“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”
~Anne M. Mulcahy~
What comes to mind when you think of business success? Improving the bottom line? Cutting costs while increasing profits? Those are important, but no business is successful for long without good, talented employees who are happy to come to work and do their best every day. Below are ways to focus on improving employee satisfaction – and increasing your business’ success and profitability at the same time:
1. Value your employees – in every way.
Did you ever have a boss who was quick to praise for a job well done – but stingy with benefits and pay? Actions always speak louder than words, and while current finances may not always permit you to pay top dollar, pay as much as you can based upon company profitability. In other words, the employee who toils five days or more a week to help make your company a success deserves to be recognized for that effort with praise and with benefits and pay commensurate with performance. Fair pay for work done is one of the best ways to improve employee satisfaction, and it’s also simply fair.
2. Create a culture of true camaraderie.
Of course, your first priority each day is to get business done and make your company successful. To do that, though, it’s important to have fun once in a while too, as colleagues. Schedule office parties occasionally where all employees are invited to bring their spouse/significant other and children, too. Acknowledge birthdays with a 15-minute impromptu party. Don’t frown upon spontaneous wiffleball games in the hallway; in fact, why not join in? Improving employee satisfaction means letting your hair down once in a while – prudently – and allowing your employees do the same.
3. Celebrate victories together.
All too often, companies reward management with big bonuses and lots of recognition, but overlook the accomplishments of lower-level employees, some of whom may have significantly contributed to management’s successes. That’s not fair, and employees (rightly) resent that. Instead, whenever your company has a big victory, celebrate together. Schedule a company lunch, or have a little party. Recognize your entire team – everyone. Recognition is a central component of improving employee satisfaction.
4. Be a part of your local community.
One of the best ways to create a cohesive work environment is to become a part of the local community. Connect with your community as a group, and give back to it. Get involved in community service as a company. Investigate what particular needs your community has. Serve Thanksgiving dinner at the local homeless shelter, or volunteer to participate in a cancer walk as a company team. Getting out of the work environment and rolling up your sleeves together toward a shared goal brings cohesiveness to your group that continues back at the office. Breaking out of everyday roles outside of the office can go a long way toward improving employee satisfaction in the office as well.
5. Encourage open communication.
Don’t just say you want to foster open communication; do it. If your employees don’t feel they can talk to management, they won’t; resentments will fester, and productivity and employee morale will fall.
Communication starts with you. Tell your employees how they’re doing, and encourage them to talk to you about how you are doing, too. This isn’t about insubordination, by the way. Don’t take the attitude that because you’re the boss, you’re naturally untouchable. If something’s wrong with the way the company is being run or the way people are being treated, employees should be able to tell you about it. If you’re a large company, you may not know that there may be a particular problem with lower management unless you’re told – and you won’t be if employees can’t speak up.
Communication shouldn’t just be about problems that need to be fixed, either. Your employees comprise your own rich brain trust that can help your company, products, or services become better. Encourage employees to share their ideas and reward them for those you use. When employees are heard and valued, improving employee job satisfaction won’t be a chore you “must do.” It will simply happen.
About the author: Erica L. Fener, Ph.D., is Vice President, Business Development Strategy and Analysis at Progressus Therapy, a leader in connecting their candidates with school-based PT jobs and early intervention service jobs.
Do you need happier employees? For tips, help, and coaching on improving the satisfaction of your employees contact Joel.
Talkback: What steps have you taken to increase the morale at your office? What has worked best… or failed spectacularly?
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“Over 70% of people leave their jobs because of the way they are led.”
~ Norman Drummond, Motivational Speaker ~
Client George asks: I staff a large organization in the tourism industry. There is a constant shuffle of employees coming and going. I need to know what a manager can do. Can you give me some employee retention strategies?
Coach Joel Answers: Maintaining a stable workforce is a key management issue and a strategy worthy of taking time to learn and implement.
There are many reasons employees leave a job. Some are out of your control, but you can influence many of the reasons. Here are seven problems and the solutions you can implement:
1. Lack of job satisfaction.Employees leave jobs because they are unrewarding.
Solution: Do a better job of hiring for the job. Make sure the individual will be happy in that particular position. Their skills, personality, and abilities need to match the job. Also, keep tabs on your employees with regular feedback. Be the kind of manager they can talk to so they will express their dissatisfaction early enough that you can implement changes.
2. Lack of Job Training. When employees don’t know their job or feel comfortable with it they tend to do a poor job. That leads to poor job satisfaction on the part of the employee and the manager.
Solution: Train your new hires.Evaluate the skills needed in all your employees and make sure they are proficient. Hire coaches. Find mentors.Studies show there is better job satisfaction and employee retention when your workers are well trained.
3. An organizational culture that expects long hours. In the tourism industry especially, there’s a culture of “Presenteeism” where hotel managers are expected to always be there. In other companies, the boss may be a workaholic and have his desk right beside the door. He knows exactly when each person leaves.
Solution: Set clear and reasonable expectations for your workers. Let them know what’s required of them. Watch for those putting in too many hours and find out why it’s happening.
4. Life-Work Conflicts. Each employee has unique needs and demands on his or her time. What may be a normal work load for one might create a crushing conflict for another.
Solution: Be aware of each employee and their needs. Consider flex time or other options. Just having an employee know that the management is aware of their situation and needs and is willing to make concessions is a valuable employee retention strategy.
5. Burnout. This is partly an emotional state of mind from too much pressure and too many demands.
Solution: Make sure your company is not cutting corners by deliberately understaffing. It creates resentment in your workers. Also evaluate whether you are creating unrealistic expectations for your workers. If your employees always feel behind and unable to keep up, they will leave.
6. Company policy duplicity. If employees think the company has different standards for different people. If the company says one thing and does another, it creates cynicism, resentment and high turnover.
Solution: Evaluate your company for its ethics. Is there favoritism? Are you promoting safe standards in training meetings and encouraging workers to violate them in practice? Create an ethical, fair company standard to keep your workers happy.
7. No Future. If employees feel they have no way to progress in a company, they’ll move.
Solution: Show each employee potential paths for advancement. Help them see this job as a career and a profession.Give them training and opportunities so they can step up. When you take an interest in their careers, you will retain your workers.
George, you are correct to be concerned about employee retention strategies. You can make a profound difference in the lives and wellbeing of your employees. They will thank you by staying with you and helping your company succeed.
For more recommendations with your specific company on how to retain your key employees contact Joel.
Talkback: What strategies have you used for employee retention? What has been most effective?
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“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do that.”
Client Charles Asks: I have a real problem with attrition. I ask my team if there’s anything wrong. They all say everything is fine. But then then resign and leave for another job. The cost of training new hires is just killing me. I have to find out how to retain my employees. Can you help?
Coach Joel Answers: Charlie, I’m pleased that you have several things right. You are aware of the high cost of replacing good workers. Not just the cost of hiring and training, but also the cost of lost productivity while the new employees learn.
And you are looking for a real solution to the problem of employee retention. It’s often hard for employees to feel free to open up about a problem. Here are some reasons workers might not be free to share concerns or problems with the company.
The company culture does not encourage free speaking. It might be that any criticism of the company is met with repression.
- The boss may not really encourage criticism or negativity. If employees have an issue with the leadership style of the boss, it’s unlikely they will be forthcoming with reasons why they are leaving.
- Co-workers or other leaders may be caustic and unhealthy for workers and it’s easier to leave than try to change the system.
Charles, since you have not had success with asking your employees for honest feedback, try asking those that are leaving. Many companies have success with a survey about employee retention after their resignation.
Here are some ways to do that.
1. Create a written survey. First, you want to set a program in place. You can’t just say, “Jack, on your way out the door, do you want to tell me why you’re going?” Talk to HR. Make a list of questions you’d like answered. You want your questions to be easy to answer and to invite an honest response. They might be something like this.
- What motivated you to seek a different job?
- What elements of our company or team could be improved upon?
- What changes might have encouraged you to stay?
- If you had been the manager, what would you have done differently?
- What three (or more) things would you recommend to create happier employees?
2. Hold an exit interview. Second, after the resignation, you need to structure time for an exit interview. I would recommend giving the employee the retention survey before meeting with him.
And I suggest reviewing it and having a little time between seeing the survey and talking to the employee. Criticism is always tough to take. Your initial reaction will likely be defensive. This is not productive.
If you want to solve your retention problem, you need to find out why your employees are resigning. The purpose of this exit interview is to find out more. Do the answers to the survey leave you needing more information?
Suppose Jack says, “Everyone was so negative” Wouldn’t you like to know who “everyone” is and how that negativity was demonstrated?
3. Collate results. Just because Jack says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. But if several of your departing employees mention a problem, you have some answers to your retention problem.
Charles, you will not solve this problem overnight. But if you survey employees about their retention after their resignation, you are more likely to get truthful answers. Even if the results are uncomfortable, you have a starting point to change and improve.
Are you struggling with employee retention?Executive coaching can change organizational dynamics and make great changes in productivity. Email Joel to see if coaching might be an answer to your team’s attrition.
Talkback: Have you ever used a survey for employees after their resignation? How has it helped you to retain your workers?
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“What every genuine philosopher (every genuine man, in fact) craves most is praise — although the philosophers generally call it ‘recognition’!”
~ William James ~
Hey managers, do you remember way back when in the distant past (about five years ago) when the economy was steamrolling along. Those were good times weren’t they? Or were they? Business was booming, but at the same time, it seemed like employees were in a continuous cycle of moving from one job to the next. Unless you were some sort of managerial superstar, you likely found it difficult to hang onto good employees for very long.
Since that time the reverse has been true. In the interim, have you become content with the fact that your employees are going to stick around out of a lack of other options? Well it’s time to wake up. The economy is coming out of its long slumber and so should your efforts at keeping and rewarding your employees. Below are some ideas for rewarding your employees and keeping them motivated and loyal.
1. Offer flexible hours
Recognize that some employees have circumstances that would be greatly improved with a little flexibility on your part. Do you have an employee that needs to get their children off to school in the morning? Allowing that person to come in a little later to accommodate their schedule builds loyalty. Similarly, you could accommodate the schedules of those that typically face a long commute because of rush hour traffic.
2. Give public awards
Offering public awards for reaching specific goals is another way to keep your employees motivated and engaged in the workplace. Something as simple as a plaque or an acrylic award will be appreciated when accompanied with a sincere thank you. Make sure the awards are appropriate to the recipient. The more useful they are the better they will be appreciated as well.
3. Provide a meal
Recognize a well done team effort with food. Everybody loves to eat and socialize, so this could be a useful way to say thanks and reap the benefits of a team building experience. If you want to keep it simple have someone bring in a variety of sandwiches or desserts during a meeting or other event. Or go big and have a hot meal catered. If you want to get out of the office take the team out to dinner.
4. Give employee’s some time off
Show your appreciation for your employees by giving them some time off throughout the year aside from their sick and vacation days. Get creative. Give them time off to volunteer for their favorite charity. Or as a bonus, take an employee to lunch on Friday and then give them the rest of the afternoon off. Perhaps some would prefer to come in late on a Monday instead. These sorts of experiences will create loyalty and keep your employees less likely to jump ship when another opportunity comes along.
5. Buy into your employee’s continued success
Invest in the future success of your employee by helping them better their careers. Make room for advancement from within the organization. Help them grow, even if doing so may lead them to opportunities outside your company. An employee that feels stagnated in his position is going to eventually move on.
Anna McCarthy is an HR specialist who writes on topics ranging from business communication, productivity, employee satisfaction, and corporate awards.
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“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.”
~ Japanese Proverb ~
Martin, a senior manager with a major financial services company, is facing a challenge. He knows he’s surrounded by talent. His younger, mid-level managers are performing well, and he knows some of them have the potential to be superstars. But lately they’ve been acting restless and he’s afraid some of them may be about to jump ship.
He’s tried talking to them one-on-one. He’s given them new, challenging assignments. But nothing seems to change the atmosphere. He knows they are focused on their own responsibilities and aren’t seeing the big company picture. An article about mentoring in one of his current business journals starts him thinking. He decides that a corporate mentoring and training program may give his managers a new perspective.
A conversation with his HR director gives Martin some helpful guidelines. She advises him that first of all his mentoring program needs to be aligned with corporate goals and objectives. He needs to have a timeline and method for measuring results. And he needs to be sure he can get support and commitment from both potential mentors and mentees.
Martin comes up with three initial steps to take:
- Discover the talent pool
- Be a matchmaker
- Train for success
- Discover the talent pool. A good mentoring program needs to find talent among both mentors and mentees. Martin’s main goal is employee development and retention. He decides to test the mentoring waters with a pilot program. He puts out an email “Call to Mentors” to all the company’s C-level managers and gets a great response. However, he knows it’s not safe to assume that all executives have the skills or desire to be a good mentor. He must go in-depth with each executive to ensure that the pilot program recruits the best of the best. His interview process determines skills and competency along with the commitment level of potential mentors.
- Be a matchmaker. As mentees, Martin initially chooses five of his mid-level managers based on three main criteria: (1) their experience with the company; (2) their current workload and availability; (3) their initial willingness to participate. During the recruiting process Martin asks the potential mentees to identify their goals and areas of interest. Then he has them outline a three-month personal learning plan that both they and their mentors will use during the initial phase of the project. Finally, he matches each mentee with a mentor who he feels is most compatible.
- Train for success. Martin designed a one-day workshop to kick off the program. He coached his mentors in how to understand, communicate with and motivate mentees. And he made sure his mentees would take full advantage of the mentoring partnership in advancing their skills and careers. He asked several key questions during the workshop:
- Does everyone understand exactly what we mean by “mentoring” within the context of our organization?
- What expectations does each stakeholder (mentors, mentees, managers, and HR) have of the program?
- Do all stakeholders fully understand their roles?
- What program and partnership objectives will we follow going forward?
Martin kept in close touch with both mentors and mentees and at the end of the three-month pilot he held a debriefing that summarized the program’s results. Mentees felt excited and motivated by the “big picture” training and coaching provided by their mentors. They all agreed they had gained valuable business intelligence and had become more strategic thinkers. The mentors felt rewarded, both by the acknowledgment they received from their mentees and by the long-term positive benefits the company would enjoy. The corporate mentoring program was soon rolled out company-wide.
Talkback: Have you been a mentor? Have you had a mentor? Share your experience here.
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