Turnover sucks. It can ruin projects, destroy client relationships and infect employees with uncertainty.
As we are all exposed to more information, it can be confusing to figure out what employees want and need. What will make them happy? What do you need to do to get them to stay?
What Employees Need
The answer lies in how they feel about going to work every day and the people they work with. Do they feel valued and trusted? Can they live the life they want and need to live or are they challenged to compromise their needs and desires? Is it a job, a stepping-stone or a place they want to grow and prosper?
I have discovered many sacred “truths” related to employee engagement, productivity and retention. Here are ten of them:
1) People need to know the “why”
It is not enough to tell people what to do and how to do it – you must explain why it is important. Don’t assume they already know or understand why you are asking them to do something.
2) What worked yesterday may not work today
Try new things and challenge the status quo. Old-school business practices are not attractive to today’s younger employees. Focus on continuous improvement and catapult your business results.
3) The war for talent is never going to end
Even in the next recession. Your young staff hear about start-ups founded by 22 year–olds that sell for a billion after five years. They dream of starting their own business and know they have lots of options. This is something you need to prepare for. They are going to want a lot more money and you are going to have to pay it.
4) When you train your employees in a group, the whole group will perform better
I learned this by training over 2,000 A&E professionals over the last 5 years. Employees don’t want to be lectured. In a collaborative environment they learn to work together and solve problems. When you mix the groups between roles and offices you will see even more spectacular results. This will also solve culture issues due to silos. This approach will start to break down the walls and help employees share solutions.
5) Your employees have tons of good ideas
But you don’t listen to them enough. They see things that could improve every day, but they don’t tell you. They know where your systems are failing but they just get frustrated and stop using them. When you ask your employees for feedback, they will tell you exactly what you need to do to make their work easier. And they will feel heard and valued.
6) Family is everything
It is for you and it is for them. They will always pick their family over work. The days of working crazy hours and working their way up the ladder are over for most of today’s younger employees. They will quit before compromising their family time. Appreciate this and your company will be a treasured place to stay.
7) There’s no such thing as too much training
There is ineffective training and poor training, but good training is a great asset. Employees feel valued when you invest in them. Great training should challenge them. It should change their behavior. If you ensure the training ties to results and performance, you will get amazing results. Invest in training your people right, and you will see a 5X to 10x return on investment (ROI) – and your employees will love it.
8) Consistency beats talent
About 20% of employees will be your top performers and 20% will stay at the bottom. The best way to help the 60% average to good performers excel is to make their jobs easier. By improving business processes and automating key tasks you will reduce their frustration. The more consistent you make their jobs, the easier it will be for them to focus on technical excellence. This is what they really love and want to spend their time doing.
9) Your values, leadership communication and absence of accountability are driving employee behavior
If they don’t follow processes or use your systems, it is because they don’t believe they’re important. When they over-design projects or are afraid to ask for change orders, they believe high quality and keeping clients happy is more important than making a profit.
Top performing employees want accountability. They want to know what they need to do to get rewarded and recognized. Without it, they will feel there is no benefit to performing. At some point they will leave and go somewhere that incentivizes them. Accountability implemented in a positive way can increase motivation, engagement and profits.
10) Their success depends on you
The leadership team sets the strategy and direction for the firm. They follow your example and listen intently to what you say. They see how the firm invests in technology, in client success and in the future. They want to work somewhere that matters and stands for something. Leaders that embrace old-school business practices and work environments will drive employees away. Leaders that take advantage of technology and remain relevant will attract top employees.
As the new decade starts, it’s a great time to assess how your culture lines up with today’s workforce. How do your business practices and technology compare with the fastest growing firms? Which of these ten truths need your attention?
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RAISE Your Value: 5 Steps for Architecture and Engineering Firms to Uncover Hidden Value, Design a Winning Advantage and Charge More
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