How to Keep Your Employees Happy — and Avoid Losing Them
You probably know the song, “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Whether or not the Beatles wrote that exact phrase for their hit song, they certainly helped coin the expression. Since then, it’s clicked with many. Why? Because it’s true, both in life and in business. In fact, according to research from Gallup, money can’t buy love or loyalty. Yet how often do you hear of high-level executives tempting employees with money to stay with their company? Truth is, for many employees other things matter more. While money is important to many, most employees are loyal for other reasons. Most notably, they’re loyal because they’re engaged. If you’re considering doling out the dough and see raises as a strategy to keep your people happy, first consider raising employee engagement instead. Not only is this a proven strategy for controlling turnover rates, but it’s also a highly effective way of improving business culture, productivity and performance overall. And when that happens, results (and greater profits) will follow. Then if you wish, use some of that cash to reward employees if that’s the best way to recognize them.
Based on the Gallup study, here are three of the many ways you can grow employee engagement:
Support career advancement and professional opportunities. The most common reason people move on from their jobs isn’t about money. It is because they feel like they’re hitting the ceiling in terms of how far they can go in their careers and how their jobs might support other professional opportunities. So take a good look at the current positions in your company and the people who are in those roles. How could they be developed so that they don’t feel stuck, like their skills are getting stale compared to others in their field, or simply disempowered? Treat your people with respect, developing them in ways that lead to a more fulfilling future. Give them the resources and encouragement they need.
Tackle the tough stuff. If people are leaving in spite of good money and/or your efforts to invest in their professional development, start digging for more answers. You may have issues with management. Or, people may not get what you expect of them in their jobs. There may be a lack of alignment between your people and their understanding of your company’s mission or vision. You could also have what MAP calls an “onboard troublemaker,” an employee or possibly a manager who is undermining all your efforts to make the organization better. There could be any number of problems here. Point is, you need to get to the bottom of it all. Ask the tough questions around the issues and call upon your courage to address it.
Maintain transparency. At MAP, our clients uphold transparency using the MAP Vital Factors® System, which is an accountability system that measures company health, takes corrective actions where necessary, and delivers powerful results. As part of the process, we hold regular Vital Factor Team meetings (VFTs) with our clients, which is when we use a proven methodology for checking in on progress and opportunities for improvement. Here, we talk about lessons learned and celebrate wins, too. Interestingly, the Gallup research shows this very kind of activity of “holding progress discussions” directly contributes to low turnover and higher employee engagement. In other words, transparency enables people to know what’s really happening. Everyone knows where everyone stands. What’s more, because the environment is fair, people feel freer to problem-solve effectively as teams, develop great solutions, and work more successfully in general. And this, in part, is a major contributing factor to creating a culture of respect—one in which employees will feel engaged and tend to support rather than leave.
What’s your biggest challenge with employee engagement? What actions are you taking to address it?