“I feel like the team here cares deeply about me, my safety and my success.” –Surface Miner, Spotsylvania Quarry
A few months back after reading the continued tough news on the current state of leadership and the often referenced “leadership gap,” we decided to head to the field of our predominantly blue-collar company to get their thoughts and opinions on the subject. After sitting down with the team from our Rockville plant, we captured their input in a blog post titled 5 Simple Truths: Leadership Lessons From The Front Lines. In a few short months, it became our single most viewed post since we began blogging several years ago. So here we go again.
What has caught our eye lately is the continued not so positive trends in company turnover beginning with an article we read a few months back that talked about some 50% of employees leaving their jobs within the first year. Most recently it was The Human Capital Effectiveness Report for 2014 that stated; “Voluntary turnover has continued to rise consistently in the previous 12 months with the separation rate among high performers rising by 19.5%- hitting it’s highest level in a decade.” This data aligns with similar trends Deloitte has been writing in their Talent Edge 2020 Report. Statistics such as 7 in 10 executives have a high or very high level of concern about their ability to retain critical talent and the same number think voluntary turnover will continue to increase over the next year. Most executives also admitted their retention plans are not having an impact and many don’t have a clear understanding what’s driving the turnover– and back to the front lines we went.
This time we visited our Spotsylvania Quarry where the 22 active associates have a combined 171 years of Luck Stone service with 41% of them having 10 or more years with us. And we went armed with a single question; “Why do you stay?” Given the simple elegance of the responses, we felt compelled to share.
- Looking Out For Each Other. “The team here, especially the veterans, made me feel very at ease from day one. They went out of their way to make everything as easy as possible, especially with all the new things I had never done before. That feeling has never gone away- everyone is always looking our for each other.”
- Values are Talked and Walked. “Everyone here knows the company values. We talk about them every day at our morning safety meetings and are expected to use them in our day-to-day work. The values clearly set the tone here and seem to keep everyone’s attitudes very positive which made it much easier as the new guy.”
- We Work Out Our Own Stuff. “Stuff happens in environments like this. Things can get heated and emotions can flare up. We are expected to work it out with each other and the managers usually don’t get involved. I think this is a big reason we develop such good relationships with each other. We come in early and stay late just to spend more time together.”
- There Are No Secrets. “I was really surprised by the level of communications when I got here- there are no secrets. The managers tell us everything from personal stories to what’s going on around the company. And the team shares everything with each other and their managers. You never have to wonder or worry about what’s going on or how you are doing because someone is going to tell you.”
- It’s Personal. “It was obvious early on that the guys cared deeply about me, my safety, and my success. I felt like I was part of the family versus just a number; that I belonged here. I look forward to coming in every day and I’m in a much better mood when I get home at night. Working here has had a positive impact on my family life.”
Many of the new retention programs in Deloitte’s study talk about things like offering challenging assignments, compensation, and developmental career paths. And while initiatives like these are clearly important, maybe we should consider paying closer attention to the human side of things or “what it feels like to work around here.” And while it is important to understand what is causing the turnover, a different approach may be to ask those who have been there for a little while why they stay.