Formula for happy employees

Canadian business is looking for ways to scout the best talent and then to keep it. The best employees are the top performers. Are you happy with your current job?

The focus for 2010 will be retention of employees. Chief information officers (CIOs) reported to the Robert Half Technology survey, that this is a major concern. Of the 1,400 CIOs interviewed, 43% are concerned about the retention of their existing workers.

When you lose a valued employee, there can be emotional turmoil amongst the staff . The boss is often the last one to know. Now the hiring process starts. Finding the correct talent to fill the position, will take time. The gap creates a disruption in the work flow, which is not restored until the new employee is fully trained.

What is it that a good boss does to keep his/her top people happy? Not making assumptions that employees are satisfied, is probably a good start.

Some other suggestions that a manager/owner should consider, include:

  • 1. Re-connect with your existing staff. Find out if their current work experience is satisfying. Listen to what they tell you. Talk about the culture and reputation of your company, and the benefits that employment with your firm brings to the employees. It is important that this is done on a truly personal level, as it will not be near as effective if a "blanket speech" is used for all the staff.
  • 2. The company needs to invest in the staff's professional development. There are so many ways to gain expertise with mentoring programs, online learning, self-study and job shadowing. The achievements need to be recognized. The costs should be paid with a codicil, that satisfactory completion is a requirement, or repayment is necessary. The time needs to be scheduled to allow this employee to develop higher level skills, without disruption to the daily workflow.
  • 3. There has to be some promotion for employees who have achieved all they can, at the level they are at. If you have not set up some sort of recognition through structured positions, then an employee may leave your company to gain this recognition. Find ways within your current situation to designate team leaders, section co-ordinators or department heads.
  • 4. Never fail to recognize excellence. When a staff member has gone "above and beyond" their regular duties and done a great job, then you need to praise it publicly. A "thank you" is due to that employee. Other staff will observe and want the same treatment. This helps promote teamwork and strengthens loyalty. Constructive criticism is best done in private. If it is done well, then it can also be a sign of commitment to excellence.
  • 5. Do not assume that your staff know what is going on in the company. Good and bad need to be shared. Keep an open door, and encourage staff to talk to you. Be fair in the time you spend with the staff. If you regularly stop and ask only certain people how their day is going, then it appears you are showing favoritism. Be aware that resentment can build over this perception.
  • 6. Be practical in providing support when it is needed for certain projects. When a staff member leaves, there is extra work to be done. It should be shared evenly, within the remaining staff if possible. If necessary, consider temporary staffing to help reduce the back up of the work. If customer service is key to your business, then failing to consider this situation will result in lost customers, and loss of revenue.
  • 7. Team building activities should be encouraged. This is not necessarily what you find to be fun. Find out what is enjoyed by the staff, and try to find ways to include all the staff at one activity, or another. It can be a staff luncheon on company time, or an extra-curricular group activity. It is important that activities are varied enough, that all staff will have their team building needs met. Not all high-performing staff want to spend personal time outside the office environment, with their fellow workers. Some excellent employees draw a firm line, between personal and work relationships. These employees should have opportunities, to do team building activities within company time.
  • 8. We all appreciate a Christmas bonus. It is an acknowledgment from management, that the work was performed well over the past year. It is also very helpful at a time of year when expenses are high. Managers would not achieve their bonus for year end, without the support of the team working under him/her. Recognize this! Share some of extra, and it will be returned with heightened loyalty and respect. If a team tackles a difficult project and does it well, then a bonus or increased salary is a sign of recognition. Pay your people well! If you do not, then the competition will.
  • 9. Be aware that your staff need some flexibility in their work. If a staff can work from home when necessary, this can help reduce lost workloads from sick days. Many of the Gen Y group have young families. A sick child will keep that employee home, too! Consider flexible schedules, that will still meet the necessary client service standards. Your employees will appreciate that consideration.
  • 10. Prioritize the work. Provide your staff with the power to work smarter, not harder. Time management skills, adequate support for the time consuming tasks that other less-skilled workers can do, and the proper tools to complete projects will give you better overall results.

Lastly, a good boss will lead by example. If you show your commitment to the company by the quality of the work that you perform, then your staff has a benchmark. Be impeccable with your word. If you make a promise, keep it!