Ricky’s got a problem. The problem Ricky has is this: his staff keeps getting poached by other companies.
“Why do you keep leaving?” he asks, “I have a full egg buffet, the fridge is always stocked with mince and there’s not a day that goes by that we don’t chest pump while shouting our own names!”
Ricky loves eggs, but the door keeps slamming. All it takes is for his business rivals to raise a suggestive eyebrow and his staff go running. He may as well install a revolving door.
Ricky’s got a staff retention problem. It may sound like The BinLid Boys HQ has it all, but this ignores the fact that his staff is made up of: four vegetarians, three haphephobics and an amateur beekeeper who can’t seem to leave his hobby at home. Plus the office permanently smells of eggs, which is gross. Top o’ the Bin To Ya, Britain’s premier Irish-themed dustbin covering company have taken 50% of his staff, a third of his business and they don’t look to be slowing down.
Ricky’s staff poaching problem – one of them at least, he also has serious trust issues – stems in part from his lack of employee engagement. But it’s not just a problem for Ricky; it’s becoming an increasingly pressing problem for businesses as we come out of a recession and into a boom time.
Companies want to grow, and what is most effective in growing businesses is its people – engaged, active and enthused people. Studies show that any other core business metric you want to track – profitability, productivity, customer satisfaction, quality and staff retention, and sales – are all higher at companies with a tracked and high concentration of engaged customers.
People are taking note. According to a recent study from Deloitte, 78% of business leaders say that employee engagement is an urgent and important priority .
Which leaves the question – how do I engage my staff? Ricky has started down the right path. It’s just that he’s invested in many incorrect assumptions. Where did he go wrong?
Everyone doesn’t like eggs – you need to listen to your staff
Ricky doesn’t listen to his staff. For anyone who wants to provide a workplace that people want to come to everyday, you need to listen to your staff. There are a number of ways that you can do this without sitting down with each member of your team (because not everyone has time). Suggestions boxes – virtual or physical – are a great way to find out what your staff is thinking. Make sure you stress the anonymity of these though; because no one wants to be singled out for rubbishing the one horse the CEO has put all of his or her chips on.
You don’t always know best – take advice, then take action
Listening to your staff is one part of good employee engagement. The next is making sure you actually find a way to address their concerns. As a manager you will need to take your ego out of the game. Acknowledge your weaknesses, address any criticisms aimed at you and be humble and practical. Address the issues you can, acknowledge and respond to the ones you can’t.
Open internal communications
This is not only imperative for the reasons listed above, but for you to let your company know where they are heading with you. Let them in on the company’s goals, values and where you will all be in five years. Newsletters, intranets and even plain old pinboards are all great ways of doing this. And because they’re internal, have fun with them. A slick design, entertaining office story or even something more interactive – a quiz – are all great ways to encourage your staff to share and get involved in your company.
And that’s what you want your staff to be – involved, engaged and active.
Fast forward two weeks into the future. Ricky has just read this blog and he’s trying to work out how to put some of these points into practice and fix his staff retention problems.
He sends out an email to his egg guy: “Cancel the buffet.”
He sends out a text to his mince man: “Hold off on today’s mince.”
He removes the “chest pump” event in his diary.
Next, he opens a new email window. In the subject line he types: “What do you think we should be doing to make this office a better space?” He sends it out to all of his employees.
He gets seven instant ‘failure to deliver’ replies. His staff are now all working across town at Top o’ the Bin To Ya.
Rick recognised the importance of employee engagement too late. Don’t let yourself fall to the same fate.