I recently caught up with a friend who is one of the more positive people I've had the opportunity to work with over the years. She seemed a bit worn down by her job. As we talked shop for a bit, I discerned that employee turnover has been taking a toll on her and her team.
The challenges of running a business become exponentially greater when managers seem to be spending more and more of their time finding and training new team members than in actually executing strategy.
I told her she was hardly alone with these issues. I've had more bankers share turnover concerns with me over the past year than during any period I can remember.
Some are quick to claim it's the millennial factor. We're told that millennials are more prone than others to job-hop. Then again, some are quick to claim the millennial factor for just about anything these days.
I do not dispute the idea that young bank staffers may change jobs quickly. But that's not exactly a new phenomenon. Younger employees have always tended to move around more than older ones.
Some of us may even remember similar breathless worrying about Generation X. I was recently in the office of a friend who had a "Managing Generation X" book on his shelf. He said he keeps it there to remind him that the more things change the more they stay the same.
When concerns about the job permanence of millennials come up, I like to ask more tenured bankers whether or not they had any other jobs before banking. The great majority have had numerous employers prior to the ones they are with now.
Most of these senior bankers happened to land on banking at the right time and right place in their careers. Frequently, it was also because they found themselves working for the right manager at the time.
If banking is experiencing somewhat higher turnover challenges than in past decades, one of the main causes likely has less to do with "generational attributes" and more to do with job functions. Historically, a large percentage of the jobs within a branch were primarily clerical. These folks, both on the teller lines and in back offices, efficiently processed the mountains of paper that kept our "financial services factories" running.
Many people drawn to those jobs enjoyed the environments, the hours and the predictability of their positions. These folks were less likely to leave one of these jobs once they had one.
As our branches have evolved into sales, service and problem-resolution centers, the job descriptions and employee profiles have evolved as well. Banks are now seeing more retailer-like turnover rates than they ever have. It is, I believe, the new normal.
My friend who lamented turnover expressed real bewilderment at the decisions some of the people had made in leaving her bank. She explained that in most cases, it was for only negligibly more money.
I suggested that the great majority of people who leave for just a few more dollars a week are not leaving for money, even if that is what they say. Saying it is about money is easier than saying it is about their boss or the culture of their bank.
That said just because the 90-day-on-the-job, 24-year-old doesn't get along with his or her manager doesn't mean there is anything wrong with that manager. Some folks just seem to develop a strong allergic reaction to being held accountable once their training and onboarding ends.
But if there seems to be a never-ending revolving door of employees with certain managers, the problem may not simply lie with "wrong hires."
I suggested to my friend that if her pay scales are competitive (and they appear to be), she may need to spend a little more time "recruiting" employees already on her team. When the stress of work wears on people, it can be easy to forget why you chose the company you are with and why the best career opportunities likely reside with the company you are with now.
We should remind our team members regularly not just that their jobs are important, but that they are as well. Whether it's done through formal programs or simply phone calls and email from "higher-ups," feeling appreciated is one of the most powerful job satisfaction factors.
Good employees tend not to leave jobs for a few extra dollars. They tend to leave jobs when they envision a better future elsewhere.
The recruiting of good people shouldn't stop after they are on your payroll.
Dave Martin is the founder of the retail bank performance company bankmechanics. He can be reached at email@example.com.