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Employee Retention Process – Lessons We Can Learn From Happily Married Couples


For me, weekends are a time to reflect upon my thoughts and be creative. Last weekend wasn’t any different. A bizarre thought crossed my mind that there was a connection between “Employee Retention” and “Successful Marriage.” At first, I thought that people might ridicule my idea but a second thought urged me to give it a try.  Let me ask you few questions –

  1. Who is responsible for retaining “high performing employees”? Is it the responsibility of the Functional Head, The HR or the Management team of the Organization?
  2. When does the recruitment process start?
  3. Who is responsible for the successful marriage? Is it the responsibility of the Couple, Parents of Couple or the Society as a whole?

Do you know, “Retention Process” is related to “Successful Marriage”? Employees are like bride-grooms who have been sourced through different channels sources; such as job portals, employee reference, networking, recruitment consultants, campus-hiring, headhunting, etc. In a case of marriage, these roles are played by matrimonial websites, references by matchmakers; common friends; came in sight in some event or function, etc.

Sourcing and Selecting the Candidate – Wooing the Girl
Retention doesn’t start from the day an employee joins the organization. It starts from the day when a candidate is approached for a prospective job opportunity.

  1. The way you carry the interview
  2. The practices and processes you follow to interview candidates
  3. The selection tools that you use
  4. The communication processes that you adopt to interact with the candidate
  5. The steps involved in the selection process
  6. Duration of waiting period of the candidate
  7. Time you take to issue the offer letter
  8. Hassles and problems you create to give the offer and appointment letter
  9. The credibility of the information that you have provided to the candidate at the time of interview about the company and about the job.
  10. You need to project to convince the candidate the factors that make your business stand out from others. What is your competitive edge? What type of future or growth the candidate will be entitled to if he decides to join your company?

Each of these factors determines the length of duration this person will stay with your organization.

So, you need to adopt the same process and practices as you do to woo a girl. Be prepared. Be at your best. Present a real, true picture of the company. Share the growth prospects and growth plans. Always be on time, maintain your commitment, start the interview on time, don’t let the candidate wait and if you are late, say sorry. There should be fewer or no hassles.

Orientation and Induction – Your Engagement
After sourcing and selection process the next important thing that might affect the “Retention Process” is the Orientation Process (It continues for 30 days). Remember, you are still in courtship.

  1. The way you welcome your new employee.
  2. The way his team members treat him.
  3. The information you provide to him.
  4. Interaction with Leadership Team
  5. Setting clear expectations.
  6. Criteria to measure the performance.
  7. In brief, job description, KRA’s; Performance Criteria; Performance Management System; Performance Evaluation; Reward System; Career Planning

In total, the comfort level that you extend to this person.

Just like your engagement, where it is important to decide as what is expected of each other.

  1. If both will be able to stay together and work things out.
  2. If both are working then how will they share the household responsibilities; who will take care of cooking, cleaning, washing; who will take care of kids, their homework, their school commitments, who will keep the track of their growth in school; who will take care of grocery and other day-to-day expenses; who will make decisions related to other investments, house, car, holidays etc.
  3. What is expected and what are the things to be avoided?
  4. If both are working then they should not have any other commitment for the weekend.
    If they will be staying in a joint family or separately

(I think, usually, these are things we ponder upon.)

On Job – Now you are married
Now, at last, you got married and have decided to stay together for the rest of your life. Getting married doesn’t assure you that you will have a successful marriage. You have a probation period, which in companies is usually for six months to one year; however, I think in marriage there is no specific duration. But over a period of staying together, you both start understanding each other well and the ship of your marriage is smoothly sailing in the ocean of life, that only a strong Tsunami can rock your ship.

  1. Breach of trust
  2. Bankruptcy
  3. Exiting from Business
  4. Global Role
  5. Enormously huge salary package or a jump of 2-3 level in designation, ill-health.

In short, there should be a major accident or sudden change of affairs.

Agreed that the things are not exactly in the same way…same manner as were promised to you, so now there is a need to make some adjustments, some compromises. Once you get married to your employer then you realize that the information that has been given to you is not 100% correct, your team members and other colleagues in the office don’t like you; the work environment is not very cordial; there are some misunderstandings; miscommunication; the promises that were made before the employment…the boss is not willing to keep all promises. But you still like to stay in the relation and want to give your best. Adjustment and compromise is required. Once you are married, keeping the trust and faith is important, proper communication is very crucial, feedback is the backbone and motivation, regular but genuine appreciation is a tonic.

I think if we take care of these things…employee will stay with the company for a long time. Do you like to add anything in this?

Resignation, Exit Interview – Divorce
You tried your best to compromise for mutual growth, adjust with each other but then realized that the things are not working and you should better go in different direction. Now, that the thought of “Divorce” has already crossed the mind of your partner…now that your employee has already decided to leave the organization, you are sitting across the table for an exit interview. You can hardly do anything to change his mind but you can still make an attempt. Things have reached to this level…it means that you have not done enough. There was no growth in the organization but there is a chance, though very bleak…to save this relation.

Like marriage…you breached the trust of your partner, there were many restrictions, you were taking your partner for granted and hence…reached the stage of divorce, but still you can save your relation.

Though it is very late, you were not able to give enough growth to the person; you were not able to give a balanced work-life; your reward system was not good enough to keep him motivated. On the other side, you were not able to give enough time, love, care and space to your partner; you failed to understand and adjust with your partner; there was a breach of trust. Still, you can make efforts…make attempts to RETAIN YOUR EMPLOYEE and SAVE YOUR MARRIAGE.

At least learn from your mistakes and try not to repeat such mistakes in future.

HR Department – Your in-laws

  1. HR Department can give you infrastructure, facilities to ensure that you give your best.
  2. They can make employee friendly policies, processes and procedures to ensure that you grow in the organization…as a person, as a professional.
  3. They can create reward and recognition process
  4. They can ensure proper communication process; make sure that you are heard.
  5. They can give regular feedback, appreciation and recognition.
  6. They can coach and mentor you
  7. They can give training to your boss; give coaching to your boss, if his management style is not good.

Just like your in-laws, who take care of your house, your kids, when you go out to work? They help you, in preparing the dinner. They ensure that you get respect and care in the family. They ensure that you are heard for your ideas and opinion. Get an appreciation for your work.

Just look at the employer-employee relation in this perspective. Your boss is your spouse. Your Team Members are your in-laws. Other Colleagues in the organization are your relatives. Doesn’t matter what others talk about you…it is important what your boss…your spouse think and talk good about you. Before making cordial relation with your relatives…it is important to have positive relations with your team-members. As you know people don’t leave organizations…they leave bosses. Similarly, if marriage is not working…people go for divorce because their partners are not good. No one opts for divorce because of the reason that their in-laws are not good…or their relatives don’t like them.

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