With unemployment at historic lows, the job market now is tight. It’s so tight that the NFIB August 2018 report found that a quarter of all small business owners cited the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their single most important business problem.
So how do you ensure that the employees you have will stay and the openings you have will be filled?
One key way is to learn what employees think and address their concerns.
Make employees feel valued
It’s a sad fact that about 70% of U.S. workers feel disengaged at work. This leads to workers changing jobs or having low productivity where they are (it’s estimated that as much as $500 billion is lost in productivity due to disengaged workers).
So it’s up to you to make sure that your staff is engaged. There are many ways to make employees feel like they matter to the company and are not merely bodies that can be easily replaced. Consider:
- Expressing gratitude. Thank employees for their contributions to the company. Depending on the circumstances, this can be a simple verbal thank you, a small reward (e.g., an afternoon off with pay), or monetary bonus.
- Listening to what they have to say. Hold regular meetings or have spot dialogues to hear their concerns. Where employees may be reluctant to express opinions for fear of reprisals, consider getting anonymous feedback so they feel free to express their true thoughts. This can be done, for example, with an app such as Medusa. Medusa is a free, easy to use app to pose questions and instantly receive anonymous answers so you can gain insights into what your team is really thinking.
- Challenging them. Look for ways that can best use employees’ talents and skills. Keep things fresh with new challenges. Mentor employees so they can increase their performance level and take on ever-greater challenges.
Give feedback to managers
Employees may have issues with their managers but often won’t express them. They’re intimidated; they’re scared. But managers need upward feedback from employees to improve their job performance. To do this, managers must explicitly welcome the feedback.
Upward feedback can be done as explained earlier. Be sure that employees are able to furnish specific examples of a manager’s actions—good or bad.
Detect company problems
Decisions by owners or other higher-ups may be not always be the right one and could even be detrimental to the company. It’s something that workers may see while owners do not. For example, the company may be planning to buy certain equipment that isn’t the best fit for employees; employees may know about alternative choices that could be better all around. Or employees may see waste and how it could be cut. Again, employees may not feel able to approach an owner and discuss concerns. But providing an atmosphere for open communication or a vehicle for anonymous feedback can solve the problem.
The company should have a sexual harassment policy where employees can report the behavior of another employee or a manager to the owner, HR, or other party specifically designated for this purpose.
Strategies for communications
In the old days, many companies used a suggestion box in which employees could place their comments. They could identify problems and offer their solutions to them. Some companies rewarded employees for good suggestions that were acted upon. There are surely some companies that continue this practice today.
But there may be a better way to involve employees with company progress and find out about issues that should be addressed. Consider providing an app, such as Medusa, where employees can provide anonymous feedback without fear of retribution. The company composes the questions, chooses who should respond (e.g., employees within a department), and then invites answers. It can also be used for two-way conversation, where follow-up questions can focus on “in the moment” problems.
I’ve always maintained that employees should be viewed as assets, not expenses. As such, you need to value them and seek their feedback.
This post was created in collaboration with Medusa, a free app for obtaining anonymous communications from employees. All opinions expressed in this post are my own and not those of Medusa.