Whether you’re looking to ditch a bad habit or make a major life change, January is traditionally a pivotal month for many people. For companies too, it can be a challenging time. According to research by Glassdoor, 1 in 5 employees are likely to be thinking about changing jobs in January. That’s when employee retention starts to take a hit and recruitment costs increase, which is bad news for any business.
New Year, new job?
As people reassess their priorities and goals for the year ahead, they often perceive a new job to be the fresh start they’re looking for. So companies can end up losing good people who they’ve invested time and, often significant, training in. And they have to meet the cost of recruiting and training new staff to take their place, which doesn’t come cheap.
In fact, staff turnover costs UK businesses over £4 billion per year, while the average cost of replacing a member of staff is £30,614 according to an Oxford Economics study. Even more worrying, 20% of those new employees never make it past the first 12 months. That means, come next New Year, it all starts again.
So how do you counter these New Year blues, boost employee retention and make sure your business starts the year with a happy and engaged workforce?
Improve your employee communication
“A company is people… employees want to know…
am I being listened to, or am I a cog in the wheel?”
Sir Richard Branson
When it comes to keeping your workforce happy and your employee retention rates high, good communication is the key. No one likes to feel they’re not being listened to, or worse still, ignored.
A small issue, left unchecked and unresolved, can build up to something much bigger. Not only can that cause someone to be so unhappy they leave their job, but it can have a knock-on effect on the entire team.
Taking the time to regularly talk to your employees and understand how they feel about their day-to-day work is important. It’s a modest investment that will pay you back tenfold when it comes to resolving issues and boosting employee retention, morale and motivation. Your staff will feel you care about them and the contribution they make to your business.
Not only that, but keeping the lines of communication open doesn’t just show you where the problems lie. It can also help you pinpoint the positive aspects of your business. By encouraging feedback, you'll learn what your employees enjoy about their work, giving you the opportunity to build on the good stuff.
Engage and involve your employees
Talking of contribution, it’s also important to make sure your employees are not just engaged, but also involved in your business. By that we mean helping them understand how their day-to-day work contributes to your business success.
Nothing destroys employee morale more than going to work day after day and getting no feedback on how you’re doing, or if it’s making a difference. When they’re treated like they’re invisible, it’s easy to see why people decide to look for a new job with an employer who will appreciate them.
A 2017 report by leading recruitment organisation, Robert Half, shows the top three drivers for employee happiness are:
#1 PRIDE in their organisation.
#2 Being treated with FAIRNESS AND RESPECT.
#3 FEELING APPRECIATED for the work they do.
So how do you meet those needs?
Keep your staff in the loop about what’s going on in your business. Share customer feedback. Celebrate your successes. Gamify challenges to create team spirit and help them reach their goals. Ask them for their thoughts on your plans for the future. Create a happy working environment where your employees feel appreciated and supported.
Most importantly, make sure they understand how what happens in your business relates back to them and the job they do.
Once your staff can see how they contribute, they'll start to feel like they’re making a difference. This will give them the motivation they need to do a great job and make work a good place to be.
Happy employees are more productive
What if someone said you could boost productivity in your business by more than 10%, using assets you already have? You’d want to know how, wouldn’t you? We certainly would.
Well, as research by a leading UK university has shown, you can. All you need to do is make sure your existing employees are happy.
In their paper on ‘Happiness and Productivity’ a team from the Department of Economics at Warwick University reports that happy employees are up to 12% more productive.
According to the researchers: “happier workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality”.
So, there’s another reason why it’s well worth keeping your employees happy. Plus, happy employees take less time off sick and stay in their job twice as long as unhappy employees. All of which make a positive contribution to a company’s bottom line.
Happy employees deliver better customer service
It’s a simple equation, but one with huge importance:
Happy employees = happy customers
With so much research to prove the point, it’s now a given that employee happiness has a direct impact on customer happiness.
Who hasn’t felt the effect of an unhappy employee on the end of a phone, in a snippy email or face to face? Where ‘service with a smile’ has clearly gone AWOL, to be replaced with surliness and poor customer service?
Do you remember how it made you feel as a customer? And did it make you want to go back to that establishment?
What customers want is a warm welcome and service that’s second-to-none, from happy employees who enjoy what they do and go about it with a smile. The kind of customer experience that makes them feel special and is something they want to tell others about.
As we all know, great customer service starts from within a business. It starts with happy, motivated employees who take pride in their work and want to deliver the best customer experience.
Going back to Sir Richard and one of his most famous quotes:
“If you look after your staff, they'll look after your customers.
It's that simple.”
How to increase employee retention and boost your business:
Once the festivities are over, the post-Christmas period can be a challenging time for businesses. Focusing on employee happiness can help you overcome the traditional New Year slump. It can boost productivity and employee motivation, increase employee retention and give your business a flying start in 2018.
Invest a little more time in communicating with your employees, to make sure you understand what they want and need. It will make them feel valued and help them get the best from their job in the year ahead.
Creating more opportunities to involve and engage your employees. Share your business successes, challenges and goals, and make sure you link them back to each person's own contribution. By doing this, you will create a better informed, engaged and motivated workforce.
And it’s not just restricted to this time of year either. Happy employees bring benefits that will help boost your business all year round, from increased productivity to better customer service.
So start the year as you mean to go on and let your best asset, your employees, help you achieve your business goals in 2018.