A lot has been written about the ongoing exodus of baby boomers from the workplace these days because of voluntary retirements. But as it turns out, changes in a company’s mission and value statements are also driving some of the departures. In a time when recruiting new employees is becoming increasingly difficult, this can present major problems.

Underestimating the personal feelings of those affected by these policy changes, many top leaders then wonder why their strategic initiatives are failing.

Some of these value changes don’t always sit well with employees as it can create unwelcome tension if these changes conflict with past company values and those of the employees. At the same time, job applicants may avoid the company due to these types of conflicts. As a result, there is a growing shortage of qualified managers and leaders in many midsized companies.

Not surprisingly, when turnover increases and employee morale falls, productivity and work quality suffer. When there is a disconnect between the values of the top leadership and the rest of the organization, people will leave, causing the organization to be short-staffed and strategic initiatives to stall.

It’s been well documented that a common set of values is one of the key drivers of employee retention. There are validated survey tools and assessments that can be used to determine values alignment. In addition, a transparent approach to discussing values in the interview process will help both the company and job applicants determine whether or not it is a fit for both parties

What is the root cause of these problems? Leaders who initiate policy and corporate policy changes typically do so because they believe the changes are necessary for the future financial health of the organization. They’ve been immersed in the research and financial projections and can rationalize the need for change. But most employees do not have the insights or access to the information used to determine transformations business necessity. Thus, there is a communication gap resulting in resistance to change.

In the absence of explaining the rationale of the transformation, unspoken resistance may develop, potentially causing initiatives to come to a grinding halt and turnover to increase.

There is a solution…

In Stephen Covey’s words, “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This means leadership must create an environment of interdependence and embrace common values, where two-way communication is the rule and candor is the accepted form of that communication.

The company’s values and mission statements should be transparent to all employees. This involves communication. But company leaders also need to use employee focus groups to test any potential issues that may result in employee dissatisfaction or even worse, turnover.

Sharing values and mission, as well as vision, become easier when built into the company’s planning process. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A set of cascading One Page Business Plans can easily accomplish this. With that, each manager and key employee will have their own plan based on the overall company plan… all in the cloud and all aligned with the company’s strategic initiatives.

Together these tools will help set the company up for success when initiating a transformation by involving now knowledgeable employees who actively support the business case for its values and mission!