It’s no secret that many businesses are struggling to find and keep good employees. A common refrain is that this is due to a strong economy and low unemployment rate. And these factors are most certainly at play. But at the end of the day, employees choose to stay or leave for a variety of reasons.
Is there a way to make your organizational turnover magically disappear? No. But there are really just two basic steps to recruiting and retaining great employees:
- Find out what they care about.
- Do your best to provide it.
If you want to hang onto your best people, it serves you well to find out what they value and begin to shape your corporate culture around those key things.
What are employees looking for?
Don’t get stuck in the mindset that a paycheck is the only thing that matters. Yes, compensation is important. And it still ranks near the top of the list when it comes to reasons to take or leave a new position. But today’s employees care about a whole lot of things. And unlike during the recession, they aren’t afraid to venture out looking for new opportunities that provide them.
Lots of research has been done on what employees want out of their jobs and careers. If you want to take a direct approach that applies specifically to your team, business and industry, ask your employees what matters most to them. Survey your entire team regularly and commit to conducting exit and stay interviews with your best employees.
Here’s a list of 20 things that show up time and time again on the list of things employees want and need from their employers in order to be happy and satisfied at work.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to employees. Hint: Fair, honest, and respectful treatment of all employees at all levels has become a basic expectation.
- Fair and adequate compensation – Employees will accept lower salaries in exchange for other meaningful things, but at the end of the day they need to feel valued AND be able to make rent.
- Comprehensive benefits – Healthcare is becoming a larger driver of job choice and satisfaction. Today’s job seekers are expecting to see benefits information listed up front in job postings, and they are using that information to make career decisions.
- Career development – Dead end jobs are so yesterday! If your employees can’t see a path for the future within your organization, they’ll start looking elsewhere.
- Trust – Levels of consumer and employee trust are at an all-time low. A culture of transparency will go a long way toward increasing staff loyalty and engagement.
- Meaning – Your employees want to be connected to something bigger than their To Do list. They want to work for companies who are doing good in the world, and they want to know how their work contributes to that vision.
- Flexibility – Employees are balancing a variety of responsibilities, both at work and at home.
- Balance – More and more people are prioritizing a healthy balance of work and rest. Your staff is willing to work hard, but they can’t (and won’t) do it 24 hours a day.
- Recognition – Feeling valued and appreciated is critical to keeping your team happy. This doesn’t have to mean constant praise or raises. But they need to feel that their work is important and that they are valued both as people and contributors.
- Communication – Poor communication and lack of information are top complaints of unhappy employees. It’s a basic thing that is often overlooked. Don’t be that employer.
- Culture – Nothing chases good employees away faster than a toxic manager or culture. Tolerating a negative environment and destructive behaviors will encourage bad employees to stay and good employees to leave.
- Leadership – Organizations with weak leadership will have a hard time hanging onto strong employees. Lack of clear direction, goals, and expectations leads to lack of engagement. Bottom line: positive, motivated employees want to work for positive, motivated leaders.
- Autonomy – Employees want to feel like their ideas matter and that they are capable of running projects and making decisions. Micromanagement will crush employee innovation, creativity, and initiative. It will also destroy engagement and morale.
- Teamwork – An environment of support and collaboration is far superior than working alone or in a vacuum. Even the most independently motivated workers want to know there’s a capable team behind them they can count on.
- Technology – Your employees want to be good at their jobs, and they expect to be given the tools to do so. Outdated tools and processes will quickly frustrate those who strive for high performance and continued improvement.
- Training – Developing your employee skill sets doesn’t just help you and your company. It shows your employees that they are worth investing in. And it keeps their work from becoming monotonous, boring, or stagnant.
- Diversity – Employees come in all shapes, colors, sizes, and preferences. Your employees crave variety and so should you. Not only do diverse teams perform better, they open the door to a wider pool of talent.
- Sustainability – Think people aren’t concerned about the long-term survival of their jobs, companies, communities, and the planet? Wrong. Sustainability has become a catch phrase for a reason, and today’s employees are factoring corporate social responsibility into their career choices.
- Integrity – For better or worse, employers lead by example. Increasing numbers of employees are looking for employers who demonstrate things like honesty, fairness, and equality, and they can tell the difference between companies who talk a good game and actually follow through.
- Security – Employees want to be part of financially sound and stable organizations. Yes, today’s workforce is mobile, but it’s not just about random job hopping. Career moves and decisions are often based on forward motion, increased opportunities, and the ability to get ahead financially. A chaotic, unpredictable, or volatile environment won’t feel like a safe bet.
How do you measure up?
Is your organization committed to providing some these kinds of things? If not, it’s time to start— unless you secretly enjoy higher turnover, lower productivity, and a constant struggle to find good people.
In that case, forget about this list and keep on churning through your staff. Your competitors will be more than happy to snatch up your best employees.
Photo by WAYHOME studio