by Diana Southall | Jan 3, 2014 | rewards
The beginning of a new year and also that time of year when employee thoughts turn to… (well on the East Coast everyone is thinking wistfully of spring) “When am I going to get a pay increase?”
Thanks to 50 years of prosperity and a small dose of influence from union contracts, the American worker has been conditioned into thinking (expecting) that they will get a regularly schedule raise in pay in January. The legacy of 20 years of consistent pay practices lives on.
I don’t need to rehash the economic news of the last 6 years, but pay increases since 2008 have been well below the former 3% standard set by the prosperous years, and wage freezes and 18-24 spans between increases are fairly common.
If you are smaller employer or one who has limited profits to continually raise your payroll budget 3% every year, how will you possibly attract great people and retain your top performers?
The good news is that you actually have 12 non-financial ways to reward your employees. Here is a list with some possible solutions.
1. Voluntary (employee paid) benefits—many employers now offer the option for employees to purchase additional benefits at their own cost. The employee typically receives a lower cost for the coverage and it may have tax advantages.
Solution- insurance plans- dental insurance, long term disability or life insurance
2. Work itself– the number one factor in job satisfaction is a sense of achievement. Ask employees how you can improve their work with more variety, sense of purpose or meaning, and challenging assignments
Solution- give your high potential employee a project to manage
3. Autonomy— show of hands- who likes to be micromanaged? Anyone? If you train someone and give appropriate guidelines you can trust the work will be done as needed.
Solution: consider the last 5 questions that someone “ran by you” – is there nugget of wisdom you can share so that you do not have to be consulted or are you just being the chief problem solver?
4. Work load— are you overloading your best performer because she will always take on more and get it done? Does this sound like a recipe for burnout?
Solution: ask your busiest person what you can take off their plate, and then create a plan to do this immediately
5. Resources one of the top reasons people leave their job is because they do not have the tools to do the job properly
Solution: have a meeting to list out hassles and pick the biggest time waster to that inexpensive resources or tools will improve
6. Reliable coworkers– If you have ever worked with someone is who not pulling their weight, then you know how this can make you hopping mad. People have one of three responses: work harder and put up with the slacker, work less so that you don’t feel taken advantage of, or look for another job. If you allow lower contributions you are actually driving out the good performers. And then you are left with the lowest ones.
Solution: If you know who is your weakest link do not wait to have a crucial conversation (see feedback below). Sometimes you have a sense someone is not doing their best but others cover for that person so you don’t know the full extent of the gap. Also allow confidential opportunities to get this feedback from your team.
7. Performance discussions- Yes everyone hates the “performance review,” but on the flip side employees want the opportunity to talk about their role, aspirations and to be appreciated for all their hard work.
Solution: change up your process- stop focusing so much on putting a numerical rating on last year, and more about how the last year provided insights for how to reach goals for this year. I when I say goals I mean how the employee can reach his/her goals within the job.
8. Feedback- Employees expect you to tell them right away if they are not meeting expectations. And they should expect that you deliver this feedback in a positive and constructive manner.
Solution: If you are not comfortable delivering constructive feedback then I suggest reading a few books (101 Tough Conversations is a good start) and then starting small. Trust me, your other employees will thank you for finally have those crucial conversations.
9. Recognition- Timely and targeted public praise is only the cheapest and most powerful reward tool a manager has. If you don’t know what to recognize then you need to sit down and make a list of what behaviors will reach your organization’s goals this year.
Solution: Be on the lookout for a person that did something terrific that is on your list of things to recognize, and publicly praise in your weekly team meeting (you have one, right?)
10. Training and development– Most people want to feel that we are “good” at our job and will be frustrated or demoralized if something is too difficult. A lack of challenging work is also a main reason people look for another job, so you may want to continually upgrade the knowledge and skills so that people don’t get bored. It’s a win-win- employees feel valued and broaden their knowledge and capability, and now you have an employee who can contribute and perform more.
Solution: employees may not be open about their so you want to ask find out what training would dramatically improve performance or if they want a new challenge.
11. Opportunity for Advancement– Surveys show that about half of employees feel there is not a chance for promotion at their employer. For the generation Y who will comprise almost half the workers in the US, a clear career path and opportunities to advance is the top reason for job engagement.
Solutions: If you want people to be loyal, committed and willing to go above and beyond (aka engaged), identify and share the “next” job (not necessarily in management), the change in duties and responsibility, and a training plan to develop into that role.
12. A great boss (I mean coach)- as the saying goes, people leave supervisors, not companies. If you feel unappreciated, criticized, or just plain frustrated by your direct manager you will consider looking for a new one. Coaches are clear about the goals, deliver feedback and train in a positive supportive and appreciative way, and focus on improvement.
Solution: There are so many books and training on how to be a coach and not a boss, but it might help to ask some of the employees you trust where you should work first. We all have blind spots and perhaps a few key changes will dramatically change how you are perceived and the impact you make.
Want to learn more about how to use Total Rewards to attract, engage and retain your best teammates?
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
by thepeopleplan | Sep 30, 2013 | Uncategorized
As a small business manager, you might think that large employers have it “easier” to keep great employees. After all, the big guys can pay more, provide more job security and career advancement, and off better benefits.
Actually, I often see that despite the resources at large companies, the direct managers are not using those resources wisely and have the same issues with retaining their best and brightest.
Here is a list of what they might do, and you can too, to build your fabulous team.
What can your small organization offer that will help you keep your talented employees?
- Challenging work— many employers hire a new employee, train them, and then leave them doing a job that becomes routine and frankly, boring. Check in with employees regularly to find out what new assignments you can give to keep them challenged.
- Less hassles— a primary reason employees look for another job is a lack of resources to do the job and unreliable co-workers. Encourage your team members to identify hassles and road blocks and then work to eliminate as many as possible.
- Work and results tied to something meaningful—the term “second paycheck” was coined to indicate that meaningful work is also rewarding. I have a client that makes concrete products and their employees take pride in the fact that they are part of American manufacturing and their products are used to keep roads and bridges safer.
- Involvement in company decisions— employees want to be part of something bigger and feel good about their employer and its direction. Get input on major strategic goals and keep communicating about the why and where your organization is going.
- Everyone gets development opportunities— if an employee feels that she has a “dead end job” you definitely won’t get above and beyond work. We recommend that everyone has an annual development plan to work on 3-4 key training goals, such as improving a competency, technical skill or contributing to a major project.
As you can see from this list, the direct manager plays an important role in understanding each employee’s talents and needs, communicating how everyone contributes to the organization’s goals, and involving each person finding how they can match up their interests and goals with what the employer needs.
It’s hard to get your team on board and on the same page if you are hiding in your office— so get out there and talk more with your team.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
by thepeopleplan | Jul 17, 2013 | culture, performance
Our prior article What Drives Engagement? listed the top 10 engagement drivers.
Two areas impact employee perceptions of what the organization values (category 2):
#1. “(My boss) sets high personal standards”
- Share what excellence and success looks like in their job (do you have any key performance indicators to discuss/ share/ track?)
- Hold everyone accountable to do their job to expectations (including yourself- walk the walk)
#2. “Organization encourages innovative thinking”
- Listen to new ideas and process suggestions, thoughtfully consider and discuss the viability of the idea
Three steps you can take NOW to improve employee perceptions of work standards and innovation:
- Regularly discuss work load and priorities, find out if team members have the tools and information to complete their tasks, and invite updates to re-direct if things aren’t on track
- Manage by results, not micromanage the process—this allows your team member to come up with a different (and often better) way to achieve the same outcome, then occasionally have staff share their methods with others doing the same task
- Ask your team- “What is one thing that could be improved for better customer service or to reduce a big hassle?” Then outline an action plan, assign tasks with deadlines, and revisit at your weekly meeting to implement this innovative improvement
Two articles for more reading:
It’s a fine line between setting high standards and being demanding. Read what NOT to do on Forbes: 10 tips on for dealing with an overly demanding boss
For tips on getting more practice at innovative thinking and turning into a habit, read “Innovation Is Everyone’s Job” on Harvard Business Review
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
by thepeopleplan | Jul 10, 2012 | Uncategorized
I have yet to meet a supervisor, manager, executive or business owner who tells me that their organization has it “easy “in the current economic climate.
What I do hear is that they have to:
- Adapt to a changing competitive environment
- Do more with less
- Consider how to keep profits with rising costs and lowering prices
- Respond faster to customer requests and orders
All of these business requirements trickle down to employees.
Surveys show that employees feel they are:
- expected to do the impossible
- overwhelmed with too much work
- 40% are stressed to the point of feeling “burned out”
- 64% are physically exhausted when they get home from work
This is not a recipe for creative products or world-class customer service.
If employees do not have the resources to do their jobs (time, information, approval, authority, the rest of the organization delivering on promises) they will become frustrated, lose engagement and then individual and company performance will decline.
A key element to improving your working conditions and employee work load is to collect employee suggestions and issues and then systematically address with process improvement.
Read more in Verne Harnish/ Gazelle article Dehassling your company
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
by thepeopleplan | Jul 7, 2012 | Uncategorized
A leader is best when
- people barely know that she exists,
- not so good when people obey and acclaim him,
- worst when they despise her
- But of a good leader, who talks little, When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, They will all say, ‘We did this ourselves.’
Most employees want to be involved in decisions that affect their work.
Every manager has her own style in how much they involve employees to make decisions that are important to their performance and to the quality of their working lives. Some choose to “command and control” and some are more lenient —see continuum of leadership chart below. Studies show that employees have higher engagement under a manager that is more participative and democratic (toward the right side of the chart).
Employees do not expect that they will make the final decision in all cases, but if it affects their work they want to at least be given an opportunity to discuss and suggest.
Read abstract of Tannenbaum & Schmidt article on this leadership continuum
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net