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HR Matters // A Newsletter On: Creating exceptional workplaces and extraordinary results

I’ve been traveling non-stop since my last newsletter - delivering keynote speeches on How to Create a Solar System of Talent to the members of such organizations as the National Association of Lighting Distributors, launching the new Talent Magnetism Boot Camp at the YMCA of Greater Boston, and helping good managers develop into great leaders at my Suddenly in Charge two-day workshops. All of these events were in different parts of the country, yet the discussions were similar in nature — how can you find top talent that will stick around? Here’s where you can begin.

How to Engage & Retain Great Employees

Why do we bother to engage employees? Shouldn’t they be giving it their all because they feel fortunate enough to be employed by us? If that were the case, every person on your payroll would be giving 110%, and your employee turnover would be minimal. But it takes more than money to motivate employees to go above and beyond what you expect.

Knowing how to engage and retain employees is vital to your business’s success. Here’s how to create a workforce that will delight your customers.

The Importance of Engaging Employees

Businesses that make engagement a priority can enjoy a competitive advantage in talent recruiting and business results; one that's hard for others to replicate. The 2013 Trends in Global Employee Engagement study, conducted by consulting firm Aon Hewitt, confirms a strong correlation between high levels of employee engagement and sales growth in the years following the increased engagement. Employees are a critical component to every organization, and their morale and motivation can be the difference between high levels of profitability and barely getting by.

What Do Your Employees Need?

Begin by asking yourself what your employees need to be fully engaged. This will vary from one business to another. Consider conducting an employee climate survey or holding focus groups to learn more about your employees’ needs.

The drivers of employee engagement that surface in surveys typically include three components:

  1. Opportunity for development: Employees are seeking continuous growth. Yet when faced with the prospect of losing a key employee, money seems to be the remedy regardless of why the employee is leaving. You’d stand a much better chance of keeping top employees engaged and on your payroll by giving employees what they want — opportunities for career development.

  2. Help employees grow in their current positions. Establish performance goals that encourage employees to learn new skills. Wherever possible, cross-train employees so they can make a lateral move should another internal position open up. Demonstrate your commitment to employee development by providing reimbursement for those seeking to take classes or attend workshops such as my upcoming Suddenly in Charge sessions in Boston and Toronto.

  3. Employees want control over their work: Most people want to do good work, yet many employers operate as if this isn’t the case. Instead of asking employees for their input, they create policies and procedures that actually prevent employees from doing their best. I recently experienced this while shopping at a retail store without my loyalty card in hand. I could tell the sales person ringing up my transaction really wanted me to receive the discounted price, as he knew his job was to please the customer. However, company rules said that he could not do so without the risk of being fired. Eventually this clerk will tire of not being able to do his job well and will look for a role at another company that will give him more control over his work.

  4. Encourage employees to provide input when making changes that directly impact their jobs, and allow your people the ability to be in control of their work. When in doubt, ask those working most closely with your customers how to best service your clients.

  5. Employees want management to be sincerely interested in their well-being: The most engaged employees have a clear sense that their manager is always looking out for them. They know their manager will put them first in any situation.

  6. Take the time to get to know your people so you can provide them with the support they need to flourish. Most employees know how uncommon it is to be working for an exceptional leader, and will think twice before considering an offer from a competing firm.
The Bottom Line

A recent poll conducted by Right Management indicated that eighty three percent of employees are actively seeking new job opportunities. Knowing how to engage and retain employees will become even more important as the economy continues to improve. In some sectors we are already seeing an increase in employee turnover as workers seek greener pastures. Call us today to ensure that your people are extremely engaged so you can minimize the chaos that comes with high employee turnover.

The Donut Principle: Is Talent Oozing Out of the Hole in the Middle of Your Organization?

Historically, when one good employee departs the rest soon follow. Before long, all that is left is a big fat hole in the middle of the organization where talent once resided. I call this the donut principle. Surrounding the hole is a sprinkling of mediocre workers.

A lot of organizations these days are fat and happy. Their hallways are filled with leaders who continue to drink the Kool-Aid. These people are afraid to tell executives like you that the organization is bursting at the seams with an abundance of mediocre workers. Telling the truth might result in being sent out to pasture. So instead, they become part of the problem. They become mediocre leaders.

It’s time to take a pass on the donuts and get your organization back to a healthy place.

The Problem With Using Messengers

The other day I was in the car with my fourteen-year old daughter, driving home from an intense afternoon at the mall. All I could think about was resting my weary feet in my living room.

A text came in from my husband asking me what we were doing for dinner. In my haste, I asked my daughter to text him back and tell him we were driving home from the mall. I then began to rant about how inappropriate it was for him to ask me at the eleventh hour what we were doing for dinner. Little did I know that my daughter was texting everything I said back to him. Needless to say, I came home and had no choice but to wipe the egg off my face and apologize for a rant that was never intended for his ears.

In business and personal situations, some messages are better stated by you rather than asking a third person to deliver it. This is especially true if you want to be 100% sure that the message you are sending is exactly what you want the other person to hear!

Rules of Attraction: Your Monthly Tip on Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

I was recently coaching an executive on matters related to employee retention when he happened to mention that he had a performance review that was “a little bit late.” When I probed further, he confessed that the review was five months late. Believe me when I tell you that it’s the “little” things that matter - especially to today’s younger workers who prefer frequent feedback.

For more tips on attracting and retaining top talent, download a copy of Talent Magnetism. Call us today at 413-582-1840 if you are interesting in discussing how to maximize talent in your organization.

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Meet Roberta Matuson

For more than 25 years, Roberta Matuson has helped leaders in Fortune 500 companies, including Best Buy, New Balance, The Boston Beer Company, achieve dramatic growth and market leadership through the maximization of talent. New Balance, The Boston Beer Company, achieve dramatic growth and market leadership through the maximization of talent.

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