Recruiting and training new staff is costly, so keeping staff satisfied is essential. A few decades ago, people often spent their entire working lives in the same job; these days an employee might stay at one company for an average of 18 to 24 months. And as the economy starts recovering from the recession, employees can afford to look around for better opportunities.
The obvious solution for getting staff to stay is to increase their salaries, but a raise will only buy loyalty over the short term. Here are a few basic principles for keeping your employees happy over the long term.
Make it fun
People spend most of their waking time at work, so invest in making your company a place where your employees want to be. This could entail anything from planning “family days” and inter-departmental competitions, to simply providing a basketball hoop or a pool table for the staff common areas.
Some companies allocate a “fun budget” to each team to use as they decide – a team dinner, an afternoon playing paintball, or a day at the spa. There are many options that provide a chance both to relax, and to create stronger team bonds.
Show them they are appreciated
Everybody wants to know they are valued. Showing appreciation for your employees’ efforts may be your most significant step towards improving job satisfaction. Make an effort to publicly acknowledge excellent work – perhaps in a staff meeting or company newsletter.
Appreciation is not only about work – employees need to be valued as individuals too. Take time to get to know your staff and to find out what is happening in their lives. Celebrate staff birthdays and other milestones. Make them feel that they belong and are valued for who they are, not just the work they do.
Encourage good relationships between management and staff
An employee’s relationship with her immediate boss is her most important workplace relationship. Feeling that her manager cares is the greatest indicator for whether an employee will stick with the company.
A good manager will be willing to take action on behalf of employees. If an employee comes to them with a concern, they should listen attentively and then take steps to improve the situation.
Managers also need to give their staff sufficient feedback. Even employees who are doing well need to hear how their managers feel about their work.
Increasingly, companies are creating flexi-time options for their workers. Single-parent households are more common and businesses are realising that some people simply cannot work during traditional hours. Allowing staff to use their most productive times means the work gets done, and also makes the company more attractive to employees than conventional companies.
Sometimes staff may be able to do their work from home as effectively as at the office. In these cases, allowing this option not only makes employees happy, but has the added benefit of saving the company rental and maintenance costs, as less office space is needed.
One of the most important factors in making sure employees will stick around, is hiring the right people in the first place. When interviewing, look not only for people with the right qualifications and competencies, but also the right personalities. Just as not everyone would be happy in a formal, 9-5 environment, not everyone is comfortable with team-building games or casual Fridays. Don’t waste time or money hiring and training someone who won’t suit your company culture. Rather wait for that person who will not only do the job well, but who will become a part of your work family.
The part-time University of Cape Town Effective People Management short course is presented online throughout South Africa. Contact Anique on 021 447 7565 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.getsmarter.co.za for more information.