Employee commitment and connection to a company are not easily achieved. “Only one-third of U.S. employees are engaged in their work and workplace. And only about one in five say their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work,” according to Gallup’s recent State of the American Workplace Report.
The cost of not driving employee engagement is high. The Society for Human Resource Management says employers will need to spend the equivalent of six to nine months of an employee’s salary to find and train their replacement. Furthermore, labor turnover and shortages have impacted the fenestration industry leading to supply chain delays and increased material costs.
As many workers seek to re-enter the job market, window and door manufacturers, distributors and dealers will need to institute employee nurturing tactics to retain and rebuild their teams, not to mention compete with other industries for potential hires.
In my experience as a leader in an organization that includes 300 call center employees, I’ve learned strategies to engage and bolster employees and manage unwanted turnover.
1. Provide coaching and feedback
Most importantly, we do our best to hire the right candidate and fit for the company. We then take a long-term view of their potential and coach them for their growth. Employees who feel they’re progressing in their careers are 20 percent more likely to work at their companies in one year’s time, according to a TinyPulse Employee Retention Report.
Regularly, our managers meet with each of their direct reports and give constructive feedback. Providing consistent feedback is much more effective and less stressful than feedback in an annual, formal review setting.
Managers also spend a portion of the meeting acknowledging extra efforts the employee has taken for the company’s success. For example, one time, right before I left on vacation and was overwhelmed with tasks to finish, my boss asked me to complete a quick project she needed. While it added to my stress, I stayed later than I had planned and completed the project that night. After I left for my vacation, my boss sent me a note, thanking me for spending the necessary time at the last minute to meet her deadline. This might have seemed like a small gesture to my boss, but this recognition meant a lot to me.
2. Foster authenticity
If employees and employers are not forthright with each other, nobody gets what they want out of the job. Specific concrete feedback of what the employee does well and can improve will help cultivate an authentic mentor/mentee relationship. Genuine interest in their development and career will show employees you’re on their side.
3. Encourage aspirations
Ask employees what they wish to accomplish personally and professionally and how they see themselves in the future. Encourage their ambitions and find ways to help them achieve their goals. Be sure to follow up—not just talking about goals, but working toward them.
4. Hold employees accountable
Show up on time and be reliable are two fundamental standards I expect our employees to align with because these basics lead to our success, and their success. In my role managing operations for EnerBank, I have seen that those who meet these expectations are likely to be satisfied and productive employees.
5. Create healthy working relationships
It takes time to break in a healthy working relationship as employees get comfortable in their positions and leaders get comfortable managing them. Allow for differing opinions and respectful disagreement. Everyone is different and brings something unique to the workplace. The best outcomes usually come from debate and compromise.
So, how do you manage a situation that isn’t working out?
You may feel like you’re following all the steps for successful coaching, but the employee continues to struggle. Here are a few things I consider when facing this challenge:
- When an employee makes a mistake, providing timely feedback is most impactful. Base it on something measurable like attendance, timeliness or project delivery. A bad performance review should never be a surprise—to you or your employee—because you’ve been communicating regularly.
- Recognize and focus on your employees’ greatest strengths but don’t blame them for their weaknesses. To help with an appraisal of these strengths and weaknesses, we perform an assessment during the hiring process. We also rate the various job functions at our company based on needed strengths and weaknesses that would prevent the employee from being successful and what type of communication styles we need for the job to function properly.
- Could the employee be in the wrong position? Is there a way to restructure the position to help the employee succeed?
A few years ago, a department was struggling to maintain its service levels. We brainstormed solutions with our management team and started implementing changes. No matter what changes we made, nothing fixed the problem. Eventually, one of my managers determined that we expected the employees to complete two different jobs requiring two different skillsets.
One part of the job was interfacing with the customer to help resolve their concerns. The other part of the job was more technical, requiring employees to conduct research and maintenance on accounts. Most employees were good at one part of the job, but not the other. To fix the issue, we decided to split the functions. Those who were good at interfacing with customers were on the phones and handled responses. Those with more technical skills conducted the research. This solution took more time and cost more money to implement, but we eventually saw a significant increase in production and service levels. Ultimately, it saved us money because it reduced the turnover rate and increased employee engagement.
Investing upfront in coaching and managing employees ultimately boosts employee retention, saving a fortune. The goal is to achieve happier, more engaged employees, resulting in a more successful company culture.