By Marcel Schwantes, Founder and Chief Human Officer, Leadership From the Core

One harsh truth in the human capital space has remained true for over two decades: 70 percent of U.S. employees are disengaged in their work and workplace right now.

It should come as no surprise that, according to a report by Gallup, 51 percent of American workers are actively looking for a different job or watching for openings.

Gallup says that those who have already jumped ship have cost U.S. businesses $1 trillion.

If you’re a number-crunching CFO and your company has high turnover, you’re sweating bullets. Do the math: The cost of replacing a single employee can be anywhere between one-half to twice that employee’s annual salary.

There are other hidden costs that come with a voluntary turnover — a decline in team morale, distrust in management, uncertainty about the future and unhappy customers. 

Ask 2 Important Questions to Stop the Bleeding

According to Gallup research, “52 percent of voluntarily exiting employees say their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job.”

Done something in the form of caring enough about their employees as people — as valued human beings.

To keep your most talented and innovative knowledge workers, managers need to ask two questions that exceptional, human-centered leaders would ask:

1. A question about the employee’s job satisfaction.

Those 52 percent of exiting employees say that in the three months before they quit their jobs, no manager came to check in with them and have a meaningful conversation about how they were doing, how they felt about their work and whether they were happy. 

2. A question about the employee’s future with the organization.

The $1 trillion problem may be drastically reduced if managers have the presence of mind to sit down with employees and talk about their future with the organization. This, too, was a question never asked in the three months prior to an employee’s exit, says Gallup.  

I agree with Gallup’s position that the problem of voluntary turnover in this country is “self-inflicted” — managers do not do everything in their power to make things right and put the employee first. In hindsight, exiting employees in the Gallup study said “their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job.”

Bonus: Three More Questions

Gallup’s solution to your turnover issue is simple: “Train your managers to have frequent, meaningful conversations with employees about what really matters to them” in order to win them back. You can ask three additional questions:

  • What’s frustrating you?
  • What are your dreams?
  • Where do you want to go?

The bottom line of asking these questions is to let your employees know that you truly care about them as people, that you value their work and their successes. But it has to be done authentically. Asking without an intent to care is simply disingenuous, and people will have an adverse reaction.

Managers who stay involved with what employees are doing — without micromanaging — keep track of their employees’ wins, goals, dreams and fears, and support them along their career paths. This gives employees a high awareness of their place within the company and the value of their successes.

This is what will elevate managers from simply managing functions and tasks to becoming influential and respected leaders who win the hearts and minds of employees.