How companies can keep their best employees
27 October 2015, 11:23
How does your business compare to others when it comes to employee retention? Generally speaking, the numbers paint a rather bleak picture. A worldwide investigation revealed that one in five employees are emotionally turned off from the business they work in. They don’t feel engaged, and they don’t feel connected.
But what effect does this have on a business? Statistics show that this kind of disengagement leads to slower development and growth. In the long term, this translates to less profitability for the business.
It is clear that employee retention is something that businesses need to take seriously. So, how do you engage your employees? How do you create a feeling of connectedness between employees themselves, between employees and managers, and between employees and the business?
Here is what Paul Ouma, an independent career expert and a lecturer at Strathmore Business School, suggests companies should look out for if they want to keep their best employees.
Don’t resist opposition
Discontentment among employees is unpleasant to deal with, but, at the same time you must remember that discontented employees are at least still engaged. If they didn’t care at all it would be much worse. However, if discontentment is left to take root, it can lead to disengagement. So, resist the labeling of employees as malcontents or negative thinkers. Employees who show discontentment are really reaching out to you and offering you an opportunity to make things better. Ignoring them can be read as rejection.
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Instead, you could invite discontented employees to talk about their grievances. If you show genuine concern for their situation, you might find that it can be easily resolved with a few small changes. You could also invite them to contribute to future changes in the business. Involving them in finding solutions helps them to feel more connected with the business.
Get to know your people
No one expects lifelong loyalty anymore. Most people are focused on following their career path, and they treat the work place as a series of stepping stones. But if you give employees the opportunity to use all of their knowledge and skills in their job, they will feel valuable to the business and are more likely to stay on. Many employees want to develop their skills. They need to see that there are opportunities available for them to grow in the business. This is especially true for young and highly educated employees.
It is essential to stay in touch with these employees. Try to create an affinity, an alertness to the needs of employees who wish to move up. See to it that you create opportunities that match their desired skills. Learn their strengths, and give them the chance to shine in a new project. Inspire them, while helping them to create stronger connections with the business.
Loosen the reins
An immediate consequence of opening the communication channels between the business and employees is that you create an atmosphere of connectedness and reciprocity. Having an open conversation about personal and communal goals makes everyone feel as if they are part of the story of the business. The hard part for many business owners and managers, however, is to loosen the reins a little bit. This takes trust.
At times when the business might be going through a rough patch, the temptation is to tighten up on control. To many employees, however, see this is a sign of distrust. Connectedness can only exist where there is mutual trust, and trust can only be built over time by open communication and genuine interest. When you know the people who work for you, and you care about their opportunities in the business, you should know that you can trust them to help steer the business through the rough patch. A display of trust like that is the most genuine sign of appreciation you can give an employee.
The positive impact of engaged and committed employees on a business is not to be sniffed at. American performance-management consulting company Gallup has been investigating employee engagement for over 25 years in more than 65 countries around the world. Their extensive research shows that an increase in employee engagement can lead to a productivity increase of 20%. An engaged employee is also 87% less likely to leave the business, compared to a disengaged or disinterested employee. The message is clear: engaged employees stay longer and contribute more.
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