It is no secret that happy employees have more chances to stay longer within the company. Which means employee retention rates for managers who keep their employees happy tend to be high. Those employees are typically more productive and willing to go that extra mile for an employer who strives to create a friendlier work environment.
Cost of Low Retention
The cost of low retention can be as much as 20 percent of the employee's salary. This cost includes:
- The cost to recruit and hire a replacement
- Lost direct productivity
- Training costs
- Increased error rate with new employees
- Lost motivation and productivity by remaining employees
Worst of all, low retention leads to unhappy employees as those who remain in the company wonder if it is time to move on as well. They begin to doubt their own career path, and they may resent the disruption to the workflow as a new employee is trained and learns to adapt to his new duties. You also face the risk that the new person may not fit into the new social climate seamlessly, especially if hiring is done by someone outside the department.
Prevention Is the Best Policy
While no one can prevent all employee turnover; as a general manager, however, you can create a friendlier work environment that promotes a high retention rate, escalates productivity, and that is just plain more fun to spend time in. Implementing five simple steps can go long way toward creating a friendlier work place.
Step One: Personalize
While it is not possible to personalize every aspect of an employee's work space, job duties, and interaction with management, you can encourage individuality by allowing employees to personalize their work area. You can also greet employees by name and learn about their hobbies and families, so you have something meaningful to talk to them about in the elevator, after meetings, and any other time the opportunity presents itself. Consider other options such as how important a dress code is to the success of the business. If it isn't, then loosen up and let employees show their individuality with their attire.
Step Two: Socialize
The better people know each other, the easier it to build a feeling of obligation and team spirit. True, pizza for the entire team may cut into the petty cash fund, but the time employees spend together laughing over stringy cheese builds bonds that surpass a time clock. The party is not just for the employees either. This is your time to help your team see you as a real person, not just a manager.
Keep in mind as well that not everyone is a social butterfly. Plan some activities to help draw the introverted employees on your team out. One-on-one mentoring, peer on-the-job trainers, and small breakout teams provide shy employees a more comfortable environment for socializing. As a bonus, mentors and peer trainers help new employees feel more welcome and aid in getting them up to speed quicker.
Step Three: Smile
As simply as it may sound, many managers are so tied up in the stress of keeping the proverbial wheels running smoothly that they forget the social graces of smiling and greeting people. Courtesies like saying "please" and "thank you" still hold a lot of weight with mankind. They build goodwill and make people feel valued. As a bonus, smiles and compliments are contagious. You smile at your secretary. She smiles at the mail clerk who smiles at the senior accountant. He smiles at the janitor, and the next thing you know, the entire staff feels uplifted and glad to be at work.
Step Four: Communication
One study showed that businesses that communicated effectively were 50 percent more likely to have a low turnover rate, and that communications starts with you. While it is not reasonable for you to share everything you know with your team, employees do appreciate hearing from you first what they will surely hear through the rumour mill later.
Additionally, some staff members need more frequent feedback than just a quarterly or annual review and not just criticism either. Just-in-time praise when it is deserved goes a long way toward building loyalty and creating a satisfied employee.
Open communication about more than management sharing either. By enacting an open-door policy and truly listening when employees speak, you invite employees to be part of the solution. Front line workers are often the best qualified to make suggestions on how to improve processes and moral. Being open to those suggestions can benefit the entire company, but make sure to give credit where the credit is due, if you want to maintain a cooperative relationship with the employees.
Step Five: Diversity
Respecting the diversity that may exist within your workforce is a must to creating a friendlier work environment. Whether you agree with personal choices your employees make is irrelevant. Not only is it the law, it is your responsibility to make everyone, no matter the race, gender, sexual preference, age, religion, or national origin feel like an integral member of the team. If you are unsure how to do that, ask. For example, if you have a transgender employee and are unsure whether to address the person as a he or a she, respectfully ask what is preferred, then respect that request.
Your job is to get the work done and make a profit, and the best way to do that is to maintain a friendly work place where employees are happy to show up to work and be an essential member of the team. By helping employees build a social connection and creating a safe environment for people to be themselves, you will move one step closer to creating a dream team of not only employees but friends.
The best news is creating a friendlier place to work and increase retention need not be an expensive endeavour. With a little ingenuity and a whole lot of people skills, you can make your employees feel valued and improve the one place where you spend as much, if not more, time than at home.