In the past, it was common for people to stay at a company for years, even decades. Loyal employees were rewarded with stability and good benefits. But in recent years, even the promise of stability is not enough to keep top talent. In fact, employees may find that changing from job to job can be lucrative, often resulting in a 10 to 20 percent salary increase.
While that’s great for the employee, it’s very difficult and costly for employers. Factor in the time it takes to recruit and train a new hire, loss of work production, and higher salary demands, and turnover becomes a very costly experience for a company. In fact, the Center for American Progress found that turnover costs a company one-fifth of that employee’s salary. Now more than ever, retaining great employees is crucial for a company’s bottom line.
While some companies work to combat high turnover by creating a system to quickly assimilate new employees, it’s not a sound business model. Not only does this model devalue the advantages of a seasoned employee, but it also neglects the influence of turnover on company culture as a whole.
A company culture that encourages each team member to grow can result in tenured employees who add value. Tenured employees are more productive and thus more valuable to a company. But the productivity doesn’t end at one person—it affects the whole team. The longer people work together, the more likely they are to better communicate, which can also result in better productivity. In fact, a survey conducted by Harris Interactive found that 34 percent of respondents noted that “communication bottlenecks impact their productivity” negatively.
But once someone leaves a company, questions emerge from the remaining employees. Why did they leave? Are there better opportunities out there? Could I find one too? One employee’s departure can lead to two, and then maybe three, costing the company even more money.
There are many effective measures employers can take to reduce turnover. One of the easiest ways to reduce turnover is to ensure your workplace instills respect and self-worth among its employees.
Why Respect and Self-Worth Matter
It’s simple, really: People want to feel valued and believe their work has meaning. In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), 50 percent of employees who reported not feeling valued at work were looking for a new job, while only 21 percent of those who reported feeling valued said they were doing the same. In addition, 93 percent of the employees that felt valued reported they were motivated to do their best work possible. Self-worth and respect not only improve retention, but showing employees you value them can improve work productivity and engagement. Multiple studies show engaged and happy employees perform better, miss less work, and are better assets to a company overall.
By becoming aware of some of the pitfalls many employers make and adjusting a few simple practices within the workplace, employers can create a better work culture that results in happier employees. Happier employees equals reduced turnover and ultimately saves money.
Behavior and Habits That Are Toxic and Disrespectful
Behavior and attitudes, both good and bad, can affect the people around us. Research suggests happiness can rub off on others while negative behavior can cost businesses billions. Negativity is extremely harmful and can poison the workplace. As an employer or manager, it’s important to take a look at your own practices and avoid these behavioral pitfalls:
Showing up late to a meeting, even if it is informal, shows a disregard for other people’s time. Yes, you may be really important within the company. But if you have a meeting time, stick to it. Of course there are unavoidable situations that mean you need to reschedule. In these circumstances, make sure to let the person or people know as soon as there is a roadblock in your schedule, and apologize appropriately. Don’t make a habit of being even a few minutes late to every meeting. The message you send to other people in the meeting is: My time is more important than your time. That is no way to make people feel valued and respected.
Common courtesy can go a long way. There are varying forms of disrespect. For example, showing disregard for an employee’s ideas or talking over him or her is incredibly disrespectful. If you are unsure how employees perceive you, the tried and true method of “treat others as you would like to be treated” is the best way to keep yourself in check. In addition, make sure employees know they can speak up about workplace disrespect either to you or an HR person, reinforcing the point that their voice matters.
Allowing others to be disrespectful
Equally bad, if not more hurtful, is when a manager sees one peer disrespect another peer and does not appropriately correct the action. This sends the message that you don’t care about the way your co-workers treat each other. Additionally, your silence can be interpreted as agreement with the disrespecting person.
Employees look to their managers for support. If you give your word that you’ll do X or accomplish Y, then you better do it. Otherwise your employee will lose faith in your ability to follow through on your promises, and eventually they may lose respect for you in general. If you can’t produce what you promised, then let your employee know right away and explain why you cannot deliver. This candor shows honesty and leadership, and provides the employee with an example of how you expect him or her to act in the workplace.
A healthy relationship is one where there is honest and open communication. If you’re defensive every time someone questions one of your ideas or actions, people will think communication is not welcome. This leads to employees who eventually shutdown and remain silent even when they have important and innovative ideas. A company then receives decreased value from its employees.
Gossiping about team members to other employees is a recipe for disaster made only worse if you’re a manager. Telling an employee sensitive information about their peers suggests not only that you disrespect that person, but that you cannot be trusted.
Lack of interest in team members
Showing a lack of concern or interest for your employees’ lives, especially their work lives, says you don’t care about them as individuals and probably don’t care about their personal growth or happiness at work either.
Nothing can lose the respect of your team faster than blaming others for your own mistakes. It makes people fearful and wonder when they’ll be thrown under the bus. It’s best to own up to your mistakes and quickly work to resolve whatever issues are present. This will help fix the issue, and help earn the respect of your team.
Behavior and Habits That Build Self-Worth
Creating a work culture that builds employees’ self-worth means a happier workforce. And a happier workforce means higher quality work, a drive to exceed expectations and goals, as well as more long-term employees. In addition, a positive atmosphere may attract other similarly minded, high-performing employees. Employers and managers should help build their team’s self-worth with the following steps:
Praise good work
Nothing feels better than validation for a job well done. This is not to say you should praise every little thing an employee or team member does. (If you give out praise constantly, then it loses its significance.) However, when someone has completed a project or task exceptionally well, praise them. Acknowledging someone’s hard work costs nothing, yet it boosts an employee’s self-confidence and increases his or her willingness to continue working hard.
Celebrate and reward success
Praising good work is a great place to start, but it’s also a good idea to celebrate success and reward hard work. Whether it’s a celebratory happy hour for completing a project ahead of schedule or give a bonus to someone who had an outstanding sales quarter, celebrations can improve the entire team’s morale and motivate all workers to keep up the hard work. A word of caution: Celebrations and rewards should match the work that’s being recognized. A last minute and poorly planned gathering to acknowledge the end of a project will feel less meaningful. Additionally, financial bonuses should correlate with the amount of money the employee either saved or earned for the company—maybe a $50 gift card won’t cut it if someone just closed a $1 million deal.
Acknowledge strengths and weaknesses
Calling attention to an employee’s weak point in a constructive manner can help foster growth and show you care. The trick is to be helpful in this criticism and demonstrate you’re willing to assist toward making a positive change. In addition, when discussing weaknesses, it’s a good idea to praise an employee’s strengths. By addressing weaknesses and acknowledging strengths, you help an employee feel like you appreciate and value them enough to work on self-growth.
Help employees grow professionally
Employees want growth opportunities. One of the main factors that leads to losing talent is the lack of growth and advancement opportunities. For this reason, it’s crucial to help employees succeed in professional goals, even if it means losing them to another department at the same company. If your company is small and doesn’t have much upward mobility, provide other ways to help employees grow, such as teaching new job skills and providing more challenging projects.
Create open discussions
Employees want to be a part of the team and company. They want to feel that their opinions matter and can directly influence their work. By creating open discussions that allow team members to be included in decision making, you create an environment where employees know their opinion matters.
Trust employees and stop micromanaging
Micromanaging can be the death of employee happiness. Micromanaging every task conveys you don’t trust employees to do their jobs. And, no one wants to be micromanaged. Instead, focus that energy on providing adequate training. Then allow the employee to do that job, perhaps away from the office at times (if possible). Allowing people to work from home from time to time shows you trust them to get the job done. In addition, studies suggest flexible work arrangements are also related to employee happiness and job satisfaction, further increasing higher morale and self-worth.
Engaging with your team members can go a long way in growing an employee’s self-worth. By engaging with people on a personal level at work, employers show they legitimately care. A simple “hello” in the morning or check-in after lunch takes little time out of the day, but the overall effect it has on morale is astounding.For managers, this reduces the potential hesitation for an employee to ask for help.
Just like engagement, listening to an employee can positively affect self-worth and company culture. Meet with team members and allow them the opportunity to tell you what is going well, what went horribly wrong, and what landed somewhere in between. A lot can be learned in these check-ins, but you have to listen. Ask a few questions to get things going, but allow the employee to direct the conversation. They will feel valued knowing their manager took time to listen to what they had to say. These quick meetings can also bring your attention to anything that may be amiss and needs correcting.
By avoiding negative behaviors that show disrespect and instead engaging with employees in a meaningful way that improves their self-worth, employers will create a more positive company culture, reduce turnover, and ultimately save money.