Keeping employees engaged and productive is essential to any business’s profitability, since disengaged employees produce lower quality work that erodes company profits. Employee engagement surveys are designed to help you determine which factors are contributing to employee engagement, which factors are detracting from efficiency, and how you can improve.
The best way to retain employees is to start from the ground up by hiring the right employees, followed by providing the management structure necessary to keep them on board. This may require a different mindset in the hiring process than what is traditionally used. There can be a tendency to hire based upon a prospective employee’s resume and educational background, without consideration of the ramifications personality and core characteristics will have on their tenure and engagement.
Gary Swart, CEO of oDesk writes that personal characteristics, for all practical purposes, “are unchangeable, or at least too difficult to realistically change within a business context.” For this reason, when hiring, he advocates focusing on character traits that define a person. For instance, if you have a potential hire who is an expert programmer, but may be a poor communicator, you’re likely going to run into problems in the future when project objectives and design changes aren’t communicated effectively between the programmer and management or the client. In this instance, a better hire would be someone who has solid personality traits with a refined ability to learn and adapt, who can be taught the specific programming language while on the job. This candidate would cover all of your needs, without leaving that communication gap.
An employee’s motivation for working with your company is another important factor to consider. Does your company have a unique position in the market that you can promote to attract talent? Is there a technology or system that you employ, that is not widely available? Is your company doing something exciting that other companies aren’t?
It’s a Matter of Motivation
Many famous companies attract top talent in their fields by providing opportunities that employees cannot get elsewhere. Apple launched a revolution in personal computers, and then two decades later re-invented itself with continual back-to-back revolutions in the music and media industries, the mobile phone industry, and now in the post-PC computing era. Google has been at the forefront of Internet advancement for decades. From the first quick and accurate search engine to Gmail, Maps, and Chrome, Google offered technical challenges and groundbreaking opportunities that couldn’t be found anywhere else. Employees of these companies were motivated by breaking into new frontiers and being part of something larger than themselves. What motivates your employees?
You’ve Hired the Perfect Employee – Now What?
Employees and business are not static organisms – they grow and change and they need guidance and direction to stay effective. Employees require at least these five things to remain engaged and effective in their positions:
1) A company that provides them with something they can believe in.
“Give me something to believe.” Many companies have a core set of beliefs and values that they perpetuate. These can be broad or specific, but they must resonate with potential hires, and current employees expect them to be taken seriously and acted upon. Joining a company with beliefs that mirror their own is a strong motivating factor for many employees. Corporate culture starts from the top down, and a senior management team that “walks the walk” is one of the most crucial elements of successfully maintaining a culture of integrity. Zappos’ Tony Hseih and Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and Space-X are great examples of senior leaders living the company’s values daily.
2) Regular, meaningful feedback.
The ability to tactfully provide feedback when needed is a core managerial skill. Providing regular, helpful feedback is paramount to employee engagement because it ensures that employees receive praise when they excel and receive a course correction if they’re venturing off of the path. Recent studies have shown that the Millennial generation strongly desire more feedback, more often. A Time article stated that “80% of Millennial’s said they want regular feedback from their managers, and 75% yearn for mentors.” Clearly, feedback is not only essential, it’s desired. Employees want to make sure they’re on the right path, and they value opportunities to learn.
3) Respect as team members and individuals.
Respect is a very powerful tool for motivating people to get things done (employees, friends, family members, social groups, or anyone, really). On the other hand, a lack of respect is a good way to foster dissent and subversion, which will cripple your process efficiencies. Employees who feel respected are more likely to go above and beyond to help your organization.
4) A leadership model worth emulating.
According to a Dale Carnegie Institute survey, 80% of employees who are dissatisfied with their immediate supervisor are disengaged. Fostering an environment of senior leaders who live the values of the business daily and adhere to the practices they espouse is a sure way to garner belief in management that will get the troops on board.
5) Adequate training at all levels of the business.
As mentioned above, many employees desire feedback, and an overwhelming number expressed a desire for a mentor to take them under their wing and train them. Traditionally, senior level employees have been privy to quality training, but entry level employees who have less responsibility have not received the same level of training. By building your employees up through training, you have the opportunity to retain them longer and sculpt their skills to the needs of the business, making the whole organization function more efficiently.
The best way to ensure your employees remain aligned with your business’ objectives and are engaged with their projects is to hire the right staff from the ground up and provide an environment where they can thrive through challenges, feedback, and training.
Image Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.