Keeping employees happy and healthy translates directly into marketing returns. Indeed, did you know that the cost of employee turnover includes productivity loss, recruitment costs, training costs, and a negative cultural impact on the business? In other words, talent is not only valuable and tough to find, but it is also costly to lose good employees. It costs between 100% and 300% of an employee’s annual salary to replace them. And, if you don’t have the right system of employee compensation (both tangible and intangible rewards) it acts like a sieve keeping poor performers on the job (because they have little opportunity to move on) while encouraging your best employees to find work that better meets their needs. In fact, American companies lose $450 to $500 billion a year due to employee dissatisfaction.
Keep employees happy and healthy
Employees are the most significant asset in the company. Their performance creates growth and success.
Some businesses believe employee satisfaction is a function of salary and benefits. While these factors are undeniably important, employee satisfaction comes from a host of factors unrelated to salary. Hence, small businesses with less financial capital have an equal chance of keeping employees happy by implementing strategies like the ones below.
Among the benefits of happy employees are [source]:
- They make better decisions
- Happy employees are more creative
- Unhappy employees quit at great cost to the firm
- Happy employees are more productive and work harder to make customers happy. Unhappy employees translate into unhappy customers
- Employee unhappiness is infectious, invading your entire workforce like the plague
Now that you’re all ready to implement strategies to keep employees happy, let me share some of my favorites, in no particular order.
#1. Gain a competitive edge
Potential employees are savvy. They compare job offers and businesses, so hiring the best employees is competitive. Applicants want to be proud of their job and employer. As a result, businesses that have a significant competitive advantage over their rivals are more attractive to professional talent. Competitive advantage can come in many forms and shapes, from leveraging innovative technology to demonstrating an intuitive design and layout. They also want to work for companies that share their values, as we discuss below.
As every employee has different expectations, so there is no such thing as the right competitive advantage. However, as a rule of thumb, most people prefer companies that are:
- Tech-savvy and innovative
- User-friendly or deliver user-friendly products and services
- Expert in their field
#2. Offer training programs
Employees crave career progression and most want to learn new things. Some businesses only support training that directly impacts job performance or meets compliance goals, such as diversity training. Others support training with scholarships at colleges and universities, that covers any employee interest. Some training programs occur on company time while others are accomplished during personal time, especially when the training doesn’t directly impact employee performance.
Of course, there’s a downside to offering such training, especially when employees earn degrees and certificates that allow them to assume better jobs. You can reduce this threat by using tools that make their current job interesting and offer clear pathways for advancement.
#3. Offering unique perks
Perks are designed as an added bonus for employees beyond salary. Yet, not all perks are equal. Employees seek meaningful and tangible advantages that significantly improve their lives. In other words, trendy office perks such as social events and free lunches are losing popularity, especially during the pandemic where more employees work from home.
Instead, offering perks like time off to work for a meaningful charity binds employees tightly to the firm. So, does offering flexibility, which is a high concern for most employees.
Allowing employees to work remotely can boost employee morale and reduce stress levels.
A great work-life balance builds trust and commitment within the workplace, which can increase productivity.
Providing full family and medical leave coverage can attract new job candidates. The National Study of Employers reports that 75% of employers with 50 or more employees provide caregiving leaves. [source]
Those who can’t manage to combine work and childcare choose to leave their jobs or leave the workforce altogether. Forward-thinking companies can differentiate themselves with dedicated childcare support and services to attract new talent. On-site childcare facilities are popular as they can support families while allowing employees to remain productive.
#4. Pay fairly and on time
Remember when we mentioned money? Similarly, employees expect reliable wages from a company on a schedule. That’s precisely why every business needs a reliable payroll service to avoid costly human errors in delivering the right amount of pay on the proper schedule.
As your employees often work with a tight budget, payment errors and delays affect their financial situation. Unfortunately, the business is unlikely to take responsibility for the issue. But the financial consequence could drive talent away.
#5. Give back to the community
Businesses play an important social role. Sponsoring activities that support your community and live your values are essential strategies to support promote a brand’s reputation and make employees feel good about working for the company, which translates into higher employee satisfaction and more opportunities to hire top talent (especially for younger workers).
Some companies also choose to develop in-house initiatives to encourage their team to contribute toward social efforts. Pro bono services, for instance, allow employees to volunteer for meaningful organizations or causes. Law firms often require attorneys and paraprofessionals to donate a certain number of hours for pro bono work. Doctors often volunteer for programs such as the recent mass vaccination clinics or Doctors Without Borders during work hours.
Volunteering is a fantastic way for a company to support the community, attract and keep customers who want to buy from companies supporting their values, and make employees feel good about the company they work for. It’s a win-win-win situation.
#6. Support customers
It might sound like a no-brainer, but being a company people respect and value is a great tool supporting both market performance directly and indirectly through employee issues. For example, no one wants to work for a company where they’re constantly subjected to customer complaints and unhappy customers. With the increasing tendency of irate customers to become verbally and physically violent, ensuring customer satisfaction is important for employee health as well as their happiness.
Slow response time or even a lack of social media engagement with your followers may create a negative impression on potential applicants. Companies that are more active on social media tend to be more attractive to professional talent. Some of the most meaningful social media activities for businesses include:
- Replying to mentions and queries quickly (ideally within 60 minutes)
- Handling customer care issues promptly and swiftly in public
- Sharing and commenting on relevant posts from users and clients
- Defusing negativity and criticism
- Apologizing when something went wrong
#7. Recognize employee efforts at work
Employee recognition connects the team to the business while failing to recognize employees who go above and beyond extinguishes this positive behavior. As one of the top 5 drivers of engagement, employee recognition is not optional anymore. Employees want to feel valued for their efforts. From thanking them to praising them, everyone values recognition. When workers feel taken for granted, they seek employment in places that will praise their skills instead so ensure you have processes in place to equitably recognize the efforts of employees.
#8. Bidirectional communication
Communication in an organization involves more than transmitting orders from superiors to subordinates. Bidirectional communication not only helps employees feel like a valued part of the organization (which contributes to employee satisfaction) but also brings new ideas into consideration. This is especially valuable as front-line workers have direct access to customers and understand what’s working and what isn’t. They also know which internal processes aren’t optimal. By inviting them to share ideas, the organization gains from their expertise and makes them feel part of the organization, which increases happiness and reduces turnover.
Involving employees in decision-making offers another benefit, as well. When employees have a voice in decisions, they offer less resistance to implementing change, even when the consensus was different than their idea.
Employees are more productive and happier when they have breaks from work. That includes long breaks such as weekends and holidays as well as shorter breaks for lunch and coffee distributed throughout the day. These breaks contribute to reducing stress as well as allow employees to build work friendships that contribute to their happiness at work.
Unfortunately, in some developed countries, taking breaks is considered a type of weakness or lack of commitment. For instance, in the US in 2019, 768 million vacation days went unused, a record that seems to grow larger every year.
These breaks are so critical that some organizations forbid employees to send or check email during break periods to ensure they come back relaxed and refreshed.
Your success is the sum of the talent inside your business. Skilled professionals drive growth. Yet, without a strategic approach to talent acquisition and retention, skilled professionals come and go. Creating a strategic business plan that shows how to turn your vision into reality is the first step of employee retention. Ultimately, nobody wants to stay in a company that doesn’t know where to go.
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