Project Description

IN THESE current economic times, the challenge for managers is to find ways to retain good employees without spending more money.

In addition to saving money, you need to figure out how to get them to be happy to stay, rather than just hanging about being miserable because they don’t have any other options.

The answer lies in creating attachment.

This is a relatively new term used by human resource (HR) practitioners to describe employees who feel a sense of belonging to their organisation and are therefore less likely to leave if the going gets tough or another offer comes along.

So you need to ask yourself: Do your people feel attached or is your organisation easy to leave?

Being easy to leave is what author Leigh Branham was talking about in The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, when he described “push and pull factors” of engagement.

He believes that most line managers blame “pull” factors (such as more pay) for people leaving rather than considering “push” factors (such as unfulfilling jobs, poor management practices and unhealthy work cultures) that open the door to the pull of outside opportunities.

Another item to add to this list is lack of attachment.

When an employee lacks attachment, it often means he has not made a connection with any of the people he deals with in his role.

It could be his manager, colleagues, a mentor, customers or even suppliers.

What makes them stay?

Sometimes, all it takes is one good connection to keep employees going through the tough times.

Think about it — have you ever:

  • stayed in a job longer than you might have because of the relationships you had formed?
  • maintained contact with former work colleagues long after you had moved on to new roles?
  • looked back fondly on a past workplace experience and realised that it was the people, not the tasks, that made it so memorable?
  • followed a manager or a colleague when they left to join a new organisation?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you have experienced the phenomenon called attachment.

Create attachment

Attachment is not a new concept. Psychologists first used the term to describe the attachment of mother and baby, then later in discussing intimate relationships.

I think attachment also applies to communities.

We regularly hear stories of people who die alone and are not found for long periods because no one in their community came to check on them. In other words, they hadn’t made any connections.

These stories always bring a strong reaction in the media and spark a discussion on why we need to build stronger community ties.

So, strong attachment has long been seen as a sign of a healthy society and an organisation is really just another form of a society.

The goal of attachment is to make it more difficult for people to leave.

What makes them go?

How do you know if your workplace is easy to leave?

Here are some driving factors:

  • You are forbidden from having personal items on your desk;
  • Non-work related conversations between staff are frowned upon;
  • Newcomers feel left out of social events;
  • Departments don’t speak to each other (the old silo mentality);
  • Your manager makes no attempt to get to know you as a person, only as someone filling a role;
  • You don’t feel there is anyone in your workplace you can confide in;
  • The organisation is in business to make money and nothing else; and
  • You don’t look forward to seeing your colleagues each day.

Managers used to believe that keeping good people was all about the “golden handcuffs” — that is, making people stay by offering financial incentives such as paying for higher education or share options, but only if they stayed a certain amount of time.

Another tactic still used in some industries involves getting people to sign employment contacts with “no competition clauses” that make them agree not to join certain organisations when they leave this employer.

These strategies don’t work any more. People now have more options and different motivators.

They don’t just want a job, they want a rewarding experience.

From a manager’s point of view, you don’t want people who only work for you because they have no other options. You want people who are passionate and motivated.

The answer to creating attachment is actually contained in the list above. Do the opposite of all these things and you can keep your good staff without spending any more money.