An Employee-Centric Company: How to Find and Retain Quality Employees

This article was written by guest author, Jim McKinley of Money With Jim, retired banker providing free financial counsel. 

Companies spend a lot of time and money trying to attract the best and brightest employees—people who can help the business grow and remain competitive in the marketplace. Unfortunately, over time some employers lose sight of the fact that these individuals are human beings, not cogs and wheels.

Employees have specific needs which must be met in order for them to feel happy, fulfilled, secure in their roles and, perhaps most importantly, appreciated for the work they do. Meeting those needs is not difficult; it simply requires a commitment to maintaining the best workplace environment possible—one capable of not only attracting new talent, but hanging onto it. And that’s not an easy task. In fact, according to a Willis Towers Watson survey, only 42 percent of employees feel like their company is effective in retaining talent.

You cannot overlook the importance of job satisfaction among staff, whether you run a large company or are a solo contractor looking to hire help. Otherwise, employee optimism, motivation, and enthusiasm will suffer—and so will retention rates. Here are some ideas for how businesses can find and retain quality employees.

An employee-centric environment

One of the best ways to alienate employees is by treating them like objects rather than people. An employee whose superiors don’t call him by name, or ignore him altogether, will not feel appreciated or believe his efforts are making a difference. Everyone wants to leave work at the end of the day feeling like they’re good at what they do, and that their employer recognizes them for it. This is why it is crucial for organizations to create an employee-centric environment. Fortunately, there are many ways to do that, such as:

  • Congratulating employees for their accomplishments.
  • Seeking employee input based on their knowledge of the job and company.
  • Giving employees the leeway to work independently as much as possible.
  • Implementing an incentive-based reward program.

Spell it out

One of the worst disservices you can do to an employee is to leave him with only a vague sense of his job responsibilities and your expectations for his role. Clear, direct, and open communication is key, especially if there’s a problem that needs addressing or if a change in responsibility is instituted. No employee likes being left in the dark, so be very open about your expectations. There’s nothing wrong with allowing an employee to refine and expand the horizons of his role, but he must know his basic responsibilities and what goals he should be striving to achieve.

Growth and advancement

Job satisfaction and personal enthusiasm depends, to a large degree, on the sense that an individual has opportunities to grow within the company. Make sure there are clear means for advancement within the company by offering training programs. Provide opportunities that allow employees to demonstrate their talents and gain the notice of superiors who will remember them when an opening comes available. Hire interns and establish a positive and meaningful system of mentoring.

Open, honest communication

Few things are more frustrating for an employee than finding out that a superior has no real interest in their thoughts or ideas. Establish a clear forum for open and honest communication between employees and management. Ideally, this should be an in-person venue, though remote workers will require online-based interactions. Practice active listening, ask questions, and accept suggestions from individual employees for improving processes. As CIO.com suggests, institute a weekly “town hall” meeting where the latest developments can be communicated and important topics addressed. Again, clarity and honesty are key.

During the hiring process, tout all of the ways in which you encourage employees to participate in growing the company, and spell out how the company has put employee input into action in the past. Perform your due diligence with each new candidate to ensure you’re getting the best person for the job, then empower that employee to succeed in his role. By focusing on employee satisfaction, you can help improve the quality of talent coming through your door, and in turn, increase retention.

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