26 May 2024, 16:05
By Jason O’Brien Nov 02, 2015

Retaining and motivating staff

Acquiring – and then retaining – the most capable and competent professionals is one of the main priorities for businesses today. Nurturing existing staff can help avoid a high turnover rate, says Jason O’Brien, who suggests a few approaches … 

The economic situation and global competition have had a great impact on the framework of today’s human resources departments. These factors have also had serious effects on employment and the motivation levels of employees.

In an increasingly competitive business world, it is essential to maximise each and every resource at your disposal in order to avoid being surpassed by the competition. Not only that, but the cost of training employees only for them to later move on – in the worst case possibly even to a competitor – can be a severe drain on resources.

Motivate and enhance employees

Companies have a tendency to focus on the individual performance of employees, investing time in identifying their weaker areas. However, it can be easy to neglect addressing how these individuals perform as part of a group. Increasing the attention placed on developing social skills and other factors such as collective productivity is the real key to business development.

This can motivate employees to contribute and buy into the company by promoting freedom of expression and communication, and through the exchange of best practices and experiences. For example, including further training programmes in your employee offering can have the dual effect of improving employee performance – and therefore also the business operation – as well as increasing your employees’ sense of personal development.

Horizontal management

Traditional hierarchical structures are rigid and nowadays unsuited to the needs of a fast-moving industry. Market changes and innovative work processes are increasingly at odds with the new generations of workers.

More efficient management of employees in this framework may have a role in stimulating social interaction between managers and employees, and in turn simplify dialogue between the different functions. These in turn trigger a climate of greater freedom, and therefore employee satisfaction.

“The cost of training employees only for them to later move on – in the worst case possibly even to a competitor – can be a severe drain on resources”

A company applying a horizontal management structure would involve self-managed teams, in which decision-making time is shortened and unhindered by layers of management. This decentralised decision-making process promotes employee involvement as they are in turn made more responsible in steering the business success, making employees feel more valued and therefore more motivated.

Provide employees with the best tools

Developing employee skills is undoubtedly important, but it is also necessary to provide them with the right utensils for them to perform their job. As technology is ever developing, the tools available to your staff should also be upgraded so as to accelerate and encourage development in the digital realm.

Using 10-year-old software when a competitor is using more innovative solutions will not only hamper your staff’s ability to perform but will also give your competitors the advantage from a client’s perspective.

When staff recognise that an investment has been made towards improving their ability to complete their work effectively, they will consequently feel that their work is valued, and in turn, this will improve motivation.

Career paths and internal progression

Employees want to feel they are making progress and that their careers can advance. You could review the organisation of your company or department to examine how to create different roles and responsibilities, which can be turned into specialised career paths for employees.

A career path is represented by the ability to move towards a number of specialised positions that provide several benefits to the employee, whether they are professional titles, new responsibilities, additional authority or higher salaries.

Promote a sense of participation

Many companies are emerging from a phase of complex internal reorganisation, involving resource optimisation and cost cutting as a direct result of the recent economic environment. Recent times have seen the rise of new policies and reporting systems to monitor performance, with the aim to return more autonomy to managers.

When re-shaping the structure and applying such changes, it is important to establish a forum whereby everyone from within the organisation can have a degree of input. Whilst this might not result in everyone’s needs being satisfied, it can enable managers to make decisions and steer the organisation’s operations in a direction that will allow a large majority of the workforce to feel that their input and experiences are valued.

We are moving towards a more collaborative work environment, characterised by flexibility, advanced technologies and optimised processes. All of this is crucial to attracting and retaining employees – while taking into consideration that the cost of replacing talented people leaving the company is often very high.

Ultimately the goal is to create as comfortable as possible a working environment for staff. This will not only result in a motivated work force but will undoubtedly aid staff retention.

Author Jason O’Brien is the COO of TollFreeForwarding.com, an international telecommunications provider based in Los Angeles, which brings businesses around the world instant access to new and existing customers via its huge inventory of international phone numbers.

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