Neil Buck: Why employers should consider their staff’s new year resolutions

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Do you have a happy New Year ahead planned with your current workforce?

It’s a well-known fact that in the month of January more relationships break up than in any other month of the year and the relationship with your employees should be considered too – are they likely to leave you any time soon and if so, what would be the impact on your business?

Therefore, this time of year presents a fantastic opportunity to ensure that your staff are fully onboard with your big strategic goals, if you have communicated them of course – feeling connected to the organisation’s goals is one way to keep employees mentally and emotionally tied to your company.

Have you considered what you need to do to tap into the general feeling of renewed motivation? Are there things going on beneath the surface that you need to consider or are there potential threats that could harm your business as we kick off a new year?

A real worry that many business owners will have right now is losing their top talent – those with the skills that carry or will carry your organisation to where you want it to go.

People often reassess their goals in January, and if your business isn’t staying ahead of the game for any reason, then you may well find that your best members of staff are looking for new roles.

You might think that this isn’t happening, but the reality is that it can be hard to gauge what’s going on beneath the surface.

So, what should you do about it?

Well, it goes without saying that you can hardly tie your staff to their desks. Even the best businesses lose valued prize asset employees from time to time, and though it’s costly to replace them, it’s something that you’ll no doubt have to deal with from time to time.

Now’s a great time to do an ‘audit’, and establish the current climate in your workforce, and think about how you would cope if your staff did decide to move on to pastures new.

You can conduct ‘stay’ interviews. In addition to performing exit interviews to learn why employees are leaving, consider asking longer-tenured employees why they stay.

Ask questions such as: Why did you come to work here? Why have you stayed? What would make you leave? What about your managers? What would you change or improve?

Then act on any information to improve and strengthen your position.

It’s always sensible to have a succession plan in place, so you don’t find yourself with an operational disaster on your hands.

A succession plan doesn’t have to sound so daunting – it just involves you looking to the future and determining how you can ensure you have the right people resources and skills in place and then implementing it.

You should also consider what you can do to improve your retention rates. It’s easy to jump to the assumption that it always comes down to cash and benefits, and that keeping your best people involves regular pay rises and bonuses. This simply isn’t the case though.

Yes, of course it helps, but retention levels are impacted by a wide variety of factors, and you may need to take a closer look at how you can get creative without blowing your budget.

Other factors that can aid retention by keeping your talent fresh and wanting to remain with you could include:

  • Promoting from within whenever possible. Giving employees a clear path of advancement (or being honest if there isn’t one due to there being a flat structure) will help employees feel less frustrated and ensure they are trying if they see a clear future for themselves by staying with you.
  • Establishing and maintaining open communication lines between employees and management. Hold regular meetings in which employees can offer ideas and ask questions. Have an open-door policy that encourages employees to speak frankly without fear of repercussion. Trust is everything in this game.
  • Fostering employee development. This could be on the job training to learn a new job skill or tuition reimbursement to help further your employee’s education. Anything that helps with their professional or personal development.
  • Involving managers. Get your managers to spend time coaching employees, helping good performers move to new positions and minimising poor performance.
  • Setting expectations. It may seem so basic, but often in small organisations, employees have a wide breadth of responsibilities. If they don’t know exactly what their jobs entail and what you need from them and how that links back to achieving the organisation’s goals, they can’t perform up to standard, and their morale and motivation will dip – a sure fire way to them looking for a new employer anytime soon.

So, there is no time better time than at the start of a new year for employers to get organised with all their people function related things so I hope you can get off to a good start and make 2017 the most successful one yet for you and your business.