We can all recognize that hardworking, loyal employees are invaluable, but even more so after a tumultuous, emotionally trying pandemic. Our team members have learned to take the reins and become individuals in new ways that 'normal' office life may not have allowed them to be before. For example, working from home has built a lot of trust and cemented the idea that self-sufficiency can be very rewarding.
With this new take on managing employees, business owners need to continue empowering their team for them to remain content. So, what's the key to success for retention?
How morale & retention have shifted over the pandemic
First, let's discuss how COVID made waves in terms of morale and overall retention. It shouldn't go unnoticed that this pandemic was a tough time for all, but it really put work ethic and compassion to the test. We found ourselves sitting alone in our home offices, unaware that the dynamic would change permanently.
Nora Sheils, founder of Bridal Bliss and co-founder of Rock Paper Coin notes, "Nothing kills an employee's morale like being micromanaged. Provide them with the tools and resources to do their job and then give them the autonomy to learn and grow. Mistakes are how people learn, and we've all made more than we can count throughout our careers. While onboarding and staying updated on your employee's activities and goals is more difficult while working remotely, you must streamline your process to ensure everyone has what they need to work efficiently. Staff meetings might be different over Zoom, but they are necessary to keep your team in the know and for team camaraderie."
Examples of (inexpensive!) ways to boost employee retention
Yes, it can certainly be difficult to express your gratitude for your employees through a screen, but it's easier to accomplish than you think! Looking to boost retention doesn't mean throwing gifts or perks and hoping that something sticks, but rather, showing your appreciation for staying the course.
According to Shannon Tarrant, co-founder of WeddingVenueMap.com, you don't have to break the bank to go the extra mile. "My favorite benefit from my last job was getting my birthday off paid. I didn't have to take a vacation day or personal day, and it really felt like they cared. With everyone working from home, I try to mail my team something fun, such as a card to make them laugh or smile, a funny article or joke I've read, or a small token to say thanks. The tiniest efforts really go far.
Don't harp on a mistake. Everyone isn't perfect, and sometimes, little things happen or fall through the cracks. By taking the time to figure out the why you may learn they need help or support rather than being scolded."
Sheils continues, "Employees want to feel heard, so plan regular check-ins. Make sure your employees are happy, healthy, and feeling supported. To create a healthy and empowering work culture, keep the lines of communication open and plan team outings even from a distance. Even if the 'outings' are in each person's home, you can send ice cream before a meeting, cocktail kits, or schedule an Airbnb Experience for team building."
The goal of providing benefits to your team should reach well beyond the scope of getting through to the next quarter. You should consider these offerings as part of investing in each of your employees. They should feel passionate about the work they're doing, but they also deserve trust and a healthy work environment to thrive in.
Kevin Dennis, owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, suggests, "If there's anything I learned during the height of 2020, it's that I couldn't have pushed through without my team. They look to you for guidance and support. When you step up and lead them through the really tough times, they notice the value in having that. Employees are much more likely to stick with you when you give them the respect and consideration they deserve."
Tarrant adds: "My team is extremely loyal. When they want a new opportunity or advancement, we talk about if it exists in our small business if I can create it, and if it doesn't, I help them find the next position. But they leave and come back to train their replacements. We have a small but mighty team that puts in a ton of effort."
All in all, don't feel as if you can't contribute to morale and retention if you don't have the funds to do so. Small, meaningful details can make all the difference, and your (happy) employees will thank you in the long run!