Q: My new business is growing steadily, and I now have eight sales employees. But for the past three years, none of my employees has lasted more than six months even though I offer them an attractive fixed salary, and generous commissions on top. Training new personnel to replace them takes a lot of time and effort. I feel like these millennials are too ambitious. What can I do to keep them here for longer?
Although it is widely acknowledged that employee tenures have reduced significantly over time, your salespeople’s rate of attrition seems uncommonly high. This notwithstanding, and regardless of any action you take, you are unlikely to enlist salespeople that can abide with your business for life. Your focus should be to consider how best to mitigate the inordinately high rates of attrition of your salespeople, and to draw optimal value from their relatively short tenures.
A high attrition rate is not merely the effect of unbridled ambition or fidgety spirits. Have you considered engaging your salespeople directly to enquire about and appreciate their views concerning their experiences at work?
Is yours an environment where employees have a voice? What do they find fulfilling in their roles? What obstacles do they encounter? What changes would they want made in your business or to their roles in order to improve their experience and performance? It is best not to be presumptuous concerning their experiences. Get it from the horse’s mouth and address the issues that you can.
You indicate that you compensate your salespeople well. On what basis do you make this assertion? Who else shares this view? How well does your company’s pay compare with businesses of similar nature and size within your industry? To which businesses are you losing your salespeople? What might such businesses be doing differently? Be curious about what your competition is doing and how it could be affecting your business.
Beyond pay considerations, one of the most powerful drivers of attrition rates among employees in general is how they are treated by their bosses. How do you treat your staff? Would they consider you humane? Do you have basic policies in place concerning how to address their matters? How often do you verbally acknowledge their contributions? What would make them stay in your business besides the money you offer them? How would you describe the culture of our business? What about the camaraderie among your employees in general?
If you find your salespeople continuing to take flight after very short tenures, take a long hard look within. Ask them for feedback, listen and take the courage to act on it.
Fred Gituku, Human Resources Practitioner ([email protected])