It has always been clear to great leaders that an organization’s people are its most important asset. However, as of late, this realization is expanding even to less enlightened leadership teams, as key talent is leaving in droves for greener pastures.
Dubbed “the great resignation”, resignations peaked in April of 2021, and have remained abnormally high, with 10.9 million open jobs in July 2021, per the Harvard Business Review. Resignations for employees between 30 and 45 years old increased more than 20% between 2020 and 2021, and the increase is highest in tech and health care. Unfortunately, it does not appear the end is near: according to Microsoft, over 40% of the global workforce is considering leaving their employer this year.
Why is Talent Leaving?
According to Manila Recruitment, 50% of over 7,000 surveyed employees left their job because of their manager. 82% of workers said that lack of recognition leads them to consider switching employees.
More generally speaking, an employee may look elsewhere for opportunities due to lack of strong relationships in the office, lack of flexibility in the workplace or too heavy of a workload.
In today’s market, if you aren’t focused on retaining your top performers, you will lose them to competition. Remote job postings have made the talent pool global, and the best performers in every industry are now available to organizations worldwide. Thus, if your top employee has an interest in working elsewhere, they’ll likely be able to find a taker.
There are many ways to increase engagement and retention, most of which start with listening to your team. However, in this article, we’ll focus on showing appreciation. As discussed, the majority of employees leave their job because of their manager, rather than because of their job. To be the manager that an employee stays for, you must make it clear to your team that they are appreciated.
Tactic One: Ask How
Ask your employees how they want to be recognized. Remember that each member of your team is an individual with different preferences. Make an effort to show appreciation to each person how they want to receive it.
Tactic Two: Build the Culture
Create a culture of recognition. Provide ample opportunities for your team to provide recognition to each other in team meetings, team chats and over email.
Tactic Three: Put it in Writing
Write a thank you note. Even those individuals who shy away from the spotlight will appreciate receiving a personal thank you note that shows you appreciated their efforts on a particular initiative.
Tactic Four: Throw a Party
Have a team celebration or outing. If your team reaches an important milestone, be sure it doesn’t go unnoticed. Take them out to lunch or bring in pizza – and connect it to the hard work that they did for the organization.
Tactic Five: Make it Public
Celebrate on social media. Your team’s big wins should be made public whenever appropriate – and the team members that made them possibly deserve to be part of the post.
Tactic Six: Engage Leadership
Implement regular Skip Level Meetings – either broadly, or specifically for your highest
performers. Studies show that individuals who have more time with their skip level managers are generally more engaged and likely to feel valued in an organization.
Tactic Seven: Give a Recommendation
If you have an employee who consistently goes above and beyond, let them (and their network) know via their LinkedIn profile. This will not only help them now, but also in their future.
Tactic Eight: Give Regular Feedback
Give feedback regularly during 1:1s. Creating a culture of feedback, both positive and negative, shows your employees that you are engaged in their performance and development. Positive feedback will help them to feel recognized and appreciated, while constructive feedback will help them to develop and learn. Providing a combination of both will help them to recognize that you have their best interests in mind.
Tactic Nine: Incentivize Peer Feedback
In concert with the culture of feedback described in tactic eight, ensure that employees feel comfortable giving recognition and feedback to their peers. Consider a program that encourages employees to publicly recognize one peer who has gone above and beyond in your next company-wide meeting. At the following meeting, that employee is tasked with recognizing someone else. (Bonus tip: Adding an incentive for those recognized can help!)
Tactic Ten: Compensate Appropriately
Ensure financial benefits are provided when possible and appropriate. Obviously, you can’t give every employee a raise each time they perform well. However, it is important that you notice your top performers, and find room in the budget for monetary recognition when it truly is warranted.
Of course, the possibilities for recognizing a team are as unique and limitless as the number of individuals that make up each team. Consider your team specifically: what motivates them? What do they do best? How can you really make it clear to them that you care?
At the end of the day, forming a genuine connection with each member of your team is the primary goal. If you can do this successfully, you’re one step ahead of the competition.