There’s a ‘war on talent’ in Australia – in March this year job advertisements reached their highest level since July 2008. But before you head out onto the recruitment battlefield, I urge you to make sure you look after the people you already have.

The challenge for leaders is to manage and maintain an engaged workforce at the same time as we are all doing more with less while still recovering from the burnout of the last two years.

So why do people leave?

Many leaders and managers have recently left their organisations. Through my conversations with leadership teams there are clearly a few key reasons why people are choosing to leave:

  1. Feeling micro-managed, with no sense of autonomy or empowerment to make decisions
  2. Unable to meet their need for growth or see future career opportunities
  3. Not feeling valued, recognised or rewarded for the enormous workload that they have managed over the last two years.

Wise employers have recognised that good people are hard to replace in a tight labour market. The need to build internal succession plans is more critical than ever.

Take steps today to lead a team that never wants to leave

Here are a few areas to focus on that are within your control:
Gain buy-in – Does every team member feel connected to the bigger picture: What is your vision for the business? What are your values? How can each team member align their values to the organisation’s values and contribute?
Don’t micro-manage – What decisions can you empower your leaders to make and allow them to feel more autonomous in their role?
Celebrate success – How do you reward and recognise achievement? This is especially important when everyone is feeling stretched to the max.
Invest time in career conversations – Do you know what each of your team members wants from their career? Whom have you identified as future leaders? How have you communicated the potential you see?
Creating significance – How do you reward and recognise your team members in a meaningful way? How do you ensure your people feel valued for the work they do.
Make work fun – How do you connect your team and make work more enjoyable? No one comes to work to be miserable or do a lousy job.

We’ve been primed to expect an economic rebound, but that won’t materialise without a happy, engaged workforce, so look after the team you have, think longer-term, and improve your capacity to do more with less.

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