Turnover Can Be Good, or Why Great Gardeners Know to Pull a Few Weeds

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Two of the most direct, measurable people metrics affected by strategic, social employee recognition are employee engagement and employee retention.

Nearly all organizations I consult with cite improving retention as a primary ambition for creating a culture of appreciation through strategic recognition. But not all employee turnover is bad.

Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch became somewhat infamous as “Neutron Jack” for his practices around removing low performers. But when you consider his focus, the perspective changes. In his own words:

My main job was developing talent.  I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people. Of course, I had to pull out some weeds, too.”

Why you need a careful balance

As in nearly all things in life, a careful balance must be struck between employee engagement initiatives and employee retention goals. Some people simply need to move on from your organizations.

Bullies should be fired outright. Some have grown as much as they can in the position you have available and can no longer contribute at the needed level. Others deserve to be fired for misconduct or other actions out of line with your company’s stated values.

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In these cases, removing such employees can actually contribute to increased employee engagement as your team members see you will take the actions necessary to reinforce organizational priorities while strengthening a strong, positive culture in which all can thrive.

How does your organization treat retention goals?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is senior vice president of client strategy and consulting at Workhuman, where he leads the company’s consulting and analytics divisions. His writing is regularly featured across major HR publications, including HR Magazine, Human Resource Executive, HR Zone, and Workspan.