We came to realise many many years ago that pay was not really a high item in the agenda as to why staff stayed or left a job… Sure we acknowledge that few people can go to work for no pay and that all employees have expenses outside of the office that means a certain level of base pay is required. However, exiting interviews from the 1980’s first identified that pay rate was not a really high factor in peoples’ decisions to leave a company.
So why did people choose to stay at a company? Coming back to the very early trends we started to identify through exiting interviews in the 80’s we herd common statements around “a positive team” or “a sense of belonging” or “places of opportunity” – these are all things that ‘money cannot buy…’
Here are my tips to building a workplace people will want to invest time and energy to being a part of:
Create a culture of communication, the old-school way. Build a workplace where people can talk, challenge one another and take pride in agreeing or disagreeing. Employ brave leaders who are willing to truly have an open-door policy, where staff can come to ask questions, raise concerns, seek guidance and more. Managers must also be comfortable with sharing good and bad news with their teams and allowing people to discuss this news openly.
Forge a team. Build a connection to one another and a culture of fellowship and support. We spend so much time at work, so make it a space people feel good about hanging out with interesting people. Get out there and do team development activities; engage interesting or challenging workplace activities that make people laugh and bond; be smart when employing new members of staff – ask yourself will this person fit in and be accepted by the existing team!?
Provide opportunities… everyone wants to grow and this is so much more exciting when it can be done in a place we feel safe. So, build a firm where individuals can join at one level and truly move up the ladder. If you don’t have a ladder style corporation then be sure to provide opportunities for team players to grow, expand their experiences and be better individuals and stronger employees. Also, don’t be afraid to provide opportunity for members of the team to move away from the company into ‘better’ roles elsewhere; a selfish benefit of this could be (i) a potential business relationship with a different firm, and (ii) they just may come back someday with new skills and a different outlook that can benefit your company.
Further to the above, give challenging work assignments – nobody really wants to be bored. So, extend your team, find out what might be the push they need and give them that push…
Have work-life-balance outlook, not just a well written policy. People’s lives have always been busy but at last we in the business world have accepted that a happy employee has a happy (or at least well managed) house, so let home get in the way sometimes and be supportive so that team players can work it out and get back to the office (for want of a less cold outlook on the warmth of the real intention).
Make sure you and your leadership team are people that others can like. This can apply across the entire team, but be sure those within in the team, who people should ‘look up to’ - are in fact people one can feel good about witnessing in action.
Provide genuine recognition, show that you appreciate their efforts… this is not all about trophies and award nights, nor the best sales achievements for the month – these things matter and do provide benefit; but also, be a little subtler and even perhaps a little more authentic. Here is a thought what about random acts of kindness, take a moment to thank a team player with simple hand written note and some tickets to the theatre or a movie or perhaps a dinner for two somewhere!
Make people feel special – know your team, know their names, know their lives, inspire and encourage them!