5 Not-So-Obvious Ways to Spoil Employees
Via LinkedIn : With the U.S. jobless rate holding steady at 5.1 percent, the lowest it has been since pre-recession March 2008, candidates can afford to be choosy. Employers that want to stay competitive must extend more than attractive salaries and robust benefits to court and retain exceptional talent.
Yes, comprehensive health coverage, a retirement plan with employer match, and workday flexibility are must-have programs in today’s market. And they go a long way toward job satisfaction, which in turn, has a considerable effect on a company’s profitability.
The United Nations-commissioned World Happiness Report underscored this link in 2012 with evidence that happy employees are more likely to come up with and share ideas, collaborate with colleagues in a positive manner, and achieve more at work.
So what else can organizations do to make employees happy? Here are five long-term benefits that show employees they are valued.
1. PRIORITIZE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Research shows that humans are happiest in a growth state. Sustained happiness requires us to venture past the things we like and feel comfortable doing to acquire new perspectives and skills, which clearly are a boon to employers as well.
Consider allocating an annual professional development budget for each employee, and ask them to get creative when proposing opportunities that align with both individual and departmental goals. TED-style conferences can be great, but improv workshops or presentation training might have more lasting value.
Keep in mind that growth opportunities don’t have to be prohibitively expensive. Shadowing a co-worker in a different department or signing up for a stretch assignment outside an employee’s day-to-day job are low-cost ways to provide enrichment and create a reliable pipeline for promotions from within.
The key is to make professional development available to everyone, not reserved for a select few.
2. INSIST ON GOOD MANAGEMENT
Whether you’re promoting managers internally or bringing on new hires to lead teams, outline what good management looks like and train people accordingly. Cultivating competent managers may be your best retention tactic given that more than 50 percent of workers say they leave jobs because of poor managers (Gallup, 2015).
External training programs can offer valuable insights, but the most effective management education is built from within and customized to mesh with your company’s core values and culture.
I started my professional career at an established nonprofit that prioritized effective management. As an entry-level employee, I went through management training in preparation of overseeing interns.
The principles of good management stuck with me, and when our agency expanded to 20 people, we realized we had people in supervisory roles without any training or clear expectations. We created a managerial philosophy and designed a training program that covers everything from conducting purposeful check-ins to giving constructive feedback.
We continually evolve the sessions by soliciting input from each round of participants on which areas to add, expand or eliminate.
3. CELEBRATE MILESTONES
It’s critical to acknowledge service and dedication in an industry where the pace and demands of work can lead to high employee turnover. Recognizing the first year of service with a card or additional vacation time (we throw in a pretty desk plant) makes employees feel valued earlier in their career.
Rewarding five years with a sabbatical gives people an extended break so they can come back recharged, reinvigorated, and refocused on their passion for the job. It is far less expensive to cover that person for a month than to lose the employee and start the hiring process from scratch.
4. SUPPORT FAMILIES
Helping employees juggle conflicting responsibilities shows that you care about their lives outside of work. This can take the form of official benefits (offering paid parental leave for dads), and unwritten rules (understanding when a director needs to leave early to coach her daughter’s soccer team or allowing employees to occasionally bring their kids to work).
Employees have to adjust their personal schedules when work demands spill over to nights or weekends–why not reciprocate that flexibility? Numerous studies point to increased well-being, a stronger commitment to the organization, and more intense effort among workers who have some measure of control over their schedules compared with those with rigid hours.
5. OFFER REFERRAL INCENTIVES
Talent begets talent. Your staff can and should be your primary recruiting engine. Why not tap into networks of colleagues for trusted recommendations by offering a referral bonus?
This system acknowledges that it takes time and effort on your employee’s part and compensates and rewards that output. An attractive incentive helps keep recruiting top of mind and likely makes current staff feel pretty happy about where they work.
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