With more and more of today’s young professionals turning to home-based operations, freelancing, and startups, it’s becoming harder and harder for traditional businesses to find and keep the new talent in the workplace. But of course, if you’ve fought hard to win over a really great candidate, you want to keep them happy and engaged in your company. Here are a few simple tips that can help out any boss in producing a more positive and productive workplace.
- Be a Listener
While you can’t make every single one of your employees equally happy all at the same time in every aspect, you can get pretty close by listening to them frequently and by taking quick action when they have concerns. Schedule regular time to meet with your employees to check in with them and find out if they have any concerns or if there are any problems. Make the situation as comfortable and low-stress as possible, so that they feel comfortable telling you truthfully when something is wrong. However, if you still feel like you aren’t hearing the full story, find ways for them to speak up in less direct ways. Ask an HR representative to offer open office hours or provide an anonymous comments box in the breakroom.
When you do hear of a problem, do your very best to take quick action. If you can’t provide immediate redress for the problem, talk with your employee in a prompt manner about why you can’t take action. Whether the problem is lack of available funds or conflict of interests, make sure they know so they don’t think you just didn’t listen. Invite them to give you feedback on how you can help them handle the issue in the meantime. For example, if someone wants a new hire to help them with work and there are no funds available right now, find a way to decrease their workload or offer them increased overtime compensation.
- Give Positive Reinforcements
Psychologists agree that the best way to encourage good behaviors is by positive reinforcement of good performance as opposed to punishment of bad behaviors. If your company doesn’t currently do this, start an employee-of-the-month program. Have special, custom signs printed up online via eSigns to announce the winner and give a reward like a small bonus, a gift card, or a free lunch.
However, if you don’t provide your whole team with some type of encouragement, a program that rewards only individuals could lead to competitiveness and poor spirits. Counteract this by putting in place a monthly lunch plan in which employees can take a lunch on the clock at the company’s expense (provided there aren’t any ridiculous expenditures).
- Treat Layoffs Seriously
Nothing creates a poor work environment quite as quickly as the sense that employees are not valued or that they are being constantly watched and judged. This can happen very quickly when an employee is fired without warning, which comes as a shock to the rest of the team. If you are hearing or noticing performance problems with an employee, make sure you give them opportunities to address the problem before you take action. Let them know specifically what the problem is and specifically what they can do to fix it. You should also give them a definite timeline so that they know that if, by a certain point, things haven’t changed, that you will be taking action. However, if you find that there is a good reason to explain the problem, do what you can to help the employee address the problem that is preventing their success so that they don’t feel trapped. If it makes sense to do so, offer to help the employee find another position in the company or to write a recommendation letter if you feel that the company would do better at a different department or partner company, for example.
- Be a Leader
The best leaders are the ones who feel success when the whole team feels successful. Make your values as a leader concrete and specific and make sure your employees know what they are. Include them, printed out, in a manual, or have them framed in the breakroom. Find ways to embody these values, and by positive example, you encourage imitation. It is helpful to read some leadership books if you feel as though you need to brush up. Celebrate the successes of your employees and feel their failures with them. Being relatable but respected, like a good parent, is the best way to find success.