Leadership in your company: Engage employees and reduce turnover

By Sarah Hedayati for SmartBlog on Leadership

Leadership using Employee Engagement Drives ResultsWhen 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.