Great workplaces offer environments that consistently attract, retain, — and most importantly — inspire and engage the best and brightest.
Some large Silicon Valley type employers have created workplaces they feel are great workplaces based on unique architecture and quirky perks. They may provide on-site massages, Segways for building-to-building transportation, and other non-traditional perks that are non-traditional to office spaces and workplaces. Still others rely on liberal benefits packages to retain workers and become known as great workplaces.
While these attributes can be part of great workplaces, they are not what really creates a cohesive and agile organization that will retain the best, most innovative employees; a workplace that will engage employees and have the flexibility of adapting to meet fast changing business climates. All CEOs know they must pay a competitive wage and provide good benefits to retain employees, but there are several other keys to employee retention of top team members.
Some keys to creating a workplace, more important than quirky perks and unique architecture, where employees look forward to working include:
Trust Between Companies and Employees: Employees want to be able to trust the leaders of the company for which they work. Workers will not tolerate being lied to or having a “spin” put on the facts. Too often employers are tempted to avoid sharing negative news or to spin the negative to make it sound more positive. This practice breaks down trust and tends to make employees open to offers made by other companies seeking their skills and knowledge. The truth, whether positive or negative, builds a sense of trust between employee and employer that is required for employee retention.
Pride in Organization: Anyone who spends many hours each week laboring for a business wants to have a sense of pride in the organization that writes their paychecks. They want to work for companies that have strong ethics and morals, that stand behind their company mission and vision, and produce products or services that create a sense of importance to the well-being of the marketplace or the world. Truly caring for the employee as a person as well as caring for the environment and acting responsibly in all business tasks are keys to creating pride in organization.
Pride in Task Assignment: Employees that are fulfilled and easy to retain have a sense of pride in the work they do on a daily basis. They want to understand how their role fits into the company as a whole and know that their tasks are important to achieving goals and earning profits, especially when those profits reflect in their own profit sharing programs or bonuses. In some positions, the importance of task assignment may be obvious to the employees, but in cases where a group of workers create a small part of a bigger whole, they should be educated as to where their part fits in and why the company can only succeed with their important tasks being completed correctly and effectively. Manufacturing companies need to place special focus on this area since many workers may be building “widgets” and asking themselves why they even come to work if this is their only task; if they know why the larger product can’t perform without their “widget” they can become proud of their tasks. And in all cases, the employees need to feel proud of the end product being produced to feel a sense of moral authority.
Remove Nonsense Rules and Reports: Every company must have some rules and regulations and required reports. Some meetings may have to be mandatory for the company to operate smoothly. But rules that do not make any sense or reports that create paper that nobody ever reads or uses make workers frustrated and resentful. Avoid creating unnecessary rules and streamline reporting. Allow workers flexibility within reason and it will reflect in increased retention of quality workers.
Work is Not a Place: It is an activity. Create an agile workplace that will allow as much flexibility on where and when employees work as possible. In today’s workplace it is not about where or when you work, but about productivity.
Define Clear Expectations and Measurements for Success: Treat employees like adults by allowing them to perform their work in their own style, but provide them with clear definitions of what success looks like or produces. Being recognized as successful should be based on performance, not personality, likeability, or other arbitrary factors.
Open Two-Way Communication: Too often most in-company communication consists of management speaking and employees listening. Yes, there are times where this is necessary and appropriate, but a time and method of allowing employees to communicate ideas, suggestions, and even feedback on management’s performance is important to building the company loyalty required for high retention of quality employees.
Provide Career-Long Growth Opportunities: Employees want to learn and develop. They want to grow and keep up with the latest technology and they want to prepare for higher level jobs within the company to prepare for future goals. Company-provided training can be important for achieving this component of being a great company to work for, but providing assistance for continuing job-associated formal university degree-focused or job-focused education also is very meaningful to employees. This doesn’t mean the company should help pay for Basket Weaving 101, but if the desired courses will help develop skills pertaining to current or potential future positions within the company, consider at least subsidizing some percentage educational expenses, or if possible fully funding the effort as long as an established level of acceptable grades are earned.
Accountability — Top to Bottom: Employees are held accountable for their task completion and job performance. This concept of accountability must extend to every level of the company to create a truly great workplace. Employees find it easier to trust employers that clearly hold every employee, all the way up to CEO, accountable for their ethics and performance.
A Great Workplace: Create a comfortable and flexible workspace but don’t expect that to be enough to keep the best workers over long periods of time. But, if a company applies some or all of these keys while treating employees with respect and regard and paying competitive salaries, they can build a workforce of top notch employees. If a company remains consistent in upholding these values as they have applied them to their organization, their quality workforce members are unlikely to be tempted to jump ship when a lateral or better offer from a competitor is presented.