Kim Runyen
Feb 11, 2016

Are You Still Courting Your Employees? 5 Ways to Keep the Spark Alive

February is a month dominated by love, mostly thanks to one particular holiday celebrating all things red, chocolate and romantic. However, one very important relationship doesn’t always get the attention it deserves – that between an employee and their employer.

While it is clearly important to tend to your personal relationships, the truth is that you spend a significant portion of your life with your work colleagues. Unfortunately, most people simply do not put forth the necessary effort to nurture the employer/employee relationship for long-term, mutually beneficial success.

In honor of Cupid’s big day, we have put together some of our HR experts’ best tips for managers to help their employees feel the love.

1) Get engaged

We’re not asking you to get on one knee or pull out a diamond ring but we are asking you to make a commitment. An engaged employee is one who cares about your business – who doesn’t show up to collect a paycheck but genuinely feels like they are part of the company’s success. An engaged employee feels valued and is emotionally involved with his/her job. An engaged employee genuinely loves their job and the people they work with (for the most part). For this employee, leaving the company would be a tough decision that would require a very compelling reason.

If you want your employees to give you their all – and do so for a long time – you must engage them at every turn. The rest of the tips, below, all contribute to cultivating employee engagement.

No ring required!

2) Communicate

Communication is key to all successful relationships and the one with your employees is no exception. In order to feel like they have a stake in your business, you and your employees need to be on the same page. This means taking the time and effort to share with them any information that you are at liberty to share. This goes for both good news and bad news. It is always much better to be transparent and upfront with information that will impact them. While you may not be legally allowed to talk about financial troubles, compliance issues or legal snafus, try to make sure your employees are as knowledgeable as possible about your business.

Additionally, open and honest communication builds trust. And trust, as you probably know, is vital to a healthy relationship.

3) What about their needs?

Yep, just like your other relationships, this one is also a two-way street. It’s easy for companies to talk at their employees. This is especially true as they grow and add additional staff. Start scaling your company early-on for a culture of employee engagement by doing one thing that so few employers take the time to do: Listen.

Yep, listen to your employees. Ask them about themselves, their goals, their thoughts and their feelings. Talk to them both about their point of view on the company as a whole and their role in it. What would they like in their career that you aren’t currently providing? What can you do to increase their happiness? What is their opinion on the current state of things? Ask them open-ended questions and then stop talking so they can share. A few ways you can implement this level of engagement into your current managerial duties:

  • Take five minutes at the end of your weekly one-on-one meetings to take your employee’s temperature on how things are going in their job. Then ask them what they need from you in order to bridge the gap between where they are and where they would like to be. Resolution will not always come right away but just showing a good faith effort to keep them happy can go a long way toward a satisfying and fulfilling relationship.
  • Hold forums where employees are allowed to submit their feedback. This can also be done anonymously through a comment website or an online survey. For confidentiality, both can even be provided by an external organization to assure your employees that they can truly speak up. Then share the feedback with others during regular meetings – perhaps monthly or quarterly – and clearly outline what you plan to do to address employee concerns and by when you will do it. If there is a reason why a particular concern can’t be addressed, share that too. But be specific and say what will or won’t be done and by when. If you don’t act on it, you will likely never get input again.
  • Take advantage of ongoing performance management opportunities to address any issues they are having with their job or your company. Make performance management and feedback an ongoing task, as opposed to only touching base during the annual performance reviews that employees hate. This allows you to quickly identify and eliminate any issues that you or your employee are having before they become bigger problems.

4) Be there for them

An engaged culture includes one with an open door policy. Let your employees know that you are accessible, no matter what their role in your organization. Your human capital is the most important – and usually most costly - asset you have. Treat them as such. If an employee feels like they are not worth your time, you will quickly become not worth their time as well.

5) Show you care

Your employees are people first, employees second. What this means is that, even though you know them primarily as colleagues whom you see every day at work, they don’t solely exist between the hours of 8 to 5. Honor and respect your employees as parents, spouses, children, siblings, friends, volunteers and everything else they are outside of the office.

Let them know that you are there as a resource to help them achieve their individual career ambitions. But also understand that sometimes higher aspirations or bigger priorities may take them away from you and your business. Part of a healthy relationship is understanding when the other person needs to focus on something outside of your company. This is why personal time off (PTO) is such a coveted employee offering.

Formal ways employers show they care include:

  • Providing an employee compensation package that includes employee benefits.
  • Allowing flex hours or the ability to work remotely so employees can take care of personal obligations as needed.
  • Offering professional development opportunities that give employees the chance to grow in their career.

While these methods of caring for employees are vital to scalable growth, it is also important to remember some basic practices that go a long way in all relationships. These include greeting employees warmly, praising them for a job well done – publicly so if appropriate, celebrating their milestones ( such as promotions or service anniversaries) and allowing them the freedom to challenge themselves in their job.

Last, but certainly not least, is the good old-fashioned “thank you.” Make it a point to genuinely thank your employees for their work at the end of every conversation you have with them. It’s amazing how a little appreciation can go a long way.

Genuinely caring about your employees as human beings will make them even better contributors to your company and give them a reason to stick around when the allure of another company starts to tempt them.

This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.

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