Joe, six months into his employment, is already contemplating moving on. A co-worker, Kari, notices that he seems to have checked out a bit and invites him to a coffee break to ask about it. She likes working with Joe, thinks he adds a fresh new perspective to the department, and hopes he stays.
Kari: So how is this job working out so far?
Joe: It’s going okay, but to be honest I’m really getting tired of the after-hours calls. I’m already putting in around 50-60 hours a week here and now I’m expected to also drop everything and answer a work call at 9pm? My last company never required that.
Kari: I agree that it’s a pain sometimes. Hopefully it won’t happen for you too often. It’s just the way they are here – everything seems to be an emergency.
How guilty is your organization of “bad employer” behavior?
Do you pester your employees after- hours or monitor frequency of bathroom breaks? Are you stingy with praise but heavy on criticism? Do you shut down employee suggestions without consideration?
New employees may come to the table with fresh ideas and a much-needed skillset, but they may take those attributes elsewhere if they are not treated well by managers or the company in general. A quick spot check on those little things that may help keep them around:
- Have an Open-Door Policy? Live up to it! Employee suggestions should be welcomed and considered. (Who best to bring forward ideas on how to improve the work process than those who are doing it?) Concerns should be taken seriously and dealt with accordingly. If you have an employee who seems to constantly complain, listen closely for hints of a bigger problem. Is the workload reasonable? Are deadlines realistic?
- Just say no to micromanaging! Are you letting the professionals you hired do what you hired them to do having to report back on a daily basis? Does the certified project manager actually get to manage projects or only the tasks that you’ve assigned? Learn to take a step back from the day-to-day process and let your employees shine, but be ready to act as a resource if needed.
- Are they off work for the day? Let them really be off. Are exempt employees really being paid to be at the constant beck and call of a company, even way after the office has closed for the day? Even the most dedicated employee needs personal time that is his or her own. And don’t forget, employees without immediate family demands also need their space for extended family, friends and their outside interests. If you have your own tendency to compose standard emails or updates after hours, consider saving the communication in draft form for a future release or set your email settings for a future delivery time during normal office hours, so you are not constantly modeling expectations to be working after hours.
And along the same lines…
- Allow vacation time to be actual vacation time. Is there an unwritten attitude among managers that employees requesting vacation time aren’t dedicated? Or if employees DO take vacation, are they expected to answer emails by the pool or log in to conference calls from a hotel room? Are there negative consequences if work comes in and isn’t immediately addressed during a scheduled vacation? Is someone available to “back-up” your employees so they don’t come back to a mess? Vacation time is time meant to be taken away from the workplace to allow workers to recharge. Let them.
- A little empathy goes a long way. Things DO happen, even when it is inconvenient. Family members and friends – and pets – pass away. People relocate to a new home. Children get sick and/or hospitalized. Cars break down. Granting some form of vacation, sick leave, or PTO (even if not mandated by state or local law) and showing patience and understanding of the occasional situation can allow employees to try to deal with life’s curveballs without worrying about losing their jobs or coming back to hostility due to their missing a few days in the process.
- Only offer perks that can be used. Do you offer discounted or free gym memberships that no one has time to take advantage of due to heavy workload or crazy schedules? A pool table in the break room doesn’t help employees relax if it sits gathering dust because being seen playing on it equates slacking off in management’s view. Take a hard look at any “fun” extras you offer to see if employees are actually being allowed to use them with no strings attached.
- Don’t allow ineffective or bullying bosses to linger. If there is a lot of turnover under a particular supervisor, find out why. How is he or she treating employees? Lots of yelling, hovering, controlling? Ineffective coaching techniques allowing a problem employee to stick around much to the chagrin of his/her colleagues? Having a leader is more important to a productive workplace than having a “boss.” A supervisor who outlasts every employee under him/her without some sort of corrective action to help the problem will only make turnover worse.
- Consistency! Don’t play favorites when it comes to policy. If a long-time work buddy always comes in late with no consequences but his work neighbor (who you don’t know as well) gets dinged every time she does, you may have consistency issues. Jane, part of a core group that came over from a shared past company, works from home on occasion but her co-worker (who has the same responsibilities) is not allowed a similar arrangement. Policies should be applied consistently and fairly – too many discrepancies can cause upset among your employees.
And finally –
- Acknowledge, Acknowledge, Acknowledge. Letting employees know you are appreciative of their hard work can make a huge difference. Who wouldn’t like a “thank you” when he/she consistently goes above and beyond, meets and exceeds goals, or stays late on occasion to work on special projects just to ensure you meet deadlines? An employee who is called in to a supervisor’s office for a thank you will feel appreciated and valued, but one who always puts in his/her best work and gets little in return -except criticism on those rare occasions when an error is made – may feel undervalued and start to look elsewhere.
Click the link to view the recent Keeping High Performers Motivated and Working for You or check back for more on human resources, payroll, insurance and benefits.