One of the biggest issues that I have come across quite regularly is the how companies, especially larger companies, have a lack of understanding in the emotional need of their staff.
When people start to look for a new job what are the things they look for? Does the job match their own skill set? What is the salary like, what benefits are included such as pension, healthcare and holiday entitlement. But how many people investigate what sort of emotional salary and considerations a company pays.
Emotional salary can cover a number of things. What support structure is in place to manage stress, sickness and absence? Is that structure supportive or punitive? How accommodating are the company to the fact of day to day home life issues that occur. How to they support the work life balance. Do they allow staff to be themselves and display elements of individuality, or are they expected to conform to an established norm?
The morale of staff should always be one of the highest considerations for any company. Happy staff are productive staff! We all know this, especially in financially difficult times, when tough decisions have to be made. The only way to make these changes successfully is to engage the staff and get them on board to help with the changes that have to happen.
People are naturally resistant to change, but the more unhappy someone is the more resistant they become. A huge change for a business needs all the staff behind it for it to work. Remember that the staff are the business.
Disgruntled staff become consistently resistant to change. They raise their issues and get brushed off by unfeeling management. There was a quote, and forgive me I don’t know the origin of it, that states “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers”; never a truer word said. Staff need to understand the reason why things are happening to them and being told “because this is how we are now doing it”, suddenly morale drops further.
This is the downward spiral. Once faith in management has been lost, it becomes almost impossible to get it back.
The first thing that you can guarantee on is that when the job market improves there will be a mass exodus leaving your severely understaffed. You will have to restart recruitment, training and with no experience staff that will take time and money. Would it not be better to spend some money and time in the difficult times to keep your staff happy and build that loyalty; or is it better to spend significantly more money replacing the staff that have lost faith.
Keep your staff happy, invest in the way they feel, invest in their happiness and freedom of expression and you will end up with a more productive, faithful workforce. Spend the time and money to make them happy and they will repay you by working harder and smarter.
Remember though that this should be a consistent approach, just throwing money at a problem will not make it go away. People talk, and being labelled as an employer that doesn’t care may damage your chances of further recruitment of quality staff. There are very small things that can be done to make the place a happier place to be. Allow casual wear, make your office comfortable with places to go that are away from the workstations. Consider your staff with morale boosting events. Buying doughnuts may be a nice sweet treat, but does that cater for everyone? How about fruit instead. Have it on hand all the time they provide energy, essential vitamins and are a nice treat.
Some companies cater out their team building to outside agencies. There is nothing wrong with this in itself, but who knows your staff better than you? Who knows your team dynamic and where development is needed?
Outside agencies can give you ideas, support and the tools to do it, but team building should be something a company should be doing for itself. Getting someone else to do it for you just builds another barrier between the managers and the staff.
Take responsibility for the emotional wellbeing of staff and they will take care of the overall well being of your company.