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Whistle while you work

Gallup’s latest State of the American Workplace survey, shows that 70% of US employees are not engaged at work. This begs a question for managers: “When was the last time you really made the effort to see what the people you work with are really thinking and how they feel about their work?” This is key information if you want to attract and retain talented staff, in order to provide a superior product in your marketplace.

Some enlightened leaders do that one simple thing; they ask their employees how they feel and what they get in return could be priceless information, which helps them retain their best employees and optimise productivity.

Video game retailer, GameStop’s director of human resources, Daniel Parent, is one of those leaders. He knows the power of checking in with his team. He schedules regular appointments saying: “Ask employees how happy they are at work and what can I do to make them happier.” He has learned that asking those two simple questions shows his group that they have his support. Also, he learns what their real issues are, so he can provide them with meaningful direction.

Knowing what motivates his team can boost their performance and their satisfaction on the job. His questions also act as an early warning system, allowing him to head off issues before they become big problems. A case in point was an e, confessing that trying to juggle both roles left her feeling like she wasn’t  a good person.

Receiving permission from her boss to spend more time with her new baby was what made the difference. She and Daniel worked out a mutually beneficial arrangement and, by communicating regularly, Daniel was able to reassure Jennifer that she was meeting all of his expectations and then some. That allowed her to turn her full attention to her child outside of work and really value their time together. “I would never have known this was bothering her if I didn’t ask,” he says.

He tells of another example in which an employee put what she perceived to be the needs of the company above her personal well-being. En route to a meeting, she told him that she had a dental appointment and would have to leave promptly at 4pm. At 4.10 pm, the meeting was showing no sign of winding up, so Daniel leaned over to his colleague and whispered that she should leave to make her appointment. She happily left to get her teeth seen to.

Daniel makes the point that people don’t work for a company, they work for their boss. Employees have told them they stay at GameStop because of him. “These are talented people who could easily get another job, paying better, elsewhere.” The small investment of time he makes in asking his employees how happy they are, has paid off many times, particularly considering what it might cost to replace members of his team.our team is made up of high-performing and motivated individuals you want to retain, here some pointers for monitoring and improving their engagement:

  • Schedule a regular appointment (monthly or quarterly) and ask your employees whether they are happy at work and what you can do to make them happier. Don’t wait for the annual review to have this conversation.

  • Keep open lines of communication, so you can offer support and address issues before they become full-blown problems.

  • Help all team members manage their professional obligations so they can meet their personal needs, allowing them to be present and focused on their work when they are in the office.

  • Keep on questioning, Don’t assume that you have all the information you need if you’ve asked people once if they are happy. Circumstances inside and outside of the workplace change over time and feelings can evolve accordingly.

Relationships are built on a series of little moments that create a big impact over time. Sending someone gratefully off to the dentist is not earth-shattering, but it is an affirmation that someone’s personal needs are important and to be respected. The cumulative effect of small actions can strengthen foundations or they can tear them apart. The Gallup survey seems to show there is more erosion than building of the human spirit in the American workplace. Be someone who builds others up, rather than knocking them down.

As Daniel says; checking with his employees in this way, is about retention. Regular communication means  that he knows what motivates his employees and the issues they need to overcome to perform at their best. This helps him reward his most talented team members in ways that mean something to them individually, which can change over time, depending on what is happening in their personal and professional lives

As Daniel says, checking in with his employees like this is all about retention. By communicating regularly with his employees, he knows what motivates them and the challenges they need to overcome in order to do their best work.  This knowledge helps him reward his most talented team members in ways that are meaningful to them, which can change over time, depending on what is happening in both their personal and professional lives. Like Daniel, all managers can put the effort in and get the reward of a highly engaged, productive and happy team of employees.

Nigel Phillips

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