As a leader, you want to engage and reward your employees because it ultimately helps the firm’s bottom line and is the right thing to do for your people. But, when the company’s cash flow is down to a trickle, and giving raises is off the table, how do you do it? While paying your team a fair, living wage is important, other strong motivators can keep everyone focused and content during lean times. The key is to tap into those that work for your company’s culture – and each employee.
Are resources tight?
If you’re not doing so already, get in the habit of recognizing good performance – both on the spot and after a prolonged period of effort. Tell your team that they’re doing a good job and thank them for all they do for the company. If you have the budget, consider giving small, individualized gifts to show your appreciation. For example, giving a fun coffee mug to a java lover is a meaningful way to reward them without breaking the bank.
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Employees are more likely to care about their work and stick with a company if they can see that their efforts matter. Be sure to communicate your firm’s mission regularly and clearly tie each person’s role to the organization's success. People are a business’s most important asset and should be made to feel that way.
Even though you may not be able to offer tuition reimbursement or send your team to an expensive multi-day seminar, there are several ways that you can keep them learning – and invested in the success of the organization. Sit down with them and map out their career path. Or, give them a stretch assignment or cross-training opportunity. You can also find many online training courses for a fraction of the cost of attending a live session.
This one may sound obvious, but have conversations with your team members. Ask them how they’re doing – and care about their answer. Solicit their opinion about making processes and procedures more effective to regain traction and get back on the path to prosperity. When appropriate, involve them in the decision-making process. This open dialogue will make them feel valued and have a true say in the company's direction.
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People spend much of their lives at work – so why not make the experience more enjoyable? Offer voluntary events like happy hours or potluck lunches. Implement casual Fridays. Or, have friendly competitions to win extra vacation days or small denomination gift cards. This is a great opportunity to get creative – so brainstorm unique ideas that fit your firm’s culture. If you make your office a fun place to be, people will want to stay even when times are tough.
More and more, employees expect their employers to be socially conscious and appreciate working for a company that values more than just profits. Show that you care about the community by giving your employees paid time off to volunteer. And, if possible, consider doing volunteer work as a team. It will feel great and strengthen the bond between you and your staff.
Truly knowing your employees will help you to engage them in ways that are tailored specifically to them. Omnia’s personality assessment will provide you with valuable insight into each team member’s strengths and preferences, enabling you to recognize them in meaningful ways and provide them with a personalized development plan. Best of all, the assessment process is easy and fun!
Tough financial times understandably make both leadership and employees nervous. There are affordable ways to keep the entire team tight-knit, happy, and proud to work for the company. By implementing some or all of the suggestions above, you’ll have a truly engaged workforce while you move towards the firm’s next successful period.
If you’re tired of hearing about Generation Y (i.e., Millennials) and what they like, don’t like, and want from work, you’re in luck! Generation Z (or whatever they’ll eventually be called) is in high school, which means they’ll be entering the workforce in just a few short years. Time to get ready!
A report by Knoll Workplace Research characterizes Generation Z (born after 1998 and counting) as:
While it may seem premature to be thinking about this stuff now (after all, Gen Z is composed of teens, pre-teens, and those not even born yet), when Gen Z first enters the workforce, they’ll be joining Gen X, Gen Y, and Boomers. That’s a big deal.
The author of "Baby Boomers Still Got Game; Where Does That Leave Gen X, Gen Y?" put it this way:
“This unprecedented generational smorgasbord is enough to turn even a Millennial's hair gray. From attitudes about work and career to vacation schedules to training and development, each generation has different needs and wants. Breaking down barriers and bridging gaps is no task for the faint of the heart, naïve, or unprepared.”
If your workplace is like most, it’s already multi-generational. That means you already have some first-hand knowledge of the various wants, needs, and expectations of the different generations. Hopefully, you’ve been paying attention and adjusting your work policies and procedures accordingly. If not, perhaps now is your chance to get a second bite of that apple.
Here then, are a few ways employers can start getting ready for Gen Z.
Develop a succession plan. People move on, and no one lives forever, so a succession plan makes sense no matter who’s coming of age. Still, many companies continue to struggle with succession planning despite the direct and indirect benefits of having one.
A 2015 study by Software Advice, an HR and recruiting technology research company, found that 62% of employees would be “significantly more engaged” if their company had a succession plan, and more than 90% of workers aged 18 to 34 said a succession plan would “improve” their level of engagement.
Now combine those stats with these findings in a recent report by Robert Half International titled “Get Ready for Generation Z” — 32% of Gen Z expects to be managing people 5 years out of college, and another 20% expect to be making their way up the corporate ladder. The bottom line? Gen Z will come into the workforce expecting to move on up or move on out. Smart employers will begin creating those career paths now.
Review your total compensation. Cash compensation has always been important, but cash is not the end all be all. Affordable medical and generous retirement benefits may be especially important to this generation that craves stability, and employers shouldn’t overlook the lure of flexibility and short commutes, either.
Ramp up employee development efforts. According to that Robert Half study mentioned earlier, Generation Z is comprised of learners who are “used to being taught.” Employers should take note of this depiction for two reasons: (1) by all reports, these workers will come to the job with a shortage of writing and “soft” skills (so they’re going to need learning, but employers can take comfort knowing they’re at least receptive to it) and (2) much like the Millennials, Generation Z will be more likely to stick with a job that provides continuous learning opportunities.
There are plenty of people who think “generational differences” are a bunch of bunk. We disagree. It’s true that not every-one born in a certain year will think and act a specific way, but there are enough commonalities to make a discussion worthwhile.
Is your company getting ready for Gen Z? Why or why not?
It’s the holidays, and it won’t be long before the sense of urgency your employees normally demonstrate takes a marked nosedive.
It’s only natural. Right on cue with the holiday parties, company-sponsored gift exchanges, and daily influx of seasonal treats most employees will start to slow down as they look forward to time away from work.
As the manager, how do you handle your employees’ requests for time off? Regardless of the holidays, you’re still responsible for seeing that work gets done, and some departments—such as Finance and HR—will experience workload increases as they scramble to meet year-end deadlines even while preparing for the year to come.
But employees have been known to get grumpy if not downright hostile when they can’t use “their” time. How should you decide who gets to leave and who must stay?
Here are a few suggestions.
Develop a System and Stick with It
Many companies have rules about how much notice employees need to give when requesting time off, but others leave these decisions to the manager's discretion. If that’s the case at your company, you’ll do well to develop your own system (whether based on seniority; first come, first served; or some other parameter), communicate it to your staff, and stick with it.
Be a Facilitator
A well-functioning team is likely capable of organizing itself around the issue of holiday employee coverage, so let your employees give it a shot. Be available to help facilitate any sticky areas, of course, but if Sue is okay covering the office so that Marty can fly home to be with family (even though Marty didn’t give the customary notice because his plans only came together at the last minute) let her.
The line between work and home has all but disappeared over the last few years, especially as smartphones have gotten more popular, and checking email has become a national obsession. If work from home would allow your employees to meet personal and work obligations, consider allowing it—ditto for a temporary part-time schedule or flexible hours.
Plan for a Slow Down
If at all possible, avoid assigning big projects or deadline-driven work as the holidays approach. You’ll be less frustrated (and so will your employees) if you avoid the possibility of certain conflicts even occurring.
Offer Special Incentives
If you can afford it, and it makes sense for your business, offer special incentives to entice employees to work when they otherwise wouldn’t. Special incentives could include spot bonuses, differential pay, or increased paid leave to be used at a later date.
Much has been written about the “nice” boss who can’t get the job done because he cares too much about being liked, but let’s face it—no one wants to work with a jerk! What’s more, employees will go out of their way to accommodate a boss they like and respect. Remember that the next time you’re tempted to fret the schedule.
And, finally, when all else fails …
Let It Go
If your department can survive on less than a skeleton crew, do yourself a favor and decide that stressing about who won’t be around as the year comes to a close is a worthless waste of energy. The holidays are a once-a-year event, and no matter how much everyone does, there will always be more work! So, for these few weeks, give in to the reduced pace as you wish your staff, “Happy Holidays!” Come January; it’ll be back to business as usual.
It’s understandable if employee leave requests are beginning to turn you into a bit of a Scrooge, but there’s no reason to lose your holiday spirit! Instead, follow our tips for managing employee absences, and then go ahead and enjoy the sights and sounds of the season.
What are your tips for managing employee absences during the holidays?
Who doesn’t like a party? Parties are fun! There’s music, food, laughter, and great conversation. No wonder most everyone enjoys a good party.
Your office holiday party, which typically occurs during work hours, is double the fun. Instead of being paid to work, employees are being paid to not work. How cool is that? Still, there are a few things your employees would appreciate more than a holiday party. Read on for the top 5.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 76 percent of professionals in private industry receive some paid vacation. And yet, stories about overworked Americans abound.
The Great Recession is to blame for some of this. Consider that many employees are still doing jobs previously performed by two people or more.
Technology is another culprit. Smartphones ensure that we’re plugged in virtually 24/7. We regularly send, receive, and respond to email messages off the clock. We manage to stay in touch but at the cost of precious downtime.
The bottom line? Your employees would like real time away from work without having to think about who needs what at the office or whether you’ll be displeased at the inconvenience of their absence. So, if you’re one of those managers with a reputation for piling it on and then looking sideways at your employees when they announce plans to be elsewhere, consider the costs, please. This tactic may work in the short term, but in the long term it’ll lead to burnout, workplace stress, resentment, reduced productivity, and lower quality.
A recent poll of more than 500 US HR and hiring managers revealed that two thirds of companies plan to give holiday bonuses this year, with the average amount expected to be $858.
As a sign of employer gratitude, nothing says “thanks” quite like cash, and employees always take notice when a company puts its money where its mouth is.
Good managers are so hard to come by, and they’re so very needed. If you’ve been hanging onto leaders who micromanage, create bottlenecks, or even abuse their staff, you’re doing your company a great disservice. Either coach these managers to greater performance or let them go. An annual holiday party can’t make up for the indignity of daily bad management.
Trust is an essential quality for any healthy relationship and that includes work relationships. Your employees will do their best work when they believe they have your confidence. Every employee needs room to take some risks and make some mistakes, so don’t hesitate to give your staff space to do things their way. It’s like they say: The best managers hire good people and then get out of their way.
Talented employees don’t need their hands held, but most welcome a little attention every now and again.
In general, employees like to know they’re doing what you want to the standard you want and that their work is making a positive impact on the company. That’s why managers who provide regular performance feedback and are otherwise available to give guidance and support without micromanaging are considered golden by their staff.
Holiday parties are a positive expression of a company’s appreciation of staff, and most employees enjoy these celebrations very much.
That said, nothing makes an employee smile quite like cash, and more important, a party (no matter how fabulous) can’t compensate for a bad manager, a lack of trust, or a lack of regular and constructive feedback.
If you’re hearing more moans and groans than Christmas cheer around the office this holiday season, you might have a larger problem on your hands than simply a case of employees who are already in vacation-mode.
Unhappy employees tend to be a little more vocal around Christmas and mid-summer when they’d rather be vacationing than spending time at their desks. In truth, most people tap-out once or twice a year, so this may be something you’re expecting, but it’s never a good idea to brush off grumbles as holiday humbugs. You may have a serious case of a disgruntled employee whose weariness is bubbling to the surface due to an overstretched tolerance for whatever it is that’s pushing them towards the door.
Everything from family pressure, illness, children, loss of a loved one, or relationship issues plays a factor in a person’s life. These situations are complex and come with their own set of deeper pitfalls that few can be blamed for falling into. We’re all human, and that humanity should be respected and supported.
If you have a good history with your employees (and you most certainly should), approach them and offer support. Be delicate and let them know you’ve noticed a change, and you’re sure it’s related to some personal burdens. Offer counseling or leave for personal time, where possible and appropriate, and show support for their struggle. It’s easy to forget other people have a whole world to contend with outside of their cubicle, and a great boss doesn’t downplay the importance of a balanced work-home relationship. You must facilitate a smooth integration of those two. If an employees’ work environment makes it difficult to balance their home life, or even contributes to its difficulty, then you’ve set yourself up to lose that person.
Sometimes the job itself can be the source of a disgruntled employees’ unhappiness. Admittedly, there are undeniably some jobs or job-related tasks that are less than enjoyable, but I’ve experienced that a proper attitude negates the worst part of any job. In my hospitality experience, there’s one task everyone knows needs to be done, but that no one ever looks forward to doing: cleaning for inspections. Everyone knows it’s coming, and we all know what ugly and neglected work needs to finally be faced (like scrubbing the floors under the grills, contorting to clean inside a muggy dishwasher, or spending frigid hours inside the refrigerator to scrub the corners that crumbs and lemons insist on making their new homes; they are surprisingly persistent about not staying in their crates). We made inspection times more fun by hosting “cleaning parties” with free pizza and incentives to participate.
Find out what’s grinding your employee's gears. If they’re being burdened with work they can’t handle, something that’s not theirs, or something they don’t know how or don’t want to do, find a solution that’s amicable for everyone involved.
Great employees and great jobs are killed all too easily by the work environment they find themselves in. My experience in managing an upscale chain restaurant is my biggest reminder of culture's power on the success or failure of any employee. Ruled by a knowledgeable yet dictatorial manager, staff were immediately mistrusting and spiteful of my presence in the restaurant. With a history of inconsistent and often abusive managing previous to my arrival, everyone was in a sad and destructive state. This caused drama that flared up at the earliest signs of tension, which caused unhappy moods and unhappy customers. Staff felt the restaurant's depressing mood, which caused a general distaste for the job and a despondent attitude towards management. The long-term result was high turnover, poor training, and revenue loss from an unpredictable customer-base that suffered from everyone’s negative attitude.
Your staff's environment is coming into every day could be the biggest reason why employees come-and-go, and why talented staff either under-preform or leave completely. Evaluate what’s triggering this easily disrupted workspace, and work to fix or amend it.
As is often said, teachers who are quick to say that their failing class of students are flunking because they can’t be bothered to learn should instead be saying, “I suck at my job. “A team, a class or staff will only do as well as their leaders. If staff are wry, unmotivated, and elsewhere focused, it’s perhaps not a flaw within them at all. Managers, especially those with much experience behind them, are reluctant to consider that their management style might be culprit. Some even outright dismiss the idea that their leadership is flawed at all. While your particular management style may not be the root cause of a very complex problem, it is most definitely a contributing factor.
Take a step back from the situation to watch yourself in moments of tension or drama. Chances are there’s something, large or small, that could be adjusted to result in a different outcome. Your staff looks to you for directive; if they’re given poor direction, they’ll either act on it, act out of it, react to it, or not act at all. If you want your employees to act and react in less volatile ways, or ideally in productive and cooperative ways, then it’s up to you to encourage that behavior with the right spark. In my next article, we’ll carve out a few of the worst management techniques that persist in toxic environments.
People spend more time at work than at home. It’s important that they are on your side and working towards a common collective, and are enjoying themselves as much as possible. If you’re determined to keep employees, keep them happy, focus on looking for the problem sources, and use your own determination to flip the situation around.
So what’s leading your staff towards the door?
There are limits to employee loyalty. You may have a good company. You may be a good boss. You may provide your employees with the type of work that engages them. But if you’re not keeping up with compensation trends, you may be wasting your time.
Consider this statistic: the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 2.7 million employees quit their jobs in February 2015, representing an increase of almost 250,000 departures from February 2014.
Compensation could be a contributing cause of these high turnover rates. According to a recent survey by Robert Half, an international staffing and independent research firm, many companies are losing good employees for one simple reason: they’re not paying competitive wages.
Robert Half asked CFOs, “Which one of the following is most likely to cause good employees to quit?” and also asked employees, “Which one of the following is most likely to cause you to quit your job?” Their responses are as follows:
|Inadequate salary and benefits||28%||38%|
|Limited opportunities for advancement||22%||20%|
|Unhappiness with management||14%||16%|
|Lack of recognition or respect||12%||6%|
|Bored with their job||8%||10%|
|Don’t know/no answer||4%||0|
*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.
In another Robert Half survey, 25% of CFOs revealed that they lost a good employee to a company that offered a job with higher compensation in the past year.
We spoke with Paul McDonald, Senior Executive Director of Robert Half, about current compensation trends and the survey results' implications. According to McDonald, highly skilled employees across various industries know there are more job opportunities, and they have increased leverage when it comes to receiving higher salaries. “Employers are facing greater competition for top candidates, and experienced candidates are receiving multiple offers.”
As a result, McDonald says employee retention should be at the forefront of every company’s radar, especially given the current market. “If a manager can't remember the last time wages were increased for their star performers, those employees may be ready to walk out the door.”
He recommends “re-recruiting” your best employees before they get a better offer elsewhere, and says this can be accomplished by reinforcing the worker’s value to the organization and providing them well-defined career paths.
So how can you ensure you’re paying your employees at or above market rates?
McDonald suggests that managers regularly benchmark salaries against other companies in their region and industry to ensure they are at or above market standards. “Many companies are making proactive adjustments now, through salary increases as well as promoting from within, to keep their best and brightest employees.”
Managers can also consult industry reports such as the Salary Guides from Robert Half. Using these resources can help to ensure you’re paying attractive salaries to your best workers.
Also, McDonald advises managers to check in with their employees, particularly about benefits, to ensure that what the company is offering is valuable to workers. Take internal surveys to discover which incentives are most important to them.
But suppose your company is below the market average and not in a position to offer raises? Does this mean you’ll have to kiss your best workers goodbye? Not necessarily, but you’ll need to focus on creating a really great work environment. McDonald offers three tips that can help to improve employee satisfaction:
Money isn’t everything, but realistically speaking, it plays a vital role in determining the type of lifestyle your employees can enjoy. Paying above – of at least at – market levels can help you retain the brightest and best workers. And if you can’t be known for paying the best wages, aim to have the best workplace to keep your employees happy.