One challenge many business leaders are sharing with me is a frustration with finding and keeping high performing employees. Some companies are struggling with retention, others with finding qualified candidates, and still others are dealing with a lack of productivity or innovation. No matter what the issues is, business leaders are always looking ways to help their employees improve. Today I am going to talk about how to help you attract, retain, develop your employees to give you a competitive edge.
Finding and Keeping the Best Employees
Business leaders spend countless hours developing and executing strategies. Much of that strategy is centered around two things, developing new business and executing on existing business.
In a recent client meeting I asked the management team some simple questions about who their customers were. They nailed it! They knew exactly who their customers were, what they wanted and how they provide that. Companies often come up with an “avatar” or ideal client so they can market to them. But how many people do the same thing for the employees they want to attract? Here are some basic questions you should be asking about your current employees as well as those you hire in the future.
Who are your employees?
Just like companies identify who their target market is for their customers, business leaders should have a target market for their employees. If you look through any job search site, most (not all) employers describe who they are looking for by a set of skills and experience. Skills and experience don’t mean that someone will be effective in your company.
Look at your current employees. List some of the characteristics of your top performers. Those that have been there a while, what do they all have in common? You might even want to do the same exercise with those that haven’t worked out. What went wrong there?
What do they need?
This is something that is often overlooked or minimized. I mean they need a paycheck, right? I’ll tell you with 100% certainty, if that is the only need you are filling, you will have a hard time keeping employees. No matter how big that paycheck is, there is always someone willing to write a bigger check.
Everyone has different needs, and each generation has different needs as well. Baby boomers needed job security. Millennials need flexible work arrangements. Employees at non-profits and charity organizations feel the need to serve (and usually don’t get paid well). When I work with companies I typically use an assessment to determine the employee needs, and how well those needs are being filled. This is almost always eye-opening for leadership!
How is the need satisfied?
Knowing is half the battle, so understanding the need is only the beginning of the solution. How do you fill that need? Learning opportunities is one of the common motivators, and motivational gaps, I find in my assessment. Employees are interested in professional development and expect the company to support that in some way.
It won’t be uncommon for business leaders to provide a laundry list of things they offer with respect to learning opportunities. What they often don’t realize is their employees find the process to take advantage might be too cumbersome (needs too much approval), or they don’t feel like they are able to balance learning with their current workload. After you determine what need you serve for your employee, do you have a way to satisfy that need, that the employees are taking advantage of?
When do you satisfy the need?
Flexible work hours are becoming common place in todays workforce. From flexible hours to work from home options. But not all businesses can accommodate these types of arrangements. And even those businesses that can, it isn’t feasible to do it all the time. If you are a tax accountant, chances are you will have very little flexibility during “tax season”.
Every business cycle is different, and every need is different. As a leader you must determine the best way to satisfy employee needs without compromising business needs. What is ultra-important here, is to effectively communicate expectations, and when you will be able to satisfy certain needs.
Who provides that need?
Once you learn who your employees are, what their needs are, how and when it will be provided, someone must be responsible for providing it. Who will fill those needs? Often it is a combination of leadership, employees, and maybe HR. So, as a complete picture it is important to decide who is responsible for providing what.
For example: the need is career advancement. HR would be responsible for determining pay and promotion criteria. Leadership would be responsible for giving guidance and assignments to meet those criteria, and the employee is responsible for execute.
This Week’s Challenge
Take action to decide who your employees are and what they need. You will soon find that you will have higher productivity and retention (yes even with millennials)! If you need help, or would like to learn more about our assessments, please reach out to me. I’ll be happy to help!