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Martial Arts as a Solution for Retention and Recruiting?

No, not literally. We do discuss martial arts later in this post, as the belt concept relates to recruiting and retention. Martial Arts can teach us a lesson about keeping employees solidly on your team and getting the pipeline of talent interested in your firm. These are noble goals.

Attracting and retaining talent is a difficult matter for many firms. Recent statistics published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, SHRM, and other entities tracking employee turnover statistics, indicate retention and recruiting challenges remain quite common.


The State of Employee Turnover Statistics

  • In the US, the annual employee turnover rate is 18%. (SHRM, n.d.)

  • Every year, 3% of high performers in companies resign. (SHRM, n.d.)

  • 37.9% of new hires resign within a year. Of which, two out of three often do so within the first six months. (Work Institute, 2020)

  • Among executives who leave their company, 70% were voluntary and 30% were involuntary. (MRA, 2021)

  • At the beginning of 2020, 3.5 million workers quit their jobs. (Work Institute, 2020)

  • As of 2021, the total number of employee separations reached 5.5 million. This includes turnover from resignations, layoffs, retirement, transfers, and discharges. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021)

  • Overall, the quit rate in the US is 2.3%. This amounts to 3.4 million resignations (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020)

  • Voluntary employee turnover has increased by two million annually over the last four years. (Work Institute, 2020)

  • For managers who resigned, 68% are voluntary. A similar number can be observed for office employees who left their jobs. (MRA, 2021)


A job is a job, is a job.

You may not think this way, but your employees may be of this mindset. They start and finish their day, earn a paycheck, and may not think about the stability of the company, long-term; although you think about this a lot.

There is a lot that goes into a culture, beyond treating your people well – which happens to be the number one reason why people stay or leave. In an article published by Harvard Business Review, additional contributors to job satisfaction and company culture can be how you promote people, and whether their performance warrants promotion. There is nothing more deflating to your employees than seeing a colleague – who they believe is undeserving – getting promoted without earning it. This is, unfortunately, more common than not. We can, but won’t, spend oodles of time writing about the importance of corporate culture; use Google for that.

Illuminate the path for growth, creating the purpose

Today we are exploring the subject of making your business an attractive and desirable place to work - for newbies just entering the job market and for existing employees you want to retain.

To make your business attractive to the best talent and to the employees you want to keep around, you’ve first got to get your compensation and benefits package right. The very next step would be to roll your sleeves up and build an intentional program that illuminates the path to accomplishments, recognition, and upward or lateral mobility.

No one, new to the job market, wants to work for an employer with no path for upward or lateral movement. If you don’t provide this, they may take the job for the paycheck – when money matters, until it doesn’t. When money is the only motivator, they look elsewhere when their internal clock (or the culture, or the benefits package) tells them to seek out a better opportunity.

A valuable lesson from Martial Arts

Whether upward mobility for employees within your company is or is not a possibility today, it may be in the future. Provide mechanisms such as educational opportunities, or certifications, or something similar in concept. Consider how martial arts provides students the opportunity to advance in belts as a symbol of validation that progress is being made.

Company leaders may learn from the martial arts example, to provide a visible symbol of progress, accomplishments, and badges of honor. If you’ve ever known a person who practices martial arts, belt advancement is a huge motivating factor to continue the practice. Don’t believe me? Go watch a belt-advancement ceremony, for all ages, and you will see facial expressions of pride, happiness, and the spirit of accomplishment on display.

Employers can map and adopt techniques where visible signs of progress are levered as a means to illuminate the professional growth path and provide recognizable symbols of accomplishment. Symbols of accomplishments can fuel pride and loyalty, thus reducing unwanted churn.

Attracting the best and brightest talent, when all things are seemingly equal

With all things being somewhat equal (i.e. the work, the profession, the pay, benefits, etc.), you have a limited opportunity to make your company more attractive than another employer across town, or virtually, anywhere.

Build a program that provides growth for employees, ideally with employee input, and get the word out. Make a big deal about it. Employees are easy, known targets. People tend to leave jobs when the culture is poor, or when upward or lateral mobility is stifled or non-existent, or when they feel they can be treated better elsewhere.

However, how can you get this information across to the pipeline of talent for recruiting purposes?

When you promote a job with your company as a career opportunity rich with professional growth initiatives and skill development, this can help attract talent. To keep talent, this professional growth journey needs to be maintained and managed.

In a future post…

We will discuss how to find seams of opportunity to be in front of freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, within universities and colleges – to capture their attention and spark interest in applying to work for your company.

If you can’t wait for that post to publish, send our team a note and we can connect to discuss this technique which will help your firm with recruiting talent, immediately.

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