When was the last time you assessed what it’s like to work at your company? How about what it’s like to work for you? These questions are important to ask on a regular basis. Check in with employees about their comfort level in their work environment. Keep in mind, the work environment is not just physical surroundings. Are your employees motivated by their work? Do they feel supported by you? Do they feel appreciated for their hard work? Do they have resources to perform well in their job role?

You may be thinking, “This sounds great, but I have enough on my plate.” Here’s why you should care: As the economy improves, employees have more options for employment, and if they are unhappy in their current role, they will leave.

Deloitte’s John Hagel says, “The biggest challenge for businesses today is learning to think about their employees the way they think about their customers. How do you engage them?” Read on to learn some tips about engaging and retaining employees.

Get to know your employees

Wendy Lea, CEO of Get Satisfaction, says in an article from Inc. magazine, “Simply by letting your employees be themselves, you increase the value of their contribution to your business. You aren’t just hiring a ‘skill set.’ You’re hiring a whole person.” Get to know your employees and find out what motivates them. To do this, you can simply ask them.

Motivators give you an inside look at what inspires each employee to get the job done. To uncover motivators, simply ask employees! When you do, employees will feel you support them in their efforts to succeed, and this, in itself, is a motivator.

Make supporting your staff a priority

Employees need you to support them. Don’t get so caught up in your own work that you forget to check in with your staff. One way to be sure this happens is to schedule recurring one-on-one meetings with employees. Standing meetings help you keep on track and show employees you have time for them.

Another approach is to create “office hours.” You may not want to be interrupted while working on something that takes focus and attention, so e-mail employees a window of time to go over projects. This increases approachability and shows the staff you want them to visit with any questions, concerns, ideas, etc.

Show employees some love

The Container Store launched a campaign on Valentine’s Day called National We Love Our Employees Day. They publicly recognized their employees for their hard work and dedication to the company. While public displays of affection may not be your style, employees need to believe you appreciate their hard work. How you express appreciation is up to you.

Invest in your employees’ success

Continuous improvement and lifelong learning are important qualities for companies to instill in their staff. What does your company do to help employees improve or learn new skills? Offer in-house workshops or employer tuition assistance for employees to take coursework somewhere else. Show employees you are invested in their success by providing and supporting different learning opportunities to help them reach their goals.

While considering how to initiate these efforts, keep these words in mind from Gretchen Spreitzer and Christine Porath as quoted in the Harvard Business Review: “In our research into what makes for a consistently high-performing workforce, we’ve found good reason to care: Happy employees produce more than unhappy ones over the long term. They routinely show up at work, they’re less likely to quit, they go above and beyond the call of duty, and they attract people who are just as committed to the job. Moreover, they’re not sprinters; they’re more like marathon runners, in it for the long haul.”

If you’re interested in uncovering what it’s like to work at your company, give employees an anonymous employee satisfaction survey. This gives employees an opportunity to answer honestly about what they like, dislike and areas they think need improvement.

Sarah Hedayati is passionate about providing customers the best experience possible. She works at Impact Learning Systems, a leader in training and consulting for customer-service skills. Hedayati is also an author for Impact Learning Systems’ customer-service and sales blog.

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4 responses to “Leadership in your company: Engage employees and reduce turnover”

  1. Teddy says:

    The point of article is do not treat employees like a number. If you do they will treat company as a paycheck and when the employee can find a bigger paycheck at another employer they will be gone.

    Get know employees and treat like family. Remember many employees may see each other more than their own family. 8 to 12 hours per day work and two to four with family. Treat employees like you treat your own family

  2. Teddy, I agree employees should not be treated like a number. However, it's inappropriate (and misleading) to apply the family model of relationship to the workplace. Employer-employee affiliations are based on the two parties performing for each other (2-way street), while family relationships are generally unconditional. Perhaps long ago, paternalistic organizations could promise affiliations with employees "for better or worse," but that isn't today's reality.

  3. Mack says:

    This article is right on point. An anonymous survey of employees requires some existing level of trust between management and employees though. I once worked for a large firm that was advised to solicit feedback from employees through adn "anonymous" internet based survey. However, at my level, I was aware that these surveys were actually being used to cull disgruntled employees from the organization rather than as a tool to become a more responsive organization to employee needs. The fear this generated however did have short term motivational gains, but as this article points out, attrition in the longer term will end up being an issue. The point is, employees should beware of being too candid in surveys and choose wording to reflect any critique as positively as possible.

  4. paige craig says:

    Teddy – I agree with you. Treating your employees like family is key. We're spending half our waking hours together and we owe our employees our love, respect, advice and more. A decent paycheck just doesn't cut it anymore. If you want to build a highly productive, inspiring and profitable business you need your employees to love your business as much as you do. No, we're not connected but by blood…but who the hell cares? We're connected by a common vision, a daily struggle and an ongoing effort to deliver value to our customers. Growing up in a family owned art business And then serving in the Marine Corps gave me a unique insight and I think it's the correct one. Feel free to disagree, but I think every business would boost their profits, productivity and employee retention if they just started investing in their people a little more.

    To Sarah's points above that doesn't mean a salary increase or new costly benefits. We can thank & recognize employees with thank you's, company awards, team meals, movie nights, gym memberships, massages and more. And these efforts are so cheap compared to the payoff. Imagine if we all budgeted $25 to $100 monthly to reward employees and make their daily successes feel special? That sort of budget wouldn't mean much as salary. But if it was used for meals and perks to celebrate and socialize success you'd have a massive impact on your company culture.