HR managers have a daunting task. They must reconcile the business’s objectives and their employees’ needs — a tightrope act that can leave you exhausted at the end of the day. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to improve employee retention, but there are tried and true strategies that can be adapted for nearly any company. People are complicated, difficult to understand, and each of us unique in how we approach challenges and opportunities.
When it comes to motivating employees, some HR managers are true artists. (If that’s you, we could probably learn a lot from you!) They know exactly how to keep people happy, how to make them feel a part of the corporate family – and they also know the science involved in attracting the right type of talent. The following are 8 actions successful HR managers use to keep employees happy and productive.
1. Go One-on-One to Find Friction
Every employee brings their emotions with them to work whether you like it or not, and their attitude impacts everyone around them. What we’re most concerned with is understanding the goals and the concerns of your team so we can identify any significant friction that should be addressed.
Demonstrating empathy helps you connect with others, improve communication, and show the company is concerned for the employee’s emotional well-being. There’s no need to get too personal, but try to discover what aspirations the employee has and what concerns they have for the future of their career.
One-on-one time with employees can help you understand why somebody does what they do and offers you an opportunity to achieve a perspective you can’t get from performance evaluations and interviews. As an HR professional, you don’t need us to tell you how to talk to people, but we’ll still include our plug for the 20th Century’s greatest treatise on making friends, Dale Carnegie’s How to Make Friends and Influence People.
2. Promote an Effective Company Culture
In this context, we refer to an effective company culture as one where employee morale and productivity are well-aligned. New research is starting to suggest that recent cultural trends in Silicon Valley – nap pods, unlimited vacation, foosball tables – aren’t beneficial to employee satisfaction or productivity. Smart companies understand the balance required for a functional culture.
Signs of an effective company culture include a sense of community and pride in work. Some cultures encourage collegial competition, some use social media to encourage interactions between departments. Building an effective culture takes time and requires input from the employees as well as the leadership.
If your company does not have a productive and positive company culture or you’re working to refine your traditions to better align human capital with business objectives, there are a variety of tools available to you. A great place to start is to read this research on how matching employee objectives to the company’s values can improve retention, morale, and productivity.
3. Give Recognition Regularly
We all know that a paycheck is probably the reason most employees show up to work in the morning. Money is a strong motivator, but it is not the only one. Sometimes employees just want to feel recognized and appreciated when they perform well. Make sure you acknowledge efficiency and great behavior.
Ditch the Employee of the Month program. Research has shown it creates ill-will and feelings of under-appreciation in employees. Instead, give employees recognition on the spot as they achieve noteworthy goals. Something as simple as sending the whole department an email recognizing Theresa for closing a large deal can go a long way to showing all your employees that you recognize and appreciate their day to day achievements. Giving recognition to small but significant successes promotes progress towards your objectives rather than just the work itself.
4. Solicit Feedback
As a member of HR, you see many personalities walk in your office. Often they have some pretty fantastic workplace ideas, ways to increase performance or great motivational ideas. Give your employees the opportunity to be heard, and most importantly let them know their feedback is valued. Let them take ownership of their role and contribute to the well-being of the workplace. At the end of the day, we all search for meaning one way or another and helping employees express themselves is a way of empowering them and motivating them to remain a part of the workplace family.
5. Plan for Progress
When work becomes nothing more than a daily routine, most of us are unfulfilled. No matter how repetitive a job may be, most employees have professional and personal goals the company can help them achieve. Whether it’s a career advancement track, continuing education, or an opportunity to work on special projects, help employees recognize opportunities to achieve a fulfilling career.
You can take it a step further by working with employees to draw up a career development plan to set goals and track improvement.
6. Interview with Intent
When interviewing a potential employee, don’t rely on typical interview questions. Instead, develop interview questions designed to assess a candidate’s potential to thrive within your culture. Just because a candidate was successful at their last position, doesn’t guarantee they’ll work well with your team.
Use the interview to discover what you can about the candidate’s motivations beyond their job. Evaluate them with their potential team in mind. Will they mesh well? Perhaps they’ll bring a much-needed outside perspective. Every individual, regardless of job or skills, adds to (or subtracts from) your team’s dynamic.
7. Improve Employee Retention with an Onboarding Plan
Research shows that effective onboarding improves employee retention and boosts productivity. Depending on the size of your team and your company, your onboarding plan could be a simple spreadsheet or a comprehensive plan for a large workforce.
Check out our guide to improving employee retention with onboarding for an in-depth look at a strategy we’ve found to be quite effective.
What do you think?
We’re working every day to improve manufacturing teams and help our HR partners better align human capital with company objectives. We don’t have all the answers though, and we need feedback from you. If you liked this post, please share it on Twitter or LinkedIn. If you disagree with us, let us know why. Feel free to comment, share, and email me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org