"Treat employees like partners, and they act like partners."~Fred A. Allen
Eventually we will emerge from this sluggish economy, I promise. We will see growth again, and when the economy does begin to turn around, retaining your workforce will become absolutely vital to your business. According to MetLife’s recent study of employee benefit trends, businesses need to return to a focus on employee satisfaction.
When the economy slipped into recession, many workers were laid off, and those that remained were left to pick up the slack. While corporate profits have soared, employee satisfaction has tanked as workloads increased and morale plummeted. The MetLife study revealed that 33 percent of the workers surveyed expected to have a new job in the next 12 months. It seems these workers would have left right then if they could have, but they stayed put only because they knew there were very few jobs out there.
The MetLife study also revealed that, in 2010, the percentage of employees who said they felt loyal to the company was 44 percent as compared to 62 percent in 2008. Despite the dramatic decline, employers have not seemed to recognize this change. The study showed that 54 percent of employers believe their employees feel a strong sense of loyalty. Even more concerning is that only 22 percent of these employers said employee retention was their number one priority.
Turnover is costly and the loss of employees is going to be a severe problem, but employers who start taking steps now can minimize turnover and its damaging effects. First and foremost, employers must make employee retention a high priority for the company. Profits are super, but your staff is your lifeblood and you need to hold on to them.
Second, an employee morale survey can provide great insight into how you can help improve job satisfaction. The key here is that the survey should be conducted by a neutral, outside party. The staff will feel more comfortable responding this way, and you will get honest answers, which of course, is the outcome you want.
A third step would be to use your survey results to develop a plan for improving employee moral in the coming year. Using the survey results, you can establish a benchmark for measuring improvement over time. Benchmarks can also help you determine how much effort you will need to commit in order to reach the desired amount of improvement.
An employee appreciation program makes a great addition to your plan for improving morale, and it is easy to implement. Basically, managers should just go out of their way to show their appreciation for their employees. Taking the staff for granted can not be tolerated.
To help provide insight into what your staff needs and wants, establish an employee committee. You could not ask for a better resource, and the committee members can provide recommendations and share ideas about what would make your staff more satisfied in their jobs. Sure, the subject of salary might come up, but awarding salary increases is a whole lot cheaper than training a new worker.
Whatever employee retention tactics you choose to implement, it is important that you adjust your strategy to fit the different generations. Gen Y (born after 1980) responds to random acts of appreciation and wants to know that the company they work for has a social conscience. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, just need you to reassure them that they are secure in their job until they are ready to retire.
Now go out and make employee satisfaction a high priority at your company and commit to developing a plan to improve it.
You can do this.