by Murray Voth
In my last column, I wrote about motivating employees with good leadership skills and practices. A business owner or manager who is good at these will definitely contribute to the retention of good employees. But there is a lot more to employee retention than motivation. Here are some more pieces to the puzzle that is one of owners’ and managers’ greatest challenges: human resources management. Let’s explore what recent studies show about employee expectations.
Employees want to do work that is important and interesting. This is work that is engaging; it means having people in gear and pulling the load. Part of having work that is engaging is understanding the purpose of the business, and buying in to that purpose; employees today want to know the why of what they are asked to do.
Employees want to have clarity regarding what is expected of them. Has management shown them what the purpose of their role is in the larger business picture? How does the specific job they do contribute to the bigger picture? I think all of us want our efforts to be appreciated, but more importantly, we want to know that our exertions will count for something.
Employees want to feel like they belong. This is not just in a social way. They want to know what is going on in the company; they want to be part of the information channels. People want to feel connected. None of us likes to be left out in the dark. This is an important feature to accountability. When someone feels like they belong, they automatically are motivated to be more accountable.
Employees want to contribute their ideas and suggestions. Not only is it key to an employee feeling valued and wanted; they want to help. Not asking for their ideas and contributions is one of the quickest ways to demotivate someone. I think the expression, “the boss is the last to know,” happens because they never ask anyone else. The people filling specific roles know what they need to do the job. This is also part of the idea of belonging.
Employees want to work with autonomy, and not be micromanaged. I think owners and/or managers micromanage because they are afraid. What is their biggest fear? That a customer will be upset and might not come back again? Instead of micromanaging, owners and managers should focus on training and empowerment. If each employee has the knowledge they need to do their job, they have the ability to apply that knowledge, and they demonstrate a desire to use this knowledge, you now have a way of holding them accountable for their results. In short, you can only be held accountable for results if you know how to produce those results.
Employees want to be recognized, appreciated, respected and valued. Do you greet your team members at the beginning of the day, and say goodbye at the end of the day? When was the last time you said thank you to one of your employees? Have you ever felt like your employees did not respect you? Did you know respect is earned? Have you ever told an employee how important they are to the company? Those of us from the older generation keep wanting to say, “Be grateful you have a job.” Actually, the reverse is true today: owners and managers should be grateful for good employees.
Employees want to be fairly compensated, to receive good wages and benefits. Is your company run well enough that it can pay a living wage for all full-time positions? A living wage is a wage that pays for the employee’s key financial needs. In his book “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” Daniel Pink states: “When you take money off of the table, people work for intrinsic reasons, rather than extrinsic reasons.”
I recommend creating clear positional agreements for each position in the company, with compensation calculated for results required. These positional agreements consist of five parts:
- What are the results created by this position?
- What are the broader outcomes created by this position?
- What are the aptitudes required by this position?
- What do the duties of this position consist of?
- What are the skills and certification required for this position? Do you and your team understand that we pay for a position, not a personality?
The Russell Investment Group did a study in 2015 that found that the Fortune 100 Best Companies To
Work For created an 11.1% return on investment, compared to 6.5% by the S&P 500 from 1997 to 2014. It is possible for a business to create an environment that creates best results from their employees by being the best boss to work for. People quit bosses, not companies or jobs.