Every person wants a job that they are passionate about. But once they’ve entered the workforce, most employees become disillusioned and stop believing that they could love what they do for a living.
People like to believe in greener pastures on the other side – that the constant job hopping will one day bring them to a place where happiness and meaning lie in wait for them in the form of the perfect job. They may find that job one day, but they could easily have found it with their current employer, if only employers did a better job of engaging their workforce.
This is a 5 point checklist for employers to make sense of where they’re going wrong and how to make employees fall in love with their work.
Healthy Employee-Manager Relationships
“People leave managers, not the companies” writes authors Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. A Gallup study found that 50% of US employees left their jobs to get away from their managers. It seems astounding that companies have not caught on to this trend and are working to fix it pronto.
But how do you fix a problem that most are not even aware exists? When employees leave, it is often associated with stereotypical reasons such as lack of interest in the job and expectations of higher pay. The subtle root cause that pushes employees away is neglected — which is a lack of engagement with their manager.
Employees look to their manager to be a guide and supporter, someone who listens and offers feedback. Employee-manager engagement should extend beyond monthly performance appraisals where employees are left in the dark about their role in the big picture. Constant interactions with employees and building an approachable relationship with them is imperative to make employees feel significant in their roles.
This becomes easier for a small company with a limited workforce where employees can interact directly with senior management. With a larger organisation it is up to the roster of managers to make sure that employees are engaged and feel secure about their role in the organisation.
The Right Workplace Fit
Finding the right workplace fit for employees is essential to making them comfortable in their roles. If you’ve thrust an introverted employee straight into sales or have your extroverted employee crunching numbers in a cubicle all day long, needless to say, employee productivity will not be at a high. Employers are increasingly using personality tests to assess, behavioural traits and employee competency for roles.
Assigning employees to roles that offer the best fit for their personality and then gradually shifting them to more varied roles gives them a chance to get comfortable with tasks that fall outside their comfort zone. Three popular tests used by employers are:
- Myer Briggs Test
- The Caliper Profile
- Gallup Strengths Finder
You can also download this employee development framework that matches personal values with company values, to ensure a good culturel fit.
Keeping it Interesting
Workplace productivity suffers when the monthly pay-check is the only thing keeping your employees coming to work. These employees tend view their day as a sequence of rote tasks with zero potential to be interesting.
So how do you make the job interesting:
Managers need to overcome the tendency to micromanage, and leave their appraisals for the weekly review meeting. Having a weekly group meeting as well as a one-on-one with members of your team helps to make sure that employees remain on top of assigned tasks and can take pride in their work. Micromanaging employees multiple times across the week can cause employees to view themselves as less responsible, for their tasks as well as the credit that goes with a job well done.
When employees become fluent in a work process or a new strategy, they will have more time on their hands to dedicate to new processes. Unless you find something new and interesting to keep them engaged in their free time, tasks will get repetitive and boring. It could be anything that makes employees feel productive while giving them a chance to learn. You could ask employees to analyse a new marketing strategy or an untapped market, research new arenas for growth — anything that facilitates business growth while cementing the employer-employee relationship.
Feedback and Growth
Feedback and growth are the two links in a tight circle that makes everyday a learning experience for your employees. Unless your workforce receives constructive feedback for their work and ideas, they will stagnate in their roles. The responsibility falls upon management to make employee journey a learning process with room to make mistakes, learn from them, modify their ideas and grow into something better.
How do you do it?
Make Everything a Discussion
Every new idea or task that an employee submits should lead to a healthy discussion about its merits and demerits. A good idea should lead to more than just praise. A bad idea should lead to more than criticism. If an employee did something well, managers should take time to discuss why the idea is good, the practical benefits, its implementation etc; whereas a bad idea deserves to be responded with practical reasons why it will not work. Knee-jerk responses should be avoided at all costs.
Transparent work culture
The easiest way to alienate employees from management is to have them blindly follow instructions. By making room for constructive criticism, a transparent work culture nurtures trust and camaraderie between colleagues. A lot of business owners still prefer the old way with a strict line drawn between the boss and employee. But this antiquated notion makes employees feel left out of the organisation and to view their personal success as untethered to the success of the company. A transparent work culture encourages a symbiotic relationship where employees see their personal growth as one with the company.
A job is more than just daily statistics of employee performance. It is about relationships, challenges, learning, transparency, growth – all coming together to represent the quintessence of why employees choose one job over another – finding meaning in what they do. The earlier employers realise this, the earlier they can start creating an environment that compliments these values.
About the author:
Augustus Franklin is the CEO of CallHub. He drives the product and business development at CallHub. He has worked in internet software, high-availability clusters, monitoring systems and security software at startups and at Sun Microsystems and Yahoo. When he is not working, he is either making toys with his son or training for a marathon.