With improvements in the economy and job market on everyone’s wishlist, one of the things to be considered by employers is whether or not we can retain valuable talent. While we have been able to take advantage of the fact that high unemployment made some quality talent available to us, we don’t want to take for granted their contributions or the contributions of those who have elected to stay with us long term. People look out for themselves and their families, as they should, and it is our job to make sure we do what we can to retain them when the market improves.
When I say that, many of you will immediately think “money. We have to pay more. People leave us for better pay.” The truth be told, that often is not the case. Surveys have found that while employees say they are leaving for better pay, they reveal to the survey takers that the real reasons they left their employment did not center on the amount of compensation they received.
Why do they leave then? It is often said, and studies back it up, that employees leave their manager more than they leave their job. That’s hard to hear, isn’t it? Our employees are human, and human beings have a basic need to feel appreciated and to have that expressed to them. I learned long ago that the two most important words you can say to an employee are “thank you.” When you catch an employee doing a good job, you tell them. Recognize them publicly for that well-done project, in your employee meeting or on your bulletin board, newsletter, etc.
And when you want something done, it doesn’t hurt to say “please.” It is true, you don’t have to ask nicely (if you want to look at it that way) because you’re the boss and they have to do what you say. Consider yourself, though. You have a boss. Do you want your boss to issue dictates to you, or do you like to be “asked” to do a task? Of course you prefer to be asked! Either way, you know you have to do the task, and you also know it makes you more willing to do even the most unpleasant task if the request comes in a pleasant manner – a manner that conveys respect.
There are many factors that lead to employees leaving that most of us cannot control, such as flex time arrangements, job security, and benefits. But the big one – the fact that employees want to feel appreciated and valued – you can control that.