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The Criticality of Performance Management and Near-Term Retention

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Kevin Grossman
on September 22, 2014

Although the average employee tenure has edged back up over the past 30 years, it will most certainly never return to the long-term job security and golden retirement age of economic expansion.

No, U.S. workers had an average job tenure of 4.6 years in 2012, up from 3.7 years in 2002 and 3.5 in 1983, according to theBureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the trend holds up within almost every age and gender category and cannot be explained away by women’s increased presence in the workplace, or people working past traditional retirement age.

Unfortunately according to many economists, American workers are in a literal workplace rut because there just isn’t the same number of opportunities available to them as before the latest economic downturn.

Queue the millennials that number more than 40 million in the workforce, and are expected to account for three out of every four workers by 2015. Companies are working to actively recruit and retain the best of this bunch, but should long-term retention really be a talent management focal point today with millennials, much less any generation?

I’d argue we should focus on near-term retention, focusing on development and performance for the individuals and the company, millennials, Gen X and the like.

Millennials have grown up with technology in their hands – and my Gen X generation has evolved with technology in our hands – and we’re all more than accustomed to having always-on connectivity, real-time communication and instant gratification across our professional and personal lives. 

And as for millennials being recent products of the academic world, if they’re not actively being evaluated or “graded,” and recognized for incremental progress as well as milestones, they may feel like they are not contributing to the organization, or that their hard work goes unnoticed. 

Most of us, regardless of generation, want to do well in our jobs, and be reviewed and recognized for that workplace “wellness.” Whatever our tenure at an organization, we’re eager to constantly improve our performance and the value we deliver. 

In light of this attitude, the old-fashioned method of delivering performance feedback on an annual or quarterly basis has lost it’s impact, because workers may only be in their jobs three to five years; the newest entrants to the workforce won’t hesitate to leave if they don’t get instantaneous and ongoing feedback. Ultimately, millennials need a sense of mission, we all do, and your organization’s performance management strategy is key to keeping them on course.

Given this new reality, what can employers do? The first thing is to reassess current performance management activities and see how they can be improved. With the use of highly configurable performance management software that address the needs of individuals, not the one-size-fits-all systems of old, companies can provide their multi-generational workforce with the performance reviews and feedback they desire in the near-term, and need, enabling the company to keep them informed on how they are progressing with personal and business goals – and anything they can to do improve. Such a solution can also offer feedback on how employees can advance their careers with the company and go up through the ranks – a key benefit in keeping high performers engaged and retained for as long as possible.

Along those lines, the best talent management program should also include cascading goal management to ensure manager goals align with individual goals align as well as company-wide objectives. Capturing feedback from managers on how employees are progressing towards those goals, employers can not only address any performance issues, but also recognize their accomplishments, again critical to near-term retention.

For greatest success in keeping millennials and all generations engaged – the criticality of performance management and near-term retention – employers must not be held back by their legacy performance systems or outdated processes. The right performance management solution, integrated into a powerful talent management suite, will give your organization the robust tools it needs to set goals (give employees their mission), received feedback (or get graded) and encourage them to reach even higher achievements. 

And as an added bonus, with an engaging and continuous performance management program in place, organizations can set the best corporate culture for millennials and the rest of the workforce, ensuring they remain productive employees (for at least 4.6 years).

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