Imagine going to work every day, working hard, and never receiving a compliment, a “Good job,” a nod of acknowledgement. Imagine receiving constant criticism and complaints, and dealing with never-ending demands and unmanageable expectations. (Sounds a little like being a parent!) This is the reality for millions of American workers – and they are starting a mass exodus from employers who do not value them.
Of course you appreciate your people. But do you tell them regularly? Do you show them consistently? Doing so effectively can help increase engagement, productivity, and retention while reducing workplace stress and burnout. Given our ongoing labor shortages, we need to ensure our people feel valued.
No, money isn’t everything… but it sure helps. We’ve all heard about – and perhaps experienced first-hand – the effects of the “Great Resignation.” Over 47.4 million of the US’s 159 million workers voluntarily quit their jobs in 2021. A staggering 63% of them said that low pay was the driving reason. Over half (53%) of those seeking jobs in 2022 say that compensation is the top influence in their decision to accept or decline a job, up from 38% the previous year.
In addition to fair base pay and benefits, workers prioritize paid time off, bonuses/incentives, health and wellness programs, performance-based pay, retirement contribution matches, flexible schedules, and volunteer days.
Bottom line: We need to pay people what they’re worth, even if it requires some fiscal creativity; we need them more than they need us at this point.
If you tout a family-oriented culture, work/life balance, a team atmosphere… then back it up with action. This means respecting your people’s time (e.g. providing flexible hours, remote or hybrid models when applicable) and not expecting them to be “on” 24/7. Save the emails and texts for working hours as much as possible.
Pew Research shows that while compensation may be the leading factor in folks’ decision to quit, feeling disrespected at work (57%) and childcare issues (48%) are right behind. While separate issues, there is a clear commonality here: by offering flexibility – and meaning it – you give people the respect and autonomy they need to do their best work and live a life outside of it. Want to reduce burnout? This is a big step forward.
A recent Gallup poll revealed that the “ability to do what they do best” is the most important factor in accepting an offer (and staying!) for 58% of jobseekers. When their interests, skills, and strengths align with the requirements of the job, it is fulfilling, meaningful, and satisfying. Make sure that you are clear and realistic in job descriptions.
It is also essential to provide opportunities for development. In fact, a lack of opportunities for career advancement is one of the most common reasons people quit (63%). Whether it is teaching new skills, contributing towards continuing education, providing training, or giving your people new responsibilities (with appropriate guidance and compensation), you can keep your best employees with you even as they grow.
You’re busy, but never become so preoccupied that you do not have time for your employees. They need to know that you’re there – that you care about not only their deliverables but about them. Implement:
● Daily Check-Ins – or As Often as Feasible. If you can, just stop in and have a quick chat with your team members. It could be regarding a recent project, following up on an action item from a previous meeting, or simply saying, “Good morning! How are you?” Little chats build rapport, so you don’t always need a “reason” to talk to your employees!
● Timely and Constructive Feedback. Get good at feedback. Employees want and need this input and insight to improve and grow in their roles. Again, while feedback can be formal (e.g. a performance review), it can also be a quick chat.
● Ask for – and Act on – Employee Feedback. Ask your employees what they need. What they would like to see. What they would change. Some of your best ideas aren’t yours. You hired smart people; leverage their brains!
● Team Events. You don’t have to do the traditional office holiday party, but make the time and effort to create special events for your people. It could be doing a 5k walk/run for charity, having a volunteer day for an organization that is meaningful to them, or a special catered meal after a big project completion.
● Birthday, Anniversary, and Milestone Celebrations. Recognize people on these occasions as well. It is meaningful for them, so it should be meaningful to you. It doesn’t need to be a big, expensive deal – but a card, gift, some flowers/candy/cake, and a little public acknowledgement for their accomplishments goes a long way. (Note: Some people hate public displays, so it pays to know your team. If you have folks that would prefer a private word or a quiet card with a note, just do that. They’ll still feel the love).
While compensation and scheduling are complex, you can also show employees they are valued with simple acts of kindness:
● Provide healthy snacks.
● “Catch them” doing great work or making progress in a goal area – and tell them.
● Encourage their efforts, don’t just praise the results.
● Send a handwritten note to commemorate a milestone or to say “Thank you” for their help on a project.
● Acknowledge your people on social media. It’s ok to brag about them!
● Take the time to build personal connections with your team members.
● Be approachable. They should know that you are there to provide guidance, support, advice, and suggestions.
Showing employees they are valued encompasses both the big (e.g. compensation, scheduling) and the little (e.g. cards, verbal and written acknowledgements). This is a powerful way we can build better businesses – together. Learn more at Home Artisans of Indiana.
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