Why supervisors are the key to the employee retention process

When turnover impacts the bottom line of a business and needs to be curtailed, a knee-jerk reaction often involves focusing on the human resources department as the sole player in the employee retention process. However, first-line supervisors are a major secret weapon in keeping high-performing employees on board.

Lack of engagement in the workplace and with management is a major driver of worker turnover. Traditional retention programs centered around benefits and generic appreciation efforts do little to stint problems with inattentive and unengaged supervisors.

Conversely, a strong relationship between first-line managers and workers fosters a feeling of engagement that helps workers better understand and perform essential job duties and maintain positive dialogues with coworkers and other supervisors. A cultivated relationship also leads to more honest conversations when a worker provides feedback during their stay interview, a key component of any employee retention process.

The stay interview is a structured conversation a first-line supervisor needs to schedule with direct reports to learn what the worker needs to boost engagement and stay with the organization. With managers in the driver seat, portions of the information gleaned from the interview process, such as the need for mentorship or coaching, can be implemented immediately as part of an action plan. Supervisors also have unique insights into the day-to-day operations in their department and should be able to independently identify areas for improving worker engagement.

When retention goals are assigned to managers and supervisors, there also is a greater focus on the employee retention process at the department or team level as well as business-wide. As managers focus on the needs of the individual worker, a more positive work environment may be established long-term through the permanent implementation of key worker desires, such as enhanced training opportunities and uniform enforcement of company policies. Supervisors also have an incentive to aggressively pursue the stay interview and improve engagement when hitting retention goals becomes a key component of their job.

Bringing managers on board is a necessity for businesses implementing an employee retention game plan. First-line supervisors have unique insights into the needs of their direct reports when regularly conducting stay interviews in an effort to meet the engagement needs of workers. When their efforts are combined with traditional retention programs from human resources, a more positive work environment can be created for all employees, reducing turnover costs for the business and improving performance long-term.