We’ve all heard horror stories-; Huge companies where everyone is only looking for their own promotion or where managers don’t care about the growth of their employees but take credit for their ideas. Employees at these companies can begin to feel undervalued and underpaid, and quickly tire.
In the post-pandemic era, more and more Americans are calling it miserable workplace quits, so much so that we are facing an era called the Great Resignation. There is more fluidity in the workforce, it’s easier than ever for employees to leave one company for another, and a more tempting offer. Companies that don’t give their employees a reason to stay will be left high and dry, begging them not to jump ship.
So, how can companies hold on to their employees?
If you want to create a workplace with a loyal, motivated, and passionate team, read the four steps you need to take to help your employees thrive.
1. Show them you care
The first and most essential step in building a healthy company is to show everyone in the workplace that you really care about them. If employees feel left out and replaced, no amount of paid time off or days off will make up for their misery. Take the time to listen to their needs and do your best to accommodate them whenever possible.
It is not enough to just care about how your employees improve your company. You need to look at each of them holistically, remembering that they are full of their unique dreams, challenges and talents.
Show your employees that you are investing in their lives, careers, and long-term successes. Ask them about their future goals and help them align those goals with what they are doing now through mentorship and thoughtful project assignment. And of course, one of the best ways to show your employees that you care is to pay them a price that matches the market.
The good news is that this goes both ways. If you believe in, support and care about your employees, they will believe, support, and care about your company.
2. Provide space for communication
Along the same lines, you need to make time for regular check-ins with your employees. Set up a system so that each employee has the opportunity to meet with their manager, someone in human resources, or senior management at regular intervals. What’s right for your company may vary, but we have each employee meet with their manager weekly for a quick check-in, meet with someone from HR once a month to discuss the overall career path, and do a quarterly performance or MBO (management by objectives) as part of the process Annual review in which senior management participates. Again, the participants and the frequency of these meetings can vary greatly based on your company’s needs. What is important is that each employee feels they have a voice and an advocate for their needs.
At a former internet marketing company, I implemented a practice called “Starbucks Stopovers,” in which I would invite new employees over for coffee to network and discuss their aspirations for the future. Although I can’t take people in a remote work environment face to face, I am always available to meet every employee. As we grew, I had to switch from monthly meetings to one-on-one quarterly or annual meetings. We discuss both their short-term goals in the company and their long-term goals (wherever they take them). If, 12 months from now, they would like to make more money or put them in a different position, we review what they need to do in order to achieve that goal. And since I can’t meet everyone in private as much as I’d like, we have a short company meeting weekly so I can chat with everyone on Zoom.
These check-ins also create a space for honesty and transparency around the company. Include your employees in the organization’s growth by asking them questions about what works and what isn’t: “What do you like about the company?” and “What’s the one thing you’d like to change?” By giving employees a space in which their opinions are heard and valued, you strengthen their connection to and investment in the company.
3. Prepare them for the future
Understand that your employees may not be working with you forever and try to send them in a better position than they were when they arrived at your company. Consider how you can nurture their personal and career growth during project assignments and wrap their goal elements into their current work experience.
Our first intern started at our company right after graduating from college, unsure of exactly where she was headed in her career. Over the three to four years she worked with us, she tried many different roles and eventually decided that she wanted to become a programmer. We gave her her try, but we didn’t have the exact role she needed at the time. Therefore, we supported her transition through training and referrals to a position in another company where she can learn and grow. Years later, she is an experienced mobile developer for a well-known internet broadcasting organization, and we are considering contacting her about working for us again.
By preparing your employees for the future, you are not only doing yourself a favor by creating a well-trained staff, but you are also setting yourself up for future success. As a leader, you never know when you might encounter or need an old employee. Investing in your employees makes them more valuable to you, whether that payoff comes now or later.
4. Trust your employees
Create a rewarding environment where employee contributions are valued and where a measured amount of independence is encouraged. During check-in or meetings, give your employees clear goals with a schedule attached. Assign them a manager who will be there to assess their progress and be prepared to help if needed.
Many thought leaders today say we have to give people a safe place to fail, but I don’t want to put anyone in a situation where they might fail at scale. When assigning new responsibilities to employees, match the level of freedom offered with their level of experience. You cannot allow people to make decisions that they are not prepared to deal with. Start employees with reasonable goals where a small degree of failure is an acceptable cost to the growth they will gain.
We are preparing to promote a long-term employee to Vice President of Operations. With this promotion, I want her to succeed and the company with her. However, there are functional areas in which it is not yet experienced. To help her transition, we have regular conversations about how she can thrive and what tasks she is willing to take on as she grows in this position.
Employees want to be trusted and given opportunities to grow, but you as a leader also need to be proactive and guide them along the way. Your company cannot thrive if your employees don’t.
Of course, all of this is easier said than done. It will take time to build trust, care, and communication in the ethos of your company, and my tactics are not foolproof. You may still see some employees leave even after following these four steps. However, I wouldn’t recommend any of this without my own experience to back it up-; Our company hasn’t had anyone quit in the past five years (yes, really).
By meeting the needs of your employees, you are serving the company. A healthy company is created when people work with people they respect, do remunerative work, receive remuneration commensurate with their experience, and improve their future career prospects.
Investing in your people is not just the right thing to do. It’s also the best way to create a strong company culture with loyal employees who want the best for your company’s future.