Manager's Corner: Retain Employees: Give Them What They Need

Manager's Corner
Retain Employees: Give Them What They Need

For most employers, the objective of filling a staff position, is to find the right person, with the right attitude, with the right skills. Quite often, once that's done, we cross off that 'To Do' item, give a sigh of relief, and move on to the next issue that's demanding our attention. However, if we consider our jobs as managers and leaders "done" when we find the perfect person to join our team, we're making a tremendous mistake. I hate to say it, but the journey with this new employee is just beginning. Now that this person has agreed to join our organization, we have to put a process into play that ensures he or she will fulfill the immediate and upcoming job requirements, but also that this new employee, once successful in meeting short-term needs, will stay with us to help us grow and produce in the long-term.
If we've recruited, hired, and trained our employees wisely, we've developed a fairly strong pool of talented and motivated individuals. However, with all that talent, quite often comes individual thinkers with desires to innovate, experiment, and do more. In addition to individual desires comes personal work/life preferences. Employees now more than ever are demanding, yes demanding, more flexibility with their work hours, benefits, and job responsibilities. If their current employer isn't meeting their work/life balance needs, they'll look for another employer who will. Studies are showing that currently, women are leaving the traditional workforce in numbers not seen since the 1970's because they no longer are willing to forego time with their children for the sake of their 8-5 job.
Also, according to a survey conducted by Dr. Annette Cremo and my company, overwhelmingly, managers state their number one request from their superiors is to clearly tell them what is expected of them. That sounds basic enough, but when asked how they let their managers know what is expected of them, 22% of the CEO's and company presidents who responded marked, "They just know. They're professionals."
Given these bits of information, how do we as employers meet the needs of our employees and retain them? We listen to their wants and give them what they need. How?
* First, we listen carefully to our employees' suggestions, requests, and comments on how things could or should be done differently. These, quite often, subtle comments provide tremendous insights into how they think and what they believe is important. If their questions and ideas have merit, have them develop their ideas into a plan that you can review with them to better evaluate its value and their potential to implement it.
* Second, review your employee pool and observe those who produce well, with minimal supervision, and at times, struggle to physically be at work when select family issues need attention. Is there a way to allow them to work flex hours, work remotely, or job-share? You've probably never worked this way with employees before, but that doesn't mean it's not possible. It's easier than ever to work remotely; the hardest part is adjusting to not being physically located together. It's sometimes better to have "half" of a good employee, than to lose one altogether. Besides, when family situations change and the employee is ready to re-enter the workforce full-time, the support and flexibility you've shown will be remembered.
* Third, don't assume your employees know what's expected of them because things are posted or they are sent e-mails. Take the time to talk with them to ask them individually what the most important things are the organization is working on, what the most important thing their department is working on and why, and what the most important thing they need to focus on. You may be amazed at the disconnect that's happening within your organization.
As with most things when dealing with human beings, there are no guarantees. However, you'll greatly enhance your chances of being an employer people want to work with and stay with, if you give them what they need.

Liz Weber of Weber Business Services, LLC. WBS specializes in Strategic, Business, and Succession Planning, as well as employee and leadership training. Contact: liz@wbsllc.com or 717-597-8890.