Three Strategies to Keep Your Best Employees
These famous song lyrics have become a rallying cry of sorts for the workforce, capturing many employees’ mindsets right now, after a few challenging years.
With a multigenerational workforce, competition for a shrinking pool of working-age employees, new awareness around diversity, and a post-pandemic view of the workplace, it can be hard engaging and retaining people. Yet there are a few leading strategies that can help. I think of them as purpose, respect, and support. Let’s look at each.
Most leaders understand that purpose is a key element for engagement. Engaged employees are typically intrinsically driven, meaning they want to work hard. It is not about the extrinsic benefits or the salary, although both help.
We are seeing that many “return to the office” efforts are falling flat. A new study from the freelance platform Fiverr found 42% of employees said they’d consider quitting if they had to go back full time, while 61% said they’d return to work if they got a raise, but 21% said absolutely no incentive could make them return back to the office.
Leaders must think differently by helping employees connect to the company’s, team’s, and their own individual purpose, checking to see if they align. Asking the following questions can help:
- Is your company’s purpose adding value to the world and making lives better?
- Can your people at any moment say why your company exists?
- Do the tasks people work on contribute to the company’s purpose? How?
- Can you map your people’s skills and their tasks?
- What are the values of your people and how do they align with the company’s purpose?
- What motivates your people to work for your company?
This area also might be called psychological safety. This encompasses your DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), culture, and actions taken to support them. Begin with knowing your people and showing you care about them. This includes their families, what they like to do, and where they like to go. Empathy, which essentially is recognizing what it is like to be in an employee’s shoes, is a significant tool to grow respect.
Try asking some questions to gauge how well you’re doing in this area:
- Are you able to recall at least five things about each of your people and their families?
- Do you have ways to determine if their workload is too heavy or too light and to adjust?
- Are your meetings inclusive with airtime shared across everyone in the room and on video?
- Do you track how much you listen versus how much you talk?
- When new ideas are suggested, do they get implemented or just those you like?
- Do you treat people like they want to be treated?
Gallup recently reported that almost 50% of survey respondents had high levels of worry and stress. Today’s workforce is seeking input, feedback, and support for when and how much work they do, and whether they do it in-person or remotely. Feedback costs nothing and pays big benefits.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you meet with team members at least once a week, even for 15 minutes? What frequency do you meet with departments or companywide?
- Have you moved from performance reviews to real-time feedback?
- Do you share positive feedback? What is the percentage as compared to negative?
- Is your feedback specific with details?
Another aspect of support is the systems that match working styles. Consider these questions:
- Is remote work an option for all, unless there are defined criteria based on the role?
- Do you have flexible work hours?
- Have you made additional health and safety improvements?
- Do you have multiple ways, including incentives, for learning and advancement at all levels?
- How competitive is your financial offering to others in the same industry?
- Do you recognize, celebrate, and award your people? Can you explain how these are different at your company?
These questions are designed to help you think about your people and how you support them. I have clients doing many of these things and they continuously monitor their actions, measure progress, and adjust as needed. It requires an active approach. Working in these three areas will ultimately have you designing your culture while building engagement and boosting retention. Your goal is to have your people answer the question of, “Should I stay, or should I go?” with, “STAY!”
Photo by olia danilevich via Pexels.