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The Organisation Is Facing

The organisation is facing very high turnover rates and high turnover intentions from current employees. Consequently, the organisation needs to implement ways to retain talent. This paper is going to identify the principal reason for high turnover at the organisation, discuss how the problem relates to turnover and provide a recommendation for how the organisation can address the issue.

Section 1 – Identifying meaning as a problem

There are several reasons why the organisation is experiencing high turnover intentions, and the survey quantified these issues. The review highlights difficulties in lack of meaning, team cohesion, self-determination and poor leadership. However, I am unable to discuss each of these challenges in detail with adequate solutions. As such, I am going to focus on the issue of lack of meaning within the intelligence product department. The department has a low (1.5) mean score for meaning, which means there is a small extent to which people find their work personally meaningful. There is little variation in scores from employees (S.D of 0.6), so there is a consensus of low meaning. To increase meaning in a job can be challenging, as it is different for each person, and based upon what the individual finds personally meaningful (Williams, 2017). Many people see their job as part of their identity (Ariely, Kamenica Prelec, 2008), with people saying that meaningful work is the job feature that they value most (Grant, 2008). For some people, meaning can be found more easily as they are in more mission-focused jobs; therefore the impact of helping others is obvious. Examples include professions in healthcare and non-profits, where the motivation tends to be nonmonetary. However, some organisations may not have a direct social purpose, but they can create it through an objective that goes beyond just maximising profits, such as corporate social responsibility (Cassar Meier, 2018). Therefore, meaning should be able to be found in all jobs.

Section 2 – How does meaning link to turnover

From the data, it is clear to see that meaning is negatively correlated to turnover intentions (i.e. increasing meaning will decrease turnover intentions) and is also significantly correlated to competence, self-determination, impact and LMX (i.e. increasing meaning will increase those other factors too). The rest of this section is going to explore how meaning relates to turnover.

Some jobs appear to have little or no meaning, and it may look that it would be hard to add meaning to them. However, Airely et al. (2008) suggest differently. They carried out some experiments highlighting the difference between adding meaning to basic tasks, such as building Lego and finding pairs of letters on a page. The outcomes of the experiments suggest that simple steps could be used to make significant changes in the results. Airely et al. (2008) view labor as meaningful to the extent that (a) it is recognized and/ or (b) has some point or purpose (p. 672). During their investigations, they showed that by acknowledging the participant had done the work vocally increased meaning. Hence, managers can increase meaning by recognising and giving purpose to the work of the subordinate.

Meaningful jobs are essential as Marx (date) argued that they are more motivating for individuals. Spreitzer (1995) argued that meaning was a facet of empowerment, which can be defined as increased intrinsic motivation manifested in a set of four cognitions reflecting an individual’s orientation to his or her work role (Spreitzer, 1995, p. 1443). Through Seibert, Wang and Courtright’s’ (2011) meta-analysis, it is clear to see that empowerment, and therefore meaning is related to employee attitudes, such as job satisfaction and organisational commitment. Deci and Ryan (2000), also suggest that promoting intrinsic motivation is central to helping people achieve meaning in their job. Consequently, psychologically empowered workers are likely to experience more intrinsic need fulfilment through work and therefore report high levels of job satisfaction. Therefore, by increasing meaning, and as such psychological empowerment through intrinsic motivation, the organisation can improve employees’ opinions on job satisfaction and their commitment to the organisation. In turn, their intentions of leaving the organisation are reduced, therefore turnover decreases.

Interpersonal relationships play a crucial role in enabling employees to experience their work as relevant and meaningful (Grant, 2007). Research indicates that interpersonal relationships often enhance employee motivations (reference) while providing opportunities for employees to express and reinforce identities at work (Rosso, Deka Wrzesniewski, 2010). By encouraging relationships, managers can put more significant focus on teamwork and collaboration, and therefore employees are encouraged by their organisation to make a positive difference in the lives of co-workers (Grant, 2007). Individuals who have close interpersonal relationships at work, or are a part of a close-knit group or organisation that feels like a family, are likely to experience a stronger sense of mutual support and belongingness that contribute meaningfulness to the work experience or context (Rosso et al., 2010). A sense of belongingness encourages prosocial motivation, where people are motivated at work by helping others, rather than motivated by self-interest. Bolino and Grant (2016) propose prosocial impact is the realisation that one’s effort at work is making a difference to others, rather than to themselves. Prosocial motivation is an important concept, as often if people are working in a team with team goals, they feel like they matter (Elliott, Koa Grant, 2004) and so have a strengthened sense of meaning and purpose. Working in a team with a sense of meaning will energise them to work better (Grant, 2007). Grant (2007) highlights the need to encourage employees to care about making a positive difference in other people’s lives, although he mentions that some people are predisposed to be more influenced by prosocial motivation. Others can also be encouraged to engage in prosocial motivation, with interpersonal relationships playing a pivotal role. Greater interpersonal relationships also allow employees to feel related and connected (Cassar Meier, 2018). Connections can help encourage team empowerment, where team members share perceptions regarding the team level of group empowerment. Teams that are more empowered feel they have more intrinsically meaningful or worthwhile work to undertake. As a collective, they believe they can accomplish tasks at work which have importance to the organisation (Seibert et al., 2011). However, Cassar and Meier (2018) also highlight that workers will only feel connected to the organisation and other workers if they think that they are treated fairly.

Section 3 – Recommendations to add meaning

As previously discussed, meaning can be attached to jobs through recognition and removing ‘pointlessness’ (Ariely, Kamenica Prelec, 2008). I suggest the way that the organisation can improve meaning is by starting to recognise the effort and work from the employees in the intelligence products department, while also adding purpose to their job. To do this, I propose that the organisation introduces a new mid-tier management level, initially created from the best employees from the current product intelligence department who align with the company’s values, demonstrate talent and are keen to progress in the company. Hiring internally reduces hiring costs and candidates are more likely to have higher initial performance ratings and less likely to leave the organisation (Klaff, 2004; Bidwell, 2011). It also provides individuals in the department an opportunity to strive for a better position providing an opportunity for career progression, which is not available to them currently. These new managers would have their teams to manage, therefore splitting the large intelligence products department into smaller teams. The smaller teams allow everyone the opportunity to get to know each other, therefore developing interpersonal relationships, which is harder to do in a larger team. By introducing a new management level, the organisation is not limited by the demands faced by the current management, who can concentrate on using the reports efficiently and managing relationships between clients and the software development team. They would spend less time managing as they have fewer people reporting into them and would only need to update them on how the data is being used so that the information can be passed along to add purpose to the employee’s jobs (Airely et al., 2008). The new managers would also need to communicate with their managers, providing updates and asking for support if needed. Therefore, the new management level would mainly focus their time on managing their immediate team effectively, while also supporting them by producing reports, so all members feel like they are still part of the team. They would need to undergo leadership training sessions to get a good understanding of how to successfully manage and empower their units, to get the best out of their team members. This training will also include the importance of managers recognising the individuals’ work, which is an integral part of adding meaning (Ariely et al., 2008). As part of their management, they would make sure that they had individual face-to-face meetings fortnightly so that interpersonal relationships can develop, and managers can find out how the individual is progressing with their specific targets. The individual face-to-face meetings will enable managers to work together with the employee to create individual progress plans, so that the individual still has their goals, but it can be adapted to be more personal and allow individuals to include developing other skills that they see as valuable (Grant, 2007). The individual meeting is also an opportunity for managers to feedback so that employees can learn about their performance level and proximity to their goal. Feedback is crucial and can also enhance meaning if employees learn they are moving towards their goals (Humphrey, Nahrgang Morgeson, 2007).

As well as introducing individual one-to-one meetings, I suggest that the new management introduces team meetings as part of their new role. These team meetings would be weekly or fortnightly, dependent on time constraints, but it is a chance to encourage team empowerment by forming a collective group (Seibert et al., 2011). By building teams, individuals are encouraged to develop better interpersonal relationships, which they have not had the chance to do before (Grant, 2007). These team meetings also help communication from manager to subordinate; therefore individuals can see what effect they are having on the company and how their work is affecting others, which is vital for adding meaning (Spietzer, 1995; Rosso et al., 2010). The team meetings also allow the group to have a team-goal, so individuals can see how they are impacting one another. Niven and Healy (2014) explain how setting goals in the workplace can motivate improved behaviours. Therefore, by having team goals, the organisation encourages employees to work together and build relationships, while also driving the team to work better (Grant, 2007). By supporting good teamwork through shared team objectives, employees can build up better interpersonal and working relationships that they would not have done previously, creating a sense of group identity, which in turn supports prosocial motivation. Hence, the process is cyclical in improving meaning, in turn, reducing turnover.

The introduction of a new management tier is not an immediate solution to the organisations’ problem of turnover. However, in the long-run, it would provide significant benefits to the intelligence products department and, therefore also the organisation. It would need to be agreed by senior management and human resources, and then an implementation plan would be created. The progress of the new structure would have to be monitored by regular one-to-one meetings with a representative from Human Resources and the people influenced by the reorganisation, including new managers, old managers and some of the intelligence products team. However, the former managers need to allow the new managers autonomy in how to manage. Their management style needs to be hands-off, as long as they are still receiving quality reports, to enable the new management to encourage the employees through new processes. The team goals need to be aligned across the department, and also aligned with the organisations’ goals. The goals also need to be attainable, but still challenging to get the best work on a team and individual level. The group and individual targets can be easily monitored through regular observation of key performance indicators; however, the organisation would not be able to quantify the improvement of interpersonal relationships of employees. However, they would see if the recommendations have been successful through the results on the turnover rates over time.

In summary, the organisation can reduce turnover rates by improving meaning within the intelligence products department. Meaning can be developed in many different ways, including recognition, purpose and a sense of belonging to a community through interpersonal relationships. The new mid-management tier will enable the department to put into practice all of these methods, with the significant benefit being that employees will feel like they belong to a team, with a manager who can dedicate time individually.

Freelance Writer

I’m a freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Boston University. My work has been featured in publications like the L.A. Times, U.S. News and World Report, Farther Finance, Teen Vogue, Grammarly, The Startup, Mashable, Insider, Forbes, Writer (formerly Qordoba), MarketWatch, CNBC, and USA Today, among others.

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