5 Things You Can Do To Improve Staff Motivation and Retention

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Five simple strategies on motivating and retaining good staff

Employers often go to considerable lengths and expense to recruit great people. However, when questioned about their people motivation and retention strategies these same employers often have little to say. Given the importance of staff motivation and retention to key business performance indicators such as customer service, quality control, productivity levels and corporate memory it is important that you, as a manager of people, have a well constructed and effective people motivation and retention strategy in place.

Notice that I’m using the words motivation and retention in the same sentence. It is important to understand that the two are, in fact, inseparable when it comes to retaining good staff. Why? Simply because if you keep your staff motivated and interested in their work you significantly increase your chances of keeping them. In short, motivated staff tend to enjoy their work and therefore do not want to leave as much as unmotivated staff.

Also, you may be in a position where you don’t have staff retention problems, but your staff are not as motivated or keen as you would like. The most effective businesses not only retain good staff but the staff they have are highly motivated to do a good job.

What is more, staff motivation relies very little on money including bonuses and pay for performance schemes. As long you’re paying your people an amount that is comparable to market rates money should not enter the equation.

Importantly, there are two pieces of very good news. The first is that implementing such a motivation and retention strategy is not difficult. You don’t need a degree in psychology or organisational development to implement a simple but effective strategy. Much of it relies on good old common sense and universal principles governing human relations.

The second piece of good news is that a staff motivation and retention strategy does not have to cost you big dollars. In fact, it will save you significant amounts.

What follows is a user friendly, 5 point plan to achieve higher levels of staff motivation and retention. The more of these points you can implement the better off you will be.

Point 1 Keep simple statistics on how many people leave, when they leave and why

Keep simple statistics on your staff turnover and the reason people are leaving. This information will eventually prove a great source of information allowing you to better target your actions. Graphs are great because they’re easy to follow. You should be keeping statistics on the following:

• Your annual turnover of staff

• If you employ over 100 people you may also want to keep a monthly record of turnover. Monthly staff turnover graphs can quickly reveal patterns in seasonal turnover. If, for example, you notice a rise in turnover during certain months of the year you may be able to take preventative action for the next time.

• Why people leave. Design a simple Exit Interview and insist that all staff who leave fill it out just before they leave. Whilst not foolproof, exit interviews give you a much better insight of why people are leaving. It is important that the exit interview is designed and implemented properly, otherwise you may get misleading information (see The Recruitment Alternative’s article on what a good exit interview looks like, you’ll find it in the HR Information for Employers page).

• Keep statistics on the most common reasons people are leaving your company.

Point 2 Ensure that your managers including yourself receive training on how to manage staff

• A common mistake many companies make is promoting good staff to a management position without giving them the required training. As you probably know, managing staff can be a very challenging duty. It takes some people years to do it properly. To thrust a person into a management position without the proper training is asking for trouble.

Point 3 Set up staff feedback surveys. Give staff the opportunity to safely (anonymously) let you know what they think about matters that are important to them.

• Do these surveys every six months and make sure you follow up. Let staff know that you’ve read their issues and what you’re going to do about them. The worst thing you can do is keep silent about the results. It is important that staff feel safe about providing honest feedback. If they can be identified chances are that they will only tell you what they think you want to hear.

Point 4 Always implement the Golden Rule: Treat staff with the utmost dignity and respect

• Dignity and respect means things like:

o Praising staff when they deserve it
o Always be open and honest with them
o Never raise our voice to staff
o Never embarrass or humiliate staff
o At all cost avoid creating the impression that you have favourites because the non-favoured will feel excluded and like second class citizens
o Always do what you say you will do
o Be prepared to admit your mistakes

•Even if your staff make mistakes, that’s no excuse to talk down to them or belittle them. If you think about it, there’s a good chance that you’re partly responsible for their mistakes.

Point 5 Try as much as possible to give your staff work that is interesting

•Repetitive work with little variety should be avoided as much as possible. Sometimes it is difficult to avoid such work, however, try to spread it amongst staff so no one is stuck with all of it. Work that brings out the best in people includes the following characteristics:

o Variety
o Autonomy
o Task Significance – which means people feel that what they do is important
o Feedback – people want feedback on their work, either by way of a manager giving them feedback or by being able to start and finish a job and being able to take pride in their work. In the latter case the completion of a good job is the feedback.

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