“Looks like it’s going to happen over the weekend,” said my (then) coworker Laura. Normally shy and reserved, she was visibly excited on this particular day about three years ago. As a result of her tireless efforts, the publication’s Facebook page was about to hit 10,000 “likes.”
It was certainly an impressive milestone, but her achievement went beyond just numbers. Laura had built a solid social media following of pharmacists who not only “liked” the page, but were highly engaged. They responded to her questions — whether it was ‘which cover do you like’ or ‘what do you think of the new prescription monitoring law’ — and even started to post their own questions. Perhaps her best idea was “Pet Peeve Fridays,” a platform that enabled pharmacists to vent their frustrations. It was an enormous success, and it was Laura’s brainchild.
Reaching 10K “likes” presented management a perfect opportunity to recognize the hard work she had put in, but, like Linus in the pumpkin patch, she just kept waiting, and nothing happened. Now to clarify, this was a company that put out a press release for every promotion, and had a Salesperson of the Quarter award. They knew how to recognize some achievements, and yet Laura’s noteworthy feat went unnoticed by leadership.
“It’s not like I thought they’d throw a party,” Laura later said to me. “But I thought they’d at least say something.”
She was disappointed, and rightfully so. And although she didn’t up and quit that day, the well had been poisoned. I never saw that excitement in her again until a few months later, when she resigned. The company had lost a valuable asset, and it could have easily been prevented by sending a company-wide email acknowledging the accomplishment and presenting her with a Starbucks gift card (as a point of reference, the prize for the quarterly sales award was a $100 AMEX gift card). Just a simple ‘thank you’ could have gone a long way toward retaining a talented employee. Instead, the company had to pay a much higher price to replace her.
As Julie Roberts’ character said in Pretty Woman, “Big mistake. Big. Huge.”
While the mistake may have been big, however, it’s not uncommon. In our most recent survey, 31 percent of CIOs said staff turnover has increased in the past year, and 55 percent said the level of job satisfaction among their staff was average. And although there are a number of contributing factors, one of the most commonly cited was a lack of leadership engagement, and a failure to recognize employees’ efforts.
“People have to feel appreciated by their leaders or they will leave — or worse yet, stay and be disengaged,” said one CIO. Another stated that team building and recognition can go a long way.
In other words, leaders don’t necessarily have to move heaven and earth to retain good people. Sometimes you just have to acknowledge their efforts, whether you “like” it or not.