Happy wife, happy life, the expression goes.
Employers should think of their relationship with employees as a marriage of sorts. After all, employees spend as many waking hours in the workplace as they do with their spouse. And money alone can’t buy love.
An expression of affection or appreciation goes a long way toward winning a heart, but your partner also needs to know you’re invested in his or her growth. Likewise, your employee needs to view you as a nurturer of dreams, or else he or she will contemplate a separation.
Like a broken marriage, a fractured workplace can be expensive. The phrase “cheaper to keep her (or him)” applies to your business as well. According to a Center for American Progress study, it can cost 20 percent of an employee’s annual compensation to replace her or him. That doesn’t include lost productivity while plugging the hole in your organization or potential hits to work quality, employee moral and company revenue.
Here are some tips to keep employees feeling so happy, productive and valued that they’ll stick around:
Talk to them.
Communication is essential to any relationship, and crucial to the performance of an organization. Just as the silent treatment can make the person on the receiving end miserable, a lack of communication between you and your employees can breed insecurity, mistrust and a lack of direction that leaves your employees looking for a more attentive “partner.”
You have them at “hello.”
“She doesn’t know I exist,” applies to more than romance. When employees feel ignored, it fosters insecurities that can send them looking for another organization. Making your employees feel valued goes beyond a pay stub; they need to know you care. Engage your workers: get to know their hobbies, ask about their families and smile! Face time is quality time and promotes loyalty.
Just as boredom can doom a relationship, an employee who feels unchallenged, uninspired or without opportunity for advancement will seek greener pastures. Pushing your employees beyond what they believed they were capable of is a win-win for your organization. As long you’re fostering their growth, you’ll have their attention.
Coach, don’t manage.
Provide the resources and training your employees need to reach their potential. They'll appreciate your investment in them, and strive to validate it with their performance.
Convey your organization’s mission, values and expectations. Empower employees to the extent that they become ambassadors for your organization, inside and outside the workplace. To the extent they embody the organization’s culture, they will be less inclined to leave it.
A happy workplace is a more productive one. Recognize your employee’s achievements in ways big and small, whether it’s a simple “thank you,” a bonus or a promotion that in the long run will be less expensive than a replacement. As Richard Branson says, “Train people well enough so they can leave; treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”