Today’s generation of professionals in the workforce has a much more mindful approach to the work-life balance. It’s no longer about simply working to make money, but about working at a job that you love and that loves you back. They want a career that can help them meet their financial and personal goals, which means working for a company that pays well and shows its appreciation for its employees with superior benefits packages and respect for their personal needs and time off.
The pandemic furthered this movement towards a focus on balanced and respectful workplaces, creating what is now being called the “great reset” or the “great resignation.” If employees don’t feel that they are being appreciated and their needs aren’t being respected, they are quick to jump ship and find another employer who will. This has left many companies concerned as they face shortages and uncertainty within their labor forces.
Employees are burnt out and fed up, yes, but they do still need jobs. So companies that are willing to shift their focus and improve their company culture can benefit by picking up the slack where other businesses are falling short. Improving retention rates is not that hard; it’s simply about doing more to show your employees that you appreciate them and respect their needs.
Causes of High Turnover Rates
The notion that employees should just be happy they have a job and are getting paid—that asking to be recognized and made to feel special is self-centered and needy—is an outdated view that portrays workers as just another number that doesn’t really matter or deserve respect. Your employees don’t need you to indulge them every second of every day; that’s not what they are asking for. But they are hard-working human beings with needs that deserve to be appreciated and acknowledged.
Poor mental health and burnout are the two main contributors to high turnover rates, which are fueled by a lack of respect and care. When employees are overworked and under-appreciated, they can quickly become burnt out, and their mental health can suffer as well. Often, workers won’t even speak up about their needs because they fear suffering negative consequences either because they don’t feel that their employer cares or because they have had bad experiences from coming forward to employers in the past.
How to Improve Employee Experiences and Retention Rates
“Improving retention rates is not that hard; it’s simply about doing more to show your employees that you appreciate them and respect their needs”.
Recognition is key. When employees don’t feel recognized or feel like their employer doesn’t care about their needs, they lose interest and feel uninspired to continue putting in the effort to help their employer succeed, understandably. Employees are the backbone of your company—they are working just as hard as everyone else. So why would they want to continue working for an employer who reaps the benefits of their hard work without ever being appreciated or recognized for what they’ve done?
The cost of employee turnover is also much higher than the cost of respect and recognition. Often, employers who don’t offer good benefits packages or find other ways to regularly show employee appreciation are concerned about the cost and effort it will take. However, companies that lack a healthy and respectful environment and don’t continually recognize their employees often lose more money in the long run due to high turnover rates. So, essentially, it pays to go that extra mile to show you care and ensure your employees’ needs are met.
A great way to consider why and how to improve employee satisfaction and retention rates is Maslov’s Hierarchy theory. The five levels of Maslov’s hierarchy are based on the needs that motivate most individuals, which include: Survival, Safety, Belonging, Self-Esteem, and Self-Actualization.
Underpaid employees are often in survival mode. They have a hard time focusing on other goals or motivations when all they can think about is how they don’t have enough money and what they can do to get more. This often leads to high turnover rates, as these employees will quickly quit one job and move onto another if it pays more, even if it’s only 50 cents to a dollar more an hour. Reevaluating your pay structure and offering employees a livable and respectable wage can help you avoid turnover in this situation.
Employees who are already paid a decent, comfortable wage will have motivations beyond money. At this stage, they care about job security and comfort. Typically, employers who lose employees who are in this stage do so because the employee doesn’t feel comfortable in their work environment. This can happen for various reasons, such as a toxic work environment, a lack of inclusivity, harassment, a general lack of positive company culture, and camaraderie. Providing a positive work environment that promotes healthy communication, respect for individual needs, and inclusivity can go a long way towards retaining employees in the safety stage.
Employees in the belonging stage likely have their first two needs met—money and security—but now they are looking for a job that makes them feel like they are a part of something special. They want to feel accepted, like a vital member of the team whose voice matters. Employers can give employees in this stage what they need by listening to them, respecting them, and recognizing them for their hard work. Providing engaging work interactions and promoting team spirit is also important to retain employees in this stage.
Those who are in the self-esteem stage want to feel seen and recognized as well, but on another level. They likely already feel a sense of belonging, but if their hard work continually goes unrecognized by upper management, they will likely start to lose their motivation to continue working hard.
Recognition programs, pay raises, promotions, awards, certificates, and thoughtful tokens of appreciation can help employees in this stage feel that they are appreciated and recognized by their employer. Employees who experience a high level of self-esteem in the workplace are more likely to work harder and think creatively to help the company succeed.
When all previous needs are met, employees in this final stage seek to fulfill their own needs by prioritizing goals outside of their careers. If employees in this stage are not given more freedom and flexibility to focus on their personal life goals after all of the hard work they have devoted to their career, they may start feeling that it’s time to move on.
However, if an employer can give these employees the flexibility they need and even encourage them to fulfill their needs outside of the workplace, they are more likely to stick around and continue delivering quality work that goes above and beyond. To satisfy employees at this stage, you can offer extended time off and sabbaticals for them to pursue other opportunities and interests outside of the workplace.
Reevaluate Your Management Strategies
Shifting your company’s focus to provide more satisfactory employee experiences can take time. Remote work environments can be even harder to manage, and finding ways to connect with your teams and express your gratitude in these settings can be difficult. However, whether your company has gone fully remote, hybrid, or is 100% in-office, you can shift your focus to provide better employee experiences by reevaluating your management strategies.
Your managers and supervisors should move away from the idea that they are there to manage and control to being there to guide and leaOften, employees don’t need management; they need leadership. Taking steps to improve the leadership skills of your managers can help improve communication and create healthier and more positive work environments. Just being better listeners makes a huge difference to employees.
Retaining employees and meeting their needs is about more than offering the occasional employee appreciation day. Millennials and other younger generations entering the professional workforce prioritize their mental health and well-being more than previous generations, which means employers need to shift their focus to creating more positive, inclusive, and appreciative work environments. The benefit is that employees who have their needs met are more likely to stick around and are motivated to work harder for their employers to help the company succeed.
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About the Author
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity and marketing strategies. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.