‘Tis the season of New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, improve finances, and stop a myriad of bad habits. But if leaders want to improve their work life as much as their personal life, they also should be contemplating the resolutions it will take to make real progress in improving staff engagement and retention this year and beyond.
Not surprisingly, every senior leadership team I’ve talked with over the past several months has listed “improving staff engagement” and “reducing turnover” among their top organizational goals. High turnover is not only extremely expensive; frontline managers and staff tell us it is exhausting. Recruiting, interviewing, selecting, and onboarding require focused physical, intellectual, and emotional effort for the entire team. And when someone resigns, it starts all over again. The hiring hamster wheel is a very real contributor to staff and manager burnout.
The hiring hamster wheel is a very real contributor to staff and manager burnout.
Prioritizing engagement and retention at the corporate level is important. But setting those goals just scratches the surface in terms of achieving real workforce culture change. Perhaps more than any other company-wide goal, making progress in reducing turnover and disengagement takes every leader — at every level — every day to commit to a handful of best leadership practices that research proves make a difference. In other words, it requires individual leader resolutions and the resolve to keep them.
Here are four straightforward but potent practices every leader should be consistently following if they are serious about reversing disturbing trends in workforce culture.
1. Show up for staff.
Executive visibility has never been more important. One of Queen Elizabeth’s core beliefs and philosophies she summed up in a few words: “I have to be seen to be believed.” The same is true to leaders in companies. The good news is that when leaders are fully present and sincerely engaged, a little bit of them goes a long way. That authentic presence should be demonstrated in regular leadership rounds, interactive staff meetings, and other open forums.
2. Take time to listen more often.
This key principle goes hand-in-hand with #1. When leaders seem distracted, dismissive, or disinterested in issues that are important to staff, research shows that can be a contributing factor in organizational burnout.
3. Provide consistent, balanced feedback.
Employees need to know that you care about them as individuals. The best way to prove that is to give them real-time recognition and gratitude when they go above-and-beyond for customers and/or other members of the team. But it shouldn’t be about only praise. Employees appreciate helpful, constructive feedback on ways that they can improve and be more successful.
4. Encourage and reward strong teamwork.
A manager can’t, nor shouldn’t, solve every problem alone. Giving team members a voice nd the opportunity to work on issues and solve problems together is at the core of every contemporary performance improvement methodology. Also, a sense of belonging is increasingly being recognized as a core component of a healthy, rewarding, productive workforce culture. Helping team members with diverse backgrounds and points-of-view feel included is key to building strong teamwork.
It doesn’t really matter how specific, measured, metric-driven, and reported a corporate goal related to staff engagement is without the individual resolve by every leader to make changes that will significantly impact frontline staff and managers’ experience. The start of a new year is a perfect time to make the leadership resolutions that will pay off in lower turnover and disengagement.
Stamp & Chase offers unexpected solutions to challenges of employee burnout, retention, and disengagement that many leading organizations are facing today. If you’d like to learn more about our robust tools and approaches that help leaders transform staff engagement by developing middle managers, send us a message here.