The days of offering staff steady employment and a regular pay cheque ¬– and for this to be enough to keep them satisfied – are long gone. People (especially millennials) want more than a pay cheque and culture is king.
They want to feel proud telling others where they work and to know their values and moral compass align with their employer’s. They want to feel their talents and efforts are appreciated and to know their development will be prioritised.
Think this sounds like arrogance and entitlement? It might if using a short-sighted and outdated lens. But to gain an unfair share of the finite talent pool, I’d suggest a more contemporary view should be used. Let me explain why.
You want the best people to run your business, right? Well, let’s pose the hard questions and offer some reflection to each. Why should the best people want to work with, and for, you?
The true answers can be found by parking one’s ego and honestly appraising culture and leadership style.
Have you set the course to success as a team?
Crafting the strategic plan with the team and getting buy-in will ensure the path to success is well understood across the organisation. Staff don’t just want to be ‘told’ of the business’s goals, or worse kept in the dark completely. They’re more likely to feel engaged if they can share an understanding of the purpose and strategy behind the business — so if you’re not already reinforcing those messages, it’s probably time to step it up.
Are you a great communicator?
No-one believes that an autocratic leader creates a happy and prosperous organisation (or country for that matter). You’ll get the best out of your staff if you set an agreed clear path and lead with empathy, care, positive reinforcement and the capacity to listen. Be a powerful storyteller who connects with, engages and inspires people to align with the organisation’s vision and goals and to actively play their role.
Are you creating an environment where people feel like they belong?
Leaders need to foster an environment of belonging, where people feel safe to learn, collaborate and challenge. Knowing that you are valued, that it is safe to challenge the status quo, to express ideas and be vulnerable in front of each other, to learn from mistakes and look for opportunities to innovate. Staff want to be part of a team that has each other’s backs, where you can be yourself without fear of judgement and where diversity is embraced. It’s up to leaders to demonstrate this type of behaviour and to cultivate this type of environment.
Are you sharing the critical data?
If you’re sharing financial data with staff as a motivational tool, have you also considered sharing other influential data, such as customer satisfaction and loyalty, market share growth, customer traffic and conversion? Sharing deeper insights with staff will strengthen their understanding of the measures in place that contribute to the organisation’s strategy and success. Speaking of measures, have a think about what you are doing to measure employee satisfaction, and share the results. After all, you can’t have customer engagement without first having staff engagement, and what gets measured gets improved.
Is your business truly a ‘learning organisation’?
Does your organisation allow pause for thoughtful review of its processes? Does it compare itself against other organisations or departments for benchmarking? A true learning organisation does more than provide opportunities for staff to grow their knowledge and skills. It encourages idea development, knowledge sharing, learning from mistakes, fostering open discussion and holistic thinking. Transforming your business into a learning organisation attracts many benefits, principally that of becoming a preferred employer in the industry.
Is your business actioning (fairly) poor performance?
If ordinary performers (or people with poor values and attitudes) are allowed to stay, then the best people will leave. Move the poor performers on – it’s in everyone’s interests. The best want to work with the best and they have expectations that others will be held to account for their performance and behaviour.
Afraid of spending money on developing staff only to see them leave?
Well, what if you don’t train them and they stay? Training needs to be viewed as an asset, not an expense. Expenditure solely on external training ensures the investment and IP disappears out the door with the employee. Fortune’s yearly survey of ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ highlighted that internally owned and curated professional training opportunities are consistently one of the top factors people consider when choosing a company. People who are supported to master their craft will deliver greater levels of engagement, performance and innovation.
Is your business giving back and doing good?
Are there opportunities in the workplace for staff to pursue corporate social responsibility projects that align with their (and the company’s) values? What causes does the business support, or better, partner with? Staff love the opportunity to give back and will feel enormous pride in an employer who is genuinely committed to doing good for others.
Does your business reward and celebrate successes, even small ones, as a team?
All members of staff should have the opportunity to be recognised by their peers. It can be demotivating if the high achievers continually receive the big bonuses and the wider teams are left with nothing. Share the love and share the bonuses.
Your staff are your greatest asset and an ‘unfair share’ of the best is a competitive advantage. They are critical to your business succeeding, so it’s in your best interest to give them a compelling reason to work (and keep working) for you. The best people have to work somewhere, so continue to ask yourself – why not for you?