Happy employee = higher productivity = lower turnover = higher profits. Seems simple enough. But companies still find it hard to retain their workforce and increase productivity levels?
In October 2017, the careers section of a major UAE newspaper quietly released the results of research done on the country’s workforce. The results were anything but positive. It stated that staff turnover in the country was higher than the global average, with 56% looking to switch in the next 12 months if benefits didn’t add up. The report further highlighted that 47% of employees are ‘likely’ to stay put at an employer if they see some improvement in their benefits package, while 71% said if they received higher salaries.
This is not a phenomenon exclusive to the UAE. World over, companies are struggling to retain good employees and strike the right balance between salary package and employee benefits.
Employees leave for various reasons, including family circumstances, immigration, higher positions, pay increases or more attractive companies. And, when employees move on, businesses are left with a void that needs to be filled starting with a seemingly endless flow of applications. Employee turnover is no-doubt a universal problem that can be a very expensive affair for companies in terms of visa, housing, and equipment. Combine that with the incumbent costs of training and placement of each new employee and you have a grim scenario at hand.
But what is it that makes employees ask for more salary and benefits? Why do they feel so disgruntled and demotivated? Is it all about the money?
Before we jump into a roaring debate about market condition versus company revenue versus salary increment, let’s take a deeper look at the situation. Peel away the monetary aspect and the blatant claims for ‘more’, and you will see what an employee is actually looking for is a sense of security.
The brutal truth is that while building a successful organisation with the best products, best customer service and reception shelves lined with innumerous business awards, most companies forget that employees are people too. More than building a relationship with customers, they must first build one with their employees.
Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines said, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
The challenge lies in building a strong and efficient workforce that works well together and can take the business forward. Progressive organisations across the nation have audited and adopted innovative methods that bridge the gap between employee satisfaction and employee retention.
Observe the physical work environment. From the ergonomic arrangement of work desks to innovative pantry facilities, break areas, work equipment, and even availability of parking spaces! By making minimal, low-cost adjustments to the work environment, employers can show that they care for the peace-of-mind of the employee.
The cost of creating a break room with a small basketball hoop, coffee machine or soothing music in the overhead speakers couldn’t possibly be compared to the cost of hiring new recruits. Updating and replacing old computers and machines also removes the frustration of an employee who wants to effectively and efficiently complete their work.
There is more to an employment package than just the salary. Work-life benefits allow companies meaningful ways of responding to their employees’ needs. They can be a powerful tool for transforming a workforce and driving business success.
When an employee is given a benefits package that makes them and their family feel protected, they become stress-free about their personal lives and start paying more attention to their work, which in turn benefits none other than the organisation.
Moreover, a tiered system where insurance coverage increases with each promotion helps keep employees motivated.
Treat employees like partners, and they act like partners. Share as much information with employees as possible. Ensure employees understand what the brand stands for so they can become the first line of word-of-mouth advertising. Conduct comprehensive inductions for new employees and have regular update meetings with all employees, thus encouraging participation and team building.
Remember, an employer that offers a transparent, inspiring and educational perspective of an organisation, will win the loyalty of employees who feel like they are an important part of the workflow.
Probably the easiest but the least focused aspect of an organisation is employee motivation and team building activities. It is just not enough to send email greetings on Christmas or bring everybody together for a yearly Iftar. Employee motivation should be engaging, educational and memorable.
Think group health drives, think team building games, think quiz shows and other such friendly competitions. The options are endless once employers stop thinking of quick-fix solutions but actually bring together a task force that will always find new and innovative ways to spread positivity amongst employees.
It is important to mention at this juncture that any activity that the organisation conducts must see the participation of the upper and mid-management employees who are in a vantage point to lead by example.
The growth of an employee within an organisation can be marked with several factors. This includes raise in salary, expansion of benefits as well as training and development. A good organisation knows that the progress of its employees should be all-encompassing; where an environment of continued growth is created by adapting and adopting best practices from around the world.
Employers can invest in further education and training of the employee, not only helping to expand their knowledge but in turn, ensure that their performance at work gets better. While larger organisations are known to send employees to get higher degrees in universities, smaller organisations can invest in sending their employees for seminars and short courses. What’s more, with a little bit of R&D, the employer and heads of divisions could themselves identify subjects and lead a monthly learning session with employees.
By planning effectively and operating a constructive program that pays attention to the feedback of employees, organisations can better manage turnover numbers, reduce costs, and even become a more productive operation.
Bill Gates has famously reminded the world, “The competition to hire the best will increase in the years ahead. Companies that give extra flexibility to their employees will have the edge in this area”.
A bird’s eye perspective of the inner workings of an organisation could really do well for employers, who will see that investing in the human infrastructure could truly set the foundation for taking the business to new heights.