The trillion dollar problem confronting US businesses is voluntary turnover. Turnover is often regarded as a normal cost of doing business, however it is also an elusive threat, costing companies millions per year and significantly impacting their bottom lines. So, how do we keep employees engaged, productive, happy, and less likely to abandon ship?
Our first step is acknowledging that only 33% of American employees are engaged at work; meaning they go the extra mile, feel a connection to their company, and have the drive to push their company forward in new and innovative ways. This is a problem for any company and it indicates that we all have work to do.
Whether we as managers like it or not, humans are innately social creatures. We crave acceptance from our micro-communities because it is programmed into us through evolution. If we rewind to the days before corporate retreats and office outcasts, there was a more dire need for social acceptance: survival.
When we experience a sense that we do not belong to our current social group, we seek out another group who may accept us. In the working world when someone feels like they do not belong in an organization, they actively search for a new one, translating into unproductive work and voluntary turnover.
The good news is that converting a disengaged employee base into engaged talent is not impossible, but it will require action and social interaction. Luckily for you, we have done the research on how to increase employee morale, so here is the scoop!
Social Gatherings: Celebrations & Recognition
Do you remember the excitement you felt at birthday parties or athletic awards banquets as a kid? Taking the opportunity to celebrate employee contributions and recognize team players for their work increases motivation, fulfillment and loyalty. By recognizing and supporting engaged employees, you make them feel accepted and confident in their social position within the group.
2. Virtual Connections
While we are out of the office and stuck in our homes, companies have struggled to find ways to connect with employees. However, this is the time when we should be reaching out and supporting our teams most, since isolation contributes to social withdrawal, depression and anxiety. Here are a few ways to keep employees talking:
Movie or game nights! Load up the lighthearted and distracting fun by hosting a zoom call and send your employees a surprise package filled with snacks they can enjoy together.
Zoom happy hours with guest stars! Send your employees drink kits and hire a local bar tender to create a “company drink” and/or mocktail that they can teach your employees to make over zoom. Enjoy a drink together safely and take a break from the stressors of remote work!
Relieve stress with gardening! Gardening, watching plants grow, and admiring flowers have all been proven to decrease stress and even combat depression. A plant is the gift that keeps giving and will continue boosting your employees moods for months!
Weekly or monthly book clubs are a classic group activity for a reason, they are fun, interactive, and they give many different individuals something in common to talk about. Reading along with gardening, has been found to significantly decrease stress levels.
For more introverted employees, it can be uncomfortable to participate in rambunctious group activities, or even group conversations over zoom where it is difficult to know when/if people are speaking and what it is appropriate to discuss. By creating structured time through organized activities, you can help introverts join the conversation comfortably.
3. Hiring, Transferring, and Firing with Social Fit in Mind
Think of your company as a garden, you can have many flowers (engaged employees) you’ve tended to for years and have grown into strong plants, but just a few bad seeds (disengaged employees) can take over, killing off your flowers by stealing their resources (time, kindness, patience, bonuses). When this happens, it is important to take corrective action immediately by either nurturing them into engaged employees, or by weeding them out through transfers and firings.
Too often, recruiters and hiring teams will place a candidate quickly, without thoroughly examining their social fit within the organization. This leads to mismatched and competing personalities that can make a team unproductive, hostile, and even toxic. This happens in part due to interviews being notoriously unpredictable and poor ways to judge character or ability. By relying purely on the interview process, you are planting bad seeds within your organization. Luckily, there is a new way to hire: project based hiring.
Project based hiring allows a company to test social fit within an organization. It is a process where companies work with candidates to complete a project with specific goals. During the project, the potential employee meets with their future manager multiple times, which enables them to get to know leadership styles, as well as the workplace culture of the organization, while demonstrating their abilities in real time. Companies like Ambitionary manage project based hiring efforts and organize the bureaucratic complexities of short-term hiring, which allows companies and hiring managers to focus on talent instead of paperwork.
As managers it is our responsibility to tend to our company garden and nurture our employees so they can bloom into the happy, motivated and professionally fulfilled individuals they are capable of becoming. If we can create a sense of belonging, we can unleash a powerful force of productive goal oriented employees capable of pushing their company to success!