The 5 R’s For Building Lifelong Relationships With Employees
Employees are willing to commit to a company that is also willing to make and keep its commitments to them.
In response to my article “10 Reasons To Stay At A Job For 10 Or More Years,” some people expressed fear that if they work hard and stay at a company faithfully through good times and bad, when it comes right down to it, they still might be expendable at the first sign of revenue stress. Some worry they’ll never be as valued or as well-compensated as newer employees. They believe the only way to significantly increase their wage is to “job hop” and hope for the best someplace else.
How can employers resolve these concerns? How can we, as employers, demonstrate that we are as dedicated to our employees as we hope they’ll be to us? Today I present to you a list of five “R’s” to cover the Requirements (sorry, I couldn’t resist) you can fulfill to give your employees a greater level of assurance about their commitment to stay. Here they are:
Show your employees you trust them by giving them responsibilities that truly empower them and that allow them to grow and feel like an important part of the company. Encourage them to gain new skills, competencies and capacities by hiring from within wherever possible and by giving promotions at appropriate times.
Employees want to know they are respected as people and that their contributions are appreciated. If you treat their work lightly or fail to acknowledge them because you’re too busy or distracted with your own concerns, they’ll likely start to feel dissatisfied and will start to look elsewhere for the respect they’re hoping to find. Every single employee should be treated with respect. This doesn’t mean that their behaviors or output is always respected—but the respect you hold for that individual and their unique talents should always be clear.
For example, one regional CEO made a practice of berating his employees in front of clients without warning in an attempt to impress clients with his disdain for the slightest slip in performance. In conversations with other executives, he regularly referred to his employees as “the worker bees.” Not surprisingly, turnover became rampant for his company and many have fled.
In contrast, another CEO, while walking past an elevator with his board of directors, noticed an employee in the elevator who had come to work, but was clearly feeling bereaved about a family concern. He stopped the conversation, left his directors, and took the employee’s hand in both of his while he expressed his sincere compassion for the individual, and then made sure the employee was fully taken care of before moving on. That company, not coincidentally, has extremely low turnover and is one of the top revenue-producing firms in our state.
Tie a part of your employees’ wages to the company’s performance. Offer a base pay and then add a part of the company’s revenue and/or profit on top as a performance bonus. This will not only motivate the employees to work hard, but will align their interests with the company’s revenue and profit goals and will serve as an incentive to stay with the company as it grows. The employees feel much more engaged and part of the company in this model, which is not far behind ownership of the company itself.
For small businesses with high growth potential, this is an effective way to attract top talent without breaking the bank. It’s also a good way to weather financial storms and to reward employees generously when times are good. By making the fixed cost of payroll inherently more variable under differing business conditions, you can make your company more resilient and agile while also treating your employees exceptionally well.
Reward is similar to Respect and Revenue-sharing, but it goes beyond monetary rewards. Those elements are definitely important as ways to show gratitude for employees’ hard work. However, other kinds of rewards, such as recognition in front of the company, company parties, department parties, family events, employee of the month awards, free lunches with the boss, gift cards, company logo clothing, thank you cards, flowers and support as employees have babies, adopt children, or do something good in the community, etc., help to contribute to the positive culture of the company and can be good morale builders, as well.
5. Relaxation Time
Be generous with time off. Don’t go overboard, but make sure your employees have sufficient time for sick days, family vacations, new babies, etc. Remember that it’s their jobs that enable the company to grow, but also remember to allow your employees to enjoy their lives during the time they’re outside office walls. There are many more important roles for your employees than their work-related positions, and they need to know that you honor and value those priorities as well.
It’s good to demand high-quality work from your employees, but don’t demand a continual level of pressure at 100 percent. Give employees a chance to catch their breath from one assignment to the next. You can accomplish this by encouraging team-building activities and building break periods into the day. Keep objectives firmly in hand, but don’t eliminate workday fun altogether.
In short, the objective of long-term company commitment works both ways. It’s understandable that employers look at least a bit askance at perpetual “job hoppers.” However, if you’d like your employees to make and keep a long-term commitment to your company, it is equally vital that you give them sufficient reason to stay.
David K. Williams, Contributor
Entrepreneur, author, CEO of Fishbowl and writer for HBR and Forbes.
Additional reporting for this article was provided by Fishbowl’s Content Specialist Robert Lockard.
Author: David K. Williams