If your organization wants and needs to hire Latinos, you probably spend much time and effort — not to mention money — recruiting such employees. But if your Hispanic hires leave before you have realized a return on that recruiting investment, you really aren’t meeting your objectives.
So, how can you stem the turnover tide?
Understanding why Latinos (and other diverse employees) leave is the first step. But if you wait until the exit interview, you may never find out the truth. In general, diverse employees are reluctant to share what drove them away because their strong relationship orientation makes them less likely to say anything that could offend anyone. Like others, they may only say that they are pursuing better opportunities.
That is always a real possibility, but in discussions with friends and colleagues, and in the many career management workshops I have conducted over the years, diverse employees often give other reasons for why they left previous employers.
Some of the top reasons that Hispanic employees leave an organization are the following:
- They feel excluded.Without buddies or mentors to offer guidance and open doors, the workings of the internal culture of an organization can remain a mystery to Latinos and other diverse employees. What compounds the problem is that Latinos often are reluctant to ask for help (What if they should have known the answer already? How can they be sure of the helper’s intentions?).When employees lack such basic information about their workplace, they can’t get what they need to get their job done. Without this guidance, they don’t learn key factors that can boost or derail their careers. This includes: figuring out what it takes to succeed internally, navigating office politics, and understanding how others view them in terms of performance and behaviors.How can you help? Meet your Latino employees halfway. Offer them your knowledge of the organizational culture, but also ask them what they think they need to succeed. Sometimes they just want to feel acknowledged and respected for who they are.
- They feel stuck.Others are passing them by and they don’t know why. When that happens, some Latinos and other diverse employees may assume it is because of their race, gender, ethnicity, or whatever makes them different from mainstream America. Whether subtle or overt discrimination is the culprit depends on each individual situation, but employees also play a role in that failure to thrive.Employees who don’t self-promote adequately — and minorities are among them — miss out on opportunities because they either shy away from talking about their accomplishments or because they boast without offering proof of what they can do. Either extreme, lack of self-confidence or arrogance, quickly removes candidates from consideration for plum assignments or promotions. Managers who teach their reports how to talk about their strengths are key to retaining valuable employees. Urge employees to talk to others in the organization about their strengths in a positive manner.Another reason employees feel stuck is that they don’t truly understand their options. If they believe that career growth can only happen by moving up, they may miss out on lateral moves and enrichment opportunities that could advance their career in the future. Explain to your diverse employees that no one makes it to the executive suite without having a wide variety of experiences, and help them figure out what those experiences can be in your organization.
- They feel their talent is underutilized.Latinos want to contribute their unique talents (perspective, knowledge, solutions) without giving up their cultural identity. If they don’t know how to turn their unique abilities, such as bilingualism and biculturalism, into decision-making and revenue-generating leadership roles, they could get pigeonholed into positions such as mediating and translating instead of purchasing, product development or anything that contributes to the business bottom line (providing greater opportunities for advancing further up the corporate ladder).Brainstorm with your minority employees about ways in which the organization can best take advantage of their talents.
- Unwillingness to take the next step.A large part of Latino cultural identity is derived from group affiliation. That is why Latinos usually place family and community above all else in their lives. This is often in conflict with corporate America which is individualistic and highly competitive. Some Latinos will not relocate because of their community roots or accept positions that would prevent them from spending time with their families.Think about what you can offer these employees: Telecommuting? Extra vacation time? Your creativity may be the motivation that keeps Hispanics employed, engaged, and highly productive within your organization for many years.