How to keep your people from leaving

Facebook executives have offered advice on designing jobs that are just too good to quit

How to keep your people from leaving

A survey among Facebook employees found that employees quit, not because they had horrible bosses, but because they were not enjoying their jobs anymore, they were not using their strengths, and they were not growing in their careers.

Three executives from the social media company – head of People Lori Goler, head of HR Business Partners Janelle Gale, and leader of People Growth team Brynn Harrington – teamed up with Wharton professor and author Adam Grant in writing an article, Why People Really Quit Their Jobs, for the Harvard Business Review.

The authors said managers were ultimately responsible for ensuring that people, especially the stars, stayed with the company.

“Most companies design jobs and then slot people into them. Our best managers sometimes do the opposite: When they find talented people, they’re open to creating jobs around them,” the authors said.

Using survey data crunched by the company’s People Analytics team, the authors tried to predict who would stay and who would leave, and discovered that those who stayed:

- found their work enjoyable 31% more often
- used their strengths 33% more often, and
- expressed 37% more confidence that they were gaining the skills and experiences they need to develop their careers

According to the authors, all employees have passions that have not been acted upon. These unanswered callings are sometimes channelled into people’s jobs. Good managers try to find out what it is their people enjoy; this information helps them design motivating, meaningful jobs.

As early as the first week on the job, good managers sit down with new hires and ask them about their favorite projects, moments when they’ve felt most energized at work, times when they’ve found themselves immersed in a state of flow, and their passions outside their jobs.

Underutilized strengths
“Smart managers create opportunities for people to use their strengths,” the authors said.
“As managers learn who knows what, they can connect the dots — or better yet, build a searchable database of experts. The goal is to put employees’ strengths on display so that people know whom to contact.”

Personal and professional priorities
The usual notion is that workers must choose between their professional or personal lives on where to do better. Not so with a job that’s hard to quit.

“At Facebook, our best managers work with people to minimize these trade-offs by creating career opportunities that mesh with personal priorities.”

“When you have a manager who cares about your happiness and your success, your career and your life, you end up with a better job, and it’s hard to imagine working anywhere else,” the authors say.

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