“I hate my job.  My manager is a jerk,” says a chorus of employees as they head out the door every year, leaving their leaders to face the discordant music of 23% average annual employee turnover, according to Mercer.

Unfortunately, those two sentences may have just cost your company its entire profit margin.  Indeed, Josh Bersin estimates the cost of replacing, hiring and training a departing professional can spike as high as 1.5-2x the annual salary.

There’s a worldwide shortage of talent for everything from software engineers to plumbers. Between demographic changes and the growth of the digital nomad economy, even high paying jobs go without suitable candidates.  And when Millie Millennial walks out the door, all her knowledge about your company and its processes goes with her. She doesn’t have to worry about remaining unemployed for long. She’ll be just fine. But will you?

How do you avoid those costs, especially when the “work from anywhere,” distributed workforce movement means you might only see your own direct reports face to face three or four times a year?

You can’t know them as well as you used to when we all hung out in the break room, because most of the time you see them only on platforms: Zoom, Hangouts, Asana, Outlook, Slack, Trello, Teams, or whatever else your company uses for internal communications.

The platforms are deceptive, because although they do some things really well, like remind people of deadlines for projects, they can fail completely at helping managers master the soft skills they need to motivate and retain employees.

The Critical Role of Managers

Somehow, within the confines of those cloud-based platforms, you have to make your employees know you think about them as talent, not just labor. You have to make them feel happy, fulfilled, and enthusiastic about contributing to the company.

And you know that making your people feel enthusiastic is your job since, according to Predictive Index, “77% of people with bad bosses hope to jump ship in the next year, whereas only 18% of people with great managers plan to leave the organization. The takeaway: If your company has a turnover problem, your company probably has a people management problem.”

But your job is difficult to do through email or chat, when you’re rushed yourself. Without the added visual cues of smiles and body language, it’s tough to know how to make an employee feel loved and valued.

So it falls to the manager to become skilled at communicating through Slack and email, but how does she know if she has been successful before the moment the employee walks out the door?

We need to train all managers on the platforms a company uses, and to help them monitor the tone and frequency of their digital communications on a regular basis, giving them the feedback they need to be successful –before they, too, head out the door.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

We’re dedicating our 2020 to managers: doing our best to help them grow, communicate, reward, incent, and involve their employees.  All of our content, new product features, and focus will be on helping your managers stay in touch with their teams.

One way we’re helping managers is to provide them with AI-driven feedback on their internal communications skills, and a path to improvement.

Because If your company isn’t focused on managers doing everything they can to make employees feel like this place is the “best place to work,” you’ll be paying a hefty price down the road.



Cultivate is a digital leadership platform that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to provide in-the-moment feedback and tools to enterprise employees. Our mission is to help build stronger workplace relationships, and empower people leaders and employees to be more effective, engaged, and balanced.