If they could choose, would they stay?

In these troubled times, it’s hard for organizations to focus on employee moral and happiness. I’ve heard many ‘leaders’ say things like “they should be happy they have a job” when confronted with low moral and employee unhappiness.

My response to those ‘leaders’ is this:

Think about what will happen when the economy rebounds and the job market returns…will you be so casually responding to your employees’ low morale?  Most stare blankly at me and have no response.

I then hit them with “Do you think your employees will stay in your organization as soon as the rebound happens?”  To their credit, most have been honest and answered “no”.

Organizations *must* focus on their people during this downturn if they have any hope of surviving and thriving when the economy picks back up.

If you’re a manager, ask yourself this question to keep your focus on your people: If they could choose, would they stay?

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A Thought on Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has been seen as a ‘buzzword’ for some time but also been touted as something that every organization should focus on. It appears that there is some progress toward engaging employees (see the “Further Reading” below) but of course, many organization’s just don’t “get it”.

Instead of talking about how to engage employees (like I’ve done here and here), I wanted to take a second to address one simple little topic that any organization and/or person can implement that will help with employee engagement…or more importantly, help not to disengage employees.

What is the tiny & simple thing that you can avoid doing?

Don’t make your employees feel like under-appreciated (or worse unappreciated) drones.

Example

You bust your hump working overtime to bring a project in on time. You put in 50 to 60 hours and your team does the same. Each team member has demonstrated their abilities to get the job done many times over and morale is quite high.

After the project is complete and you’ve got some down-time, you have an opportunity to attend a seminar. The seminar is free and is directly related to your job and is being held at a local restaurant over lunch. You sign up for the seminar (hey…its free food an an interesting topic right?) and tell your boss that you plan on attending the seminar and then going home and plan to work from there the rest of the afternoon. Your bosses’ response:

Sure…go ahead..sounds interesting. But…I’m not sure I’m comfortable with you working from home…you’ll need to take a half-day off to do this.

Talk about pulling the wind of your sails….perfect way to disengage an employee.

Remember…if you want to get your employees more engaged, make sure they know they are appreciated. Pay attention to the small things…take an afternoon and go bowling with the team. Buy them a pizza occasionally. It’s usually these small things that will benefit you the most….and hurt the most if you don’t attend to them.

Further Reading:

Flexible working hours revisted

Management issues had posted another article (see the previous one here and my comments on the topic here) topic titled “Still suspicious of flexible working” that discusses a newly released study by HR consultancy Hewitt Associates. An excerpt follows:

The survey of 90 U.S. employers also found that two thirds believed that flexibility increased employee engagement and boosted employee retention, while half believed that it helped their recruitment efforts.

But despite this, flexible working still seems to be something of a corporate Cinderella, with barely more than a quarter of those surveyed having company-wide, formal written policies and almost the same proportion not even formally communicating the flexible working options they offer to their employees.

Four out of 10 companies have policies or guidelines that vary by location, business unit, department, or job class, and a third only offer flexibility at the discretion of individual managers. Moreover, seven out of 10 admitted they don’t measure the effectiveness of their programs in any way.

It’s good to see this type of research coming out and I hope that more organizations start looking at flexible working arrangements. As you probably know, I’m a big proponent of this type of work…a person doesn’t need to be sitting in their office to do their job (for the most part).

Viva la flextime! 🙂