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You’ve worked hard to staff your business. You’ve vetted resumes, given up hours of your day to interview candidates, and agonized over the choice of who fits best into the job position. You no doubt feel fairly accomplished, and perhaps even excited about the new talent joining your company. But all of this hard work and excitement won’t amount to much, if you’re not able to retain these high-quality hires, or keep them happy and motivated to produce high-quality work.
The 2015 GALLUP Report revealed that only 32 percent of workers are engaged in their jobs. The majority, 50.8 percent, were not engaged, while 17.2 percent of workers were “actively disengaged”. This is largely indicative of a national trend in stagnant engagement across the United States since roughly 2000. Additionally, Gallup has found that millennials, who make up 38 percent of the workforce, are largely unengaged as well. The report shows that only 29 percent of millennials are engaged in their jobs, and only 50 percent of them plan to be with their company one year from now. Millennials are an ever-growing hiring pool, and this should be concerning for businesses as they move forward. This trend indicates that businesses today are not effective at engaging and retaining a rapidly expanding demographic from which to hire, nor are they effectively keeping other employees engaged in general.
The key to changing these numbers, and ensuring that your hiring efforts don’t go to waste falls with the management of your company, and how your business is structured. There are many key ways to better engage employees, even millennials, if management is able to implement and expand the treatment and function of employees.
- Treat employees like people, not processes – It can often be easy for management to view employees as company assets, instead of people. However, when people feel they’re simply a cog in a larger machine, they begin to disengage and lose passion for what they’re doing. Steven Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People once wrote, businesses must “always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.” Consider how you treat your customers, and seek out ways to treat your employees similarly.
- Train employees well and trust them with the rest – You may have heard this referred to as empowerment. This takes a lot of trust in your employees, but this doesn’t go unrecognized by them. Empowerment has to be communicated, cultivated, and supported with the end game being respect and the employee being willing a ready to accept this responsibility. Additionally, that Gallup poll we mentioned? It tells us that millennials are far more engaged when they are trusted, but held accountable. Fostering an office culture that shows distrust in employees, such as micromanagement, strict rules about office time, or making employees feel scrutinized will result in turnover and employee dissatisfaction. Remember – you’re not just competing with your competitors for clients or customers. You’re also competing with them for talent. If your competitors offer a more ideal or flexible work environment, they’re far more likely to attract the talent you can’t retain.
- Recognize individuals – Weekly or monthly meetings, newsletters or intranets are great opportunities to recognize employees and let them know that their hard work is noticed and appreciated. Thank you events, supplying free lunches or rewards, and verbal recognition can go a long way towards increasing morale in the office, and helping your employees to feel that they are seen and appreciated. Making these recognitions personal can also go a long way – people feel less like tools, or cogs in a machine when their achievements are recognized, and management rewards them in a way that is personalized for the employee.
- Care about what motivates employees – Find time to sit with each employee and ask them what they value and require from you or the business to be successful at their position. Yearly reviews are crucial for this, and many companies are even implementing 6-month reviews to keep goals between management and employees consistent. If your employee is unhappy, try to address those concerns and reasons with them. If you ignore it, they’re far more likely to leave.
Be innovative, thoughtful and genuine…the same old forced office socials and canned rewards will be seen just as that and could have an opposite effect on employee morale. Avoid repetitive behaviors that reinforce the idea that everyone at the company is the same to management. Additionally, consider having management meetings regularly to address any issues arising within office culture. If employees are all grumbling about the same problems, perhaps it’s time for an adjustment in the company’s culture or methods. Whatever the case may be, if you’re putting time and effort into hiring the best talent in your industry, this can all go to waste if your retention ability simply isn’t there.