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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average job tenure in the United States is 4.6 years. Further research has shown that this statistic is almost halved among young professionals. Ironically, while employers shake their heads and bemoan the mercenary culture of young millennials, they simultaneously perpetuate the job-hopping phenomenon by constantly encouraging professional competition over cooperation.

How can employers foster excellence without the motivating pressure of competition? Focus on teamwork and individual development. Here are a few quick fixes:

1. Don’t pit employees against each other.

There’s a scene in the 2006 James Bond film, “Casino Royale,” where Bond tells his boss that he can’t be “half monk, half hit man.” Ambitious young professionals frequently find themselves in a similar conundrum. Forcing employees to compete for incentives or projects is equivalent to asking them to sacrifice relationships for success. There’s no quicker way to destroy an employee’s emotional investment in a company. Employers shouldn’t be surprised when the mercenary they’ve created turns the tables and jumps the company ship for a pay raise.

2. Don’t play favorites. Do emphasize individual strengths.

Sure, every company has a few go-getters that excel no matter the situation, but be careful not to put them on a pedestal. When other employees are pressured to “be more like John or Lisa,” individual skills and commitment are minimized and the high-performers are ostracized. Every employee will bring a different set of strengths to the table. Fostering diversified skills creates a well-rounded team and more fulfilled employees.

3. Recognize team success.

Individuals are commonly recognized for extraordinary effort or accomplishment, but team success is often overlooked. What’s worse, a team effort often gets attributed to one individual. This not only creates resentment amongst the slighted parties, but it puts the credited employee in an awkward position and creates unrealistic expectations of them going forward. On the other hand, a team that is recognized for collectively excellent work develops a sense of pride and attachment to their teammates, fostering an emotional investment in the company.

These are just a few ways to increase employee investment and decrease turnover. Here’s the bottom line: if employees feel like valued, capable parts of the team, employers will find that pesky old revolving door turning a whole lot slower.

Trenegy helps companies successfully implement change management strategies through innovative and practical solutions. We help our clients assess their organizational structure by identifying flaws and closing the gaps between vision and strategy.

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