Employees can do the minimum, or go the extra mile, and the difference between these two levels of performance, multiplied by the number of employees, can make or break a company. And when your employees are going the extra mile, it means they are engaged, and engaged employees don’t leave.
Losing employees is costly, especially if they are your best ones. Not only do they take specialist know-how and client relationships with them, but often straight to one of your competitors. And if you are operating in a context of skills shortages, which many companies are, you simply can’t afford to lose those skills you know are going to be impossible to replace.
The key to overcoming all of the above issues is culture, because as Peter Drucker famously said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Making sure your company culture is one that engages and retains your best employees is an ongoing endeavour, and there are three proactive steps you can take to build it:
1.Turn your company into a cause
Make sure you have a vision that is ambitious enough and inspirational enough to become a cause that employees rally around and makes them want to go the extra mile. Engagement for engagement sake will only ever bring short-term results; engagement around a cause, however, will keep your employees motivated for years.
Most companies have a vision, but with confusion rife around what a vision actually is, rarely do we find one with that essential emotional ingredient that makes employees put aside personal agendas for a collective one that appears much more attractive.
2. Set a minimum standard for people management
“People don’t quit companies, they quit their bosses”. How often have you heard this said? And how often on exit interviews do we find it to be true! This simple fact, disheartening as it might seem, is exactly the information we need to change our company culture.
By focusing on our people managers, and equipping them with the skills to better manage their relationships with their subordinates, we can minimise the loss of good employees because of bad management.
Giving feedback, for example, in a way that motivates rather than demotivates employees, is a skill in short supply among today’s line managers, but is something that can be easily taught and quickly put into practice.
3. Make Confidence a daily discussion
Confidence is discussed regularly in sports, because the sporting world knows that it is critical – that difference that makes a difference when athletes and sports people need to find that elusive next level of performance.
Confidence is multi-faceted and often misunderstood, but when discussed and worked on regularly, will make a huge difference not only to your employees’ performance but also their motivation. When employees are engaged, they will stay with your company, but you don’t just want them to stay, you want them to offer you their best performance possible. Confidence is the thing that moves them from commitment to action and gets them through turbulent times.
Creating a culture takes time, but results in a workplace where employees can give their best, making them feel good, and benefiting the company bottom line.
When you focus purely on Engagement, the tendency is to look to extrinsic and largely superficial motivations, such as gym memberships, extra holiday and shopping discounts, which only drive short-term results.
Investing in culture, however, addresses the more long-term and intrinsic drivers of human motivation – the need to grow as a person and make a difference – and sustainable Engagement, and employee retention, is the return that investment brings!
About the Author
Karen J. Hewitt, author of Employee Confidence: The New Rules of Engagement, is an Engagement and Culture Change specialist who is fluent in five languages. Her book is a finalist in the Leadership category of the Business Book Awards 2019.
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