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Keeping your employees happy isn’t easy. In fact, it’s probably the most difficult aspect of running a business. Ordering supplies, marketing and interacting with customers is relatively easy compared to retaining talent long-term.

The trick here is to give your employees what they want. If you can do this, they will stop assuming that the grass is always greener on the other side and make a genuine commitment to you.

So what, exactly, are employees looking for?

Flexible Time Off

While employees receive statutory annual leave, many also want flexible time off to run errands, look after their kids, and just take a break from work when the pressure gets too much. Flexible time off, also sometimes called personal vacation time, is therefore becoming more popular.

You don’t have to offer a huge amount of flexible time. Four weeks’ standard time off plus five working days of personal vacation per year should be sufficient. This way, workers can take time off for their birthdays, religious holidays that fall outside of the mainstream, or just when it suits them. 

Respect

Here’s another big one that employees want: respect. They don’t want to feel like they are disposable and that you could just get rid of them at any time. They want a sense that you value them.

Showing employees respect is easy. Here’s what to do:

  • Don’t call or email them out of hours, unless it is an emergency
  • Always listen to what they have to say before making a decision
  • Explain your actions
  • Avoid belittling or attacking your employees in any way, even if they fail to perform their roles
  • Offer support and training at all times to help them improve their skills

Responsiveness

Employees are also looking for employers who are responsive to their needs and actually make changes to their working environment following feedback. Being responsive goes beyond simply offering a listening ear (though that can help) and involves making real changes.

Learning


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Learning is a critical aspect of practically every employee engagement model. The reason for this is simple: learning helps workers increase their value over time, improving their long-term job prospects tremendously.

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Just look at the amount of money that Fortune 500 companies invest in their people each year. Often it is more than their base salaries. It’s worth it, though, because it makes employees happy and it gives your business a return.

Achievement

Going to work and just going through the motions isn’t enough for most workers. They want to feel like they have really achieved something after a day in the office.

The trick here is to put people in roles where they are able to succeed. Don’t put highly technical workers in people-facing roles, or vice versa. Make sure that everyone is competent in their positions. Don’t allow the difficulty of the work to rise too much for those at lower pay grades.

Trust

Believe it or not, many of your employees are begging you for trust. They want you to give them permission to spread their wings and take on more responsibility. They don’t want to feel like they are back in school and that you’re the teacher, telling them what to do.

You can also improve their trust in you by admitting mistakes and always following ethical policies, no matter what. While doing the right thing has costs in the short-term, it invariably pays off in the long-run.

Communication


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Just keeping people informed about what you’re doing is a great way to build your company culture and encourage workers to stay with you for longer. If you run an office, host regular in-person daily meetings to discuss important business matters and gather feedback. If you have a remote team, schedule regular Zoom sessions and Skype calls so that you can keep everyone in the loop about what you have planned.

In today’s economy, there is no excuse for poor communication. There are so many tools and technologies available.

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Workplace Pride

While it might sound a little old-fashioned, many workers are begging for workplace pride. They want to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves, and that what they do really matters.

Worker pride starts from the top. What’s more, it’s actually easy to achieve. All senior management needs to do is create a compelling narrative that people in the company can actually believe in.

For instance, if you run a chain of grocery stores, your narrative could be how you’re “feeding the nation” or “providing nutrition to people at discount prices.” Once employees understand the narrative, they will automatically feel better about their job. It’s not just about going through the motions, but about the contribution that they are making to society.

A Hang-Out Area

Employees don’t always work solidly throughout the day. Sometimes, they take a rest.

Unfortunately, many firms lack a suitable hang-out area where they can go. People wind up spending time awkwardly standing in communal kitchens, corridors or foyers.

To avoid this, build a dedicated hang-out area at your workplace. Make sure that the room has plenty of comfortable seating, facilities to make drinks, and perhaps games if it fits your company brand. Tell employees that they can spend time there whenever they want, as long as they hit their targets and deadlines.

Insurance

As a group, employees tend to be a relatively risk-averse group. That’s why they are workers, not entrepreneurs, entertainers or self-employed.

Because of this, they love insurance products. They want to protect themselves from every eventuality so that their lives remain predictable.

As a business, you probably already have some insurance in place, such as workers comp and liability cover. However, you can add optional extras as benefit-in-kind perks that employees will love. These might include life insurance, health insurance, or dental insurance. The more cover you can offer, the happier they will be.

Authority

Delegating authority to employees can feel a little unnerving. After all, your business is your baby – you don’t want anyone else controlling it. 

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However, all great business leaders delegate. They know that if they want to get things done, they need to trust the people around them. Constantly reserving authority for oneself can lead to paralysis.

To avoid this, find people in your organization you can trust. Give them authority to make decisions on your behalf and in the interest of the company.
In general, you’ll find that if you trust people, they will do the right thing.

Fairness

Fair companies treat all employees the same way and don’t have favorites. They make sure that everyone feels as though they are a part of the team.

You can criticize people, but make sure that it is consistent. Don’t shout at one employee and then politely talk to another about the same issue.

Work-Life Balance

If you want to attract talented employees during the Great Resignation, you’ll also need to pay more attention to work-life balance issues. Many workers are rejecting the idea that they should be at their employers’ beck and call, 24/7, just because they get a paycheck at the end of the month. They want to be able to enjoy their lives outside of work.

Work should be something that fits into their hectic lifestyles, not the other way around. Life should come first and then work second.

To help balance your employees’ lives better, always insist that they take time off and enjoy themselves outside of work. Make sure that they take their vacation time and don’t stay in the office late every night.

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