Corporate culture is a hot topic these days, especially as so many companies use technology to provide services that once were performed by humans. As technology increasingly replaces the mundane and repeatable processes that humans once handled, the value of the humans that remain employed will continue to increase. This is especially true in small- and mid-sized companies, where each and every hiring decision is crucial. These days the humans aren’t there to just get the work done, but to serve the company’s customers in new and better ways.
Employee engagement can be defined many ways, but the root idea is that they should value in the work that they – as individuals – do for their particular company. As business owners, we know that engaged employees are happier, more productive and efficient, and better for the company in both customer retention and bottom line profits. Engaged employees are also a key component to a strong corporate culture. With all of these positive effects of engaged employees, why don’t all companies make it a priority?
Well, for starters, it’s hard. If employee engagement could be achieved through Friday afternoon keg parties and ping pong tables, we would all do it (or at least consider doing it). But successful employee engagement - when workers enthusiastically work on behalf of the company’s goals - is not achieved solely through well-written employee handbooks and organizational charts. It is, instead, an ongoing drumbeat of why the work is important to the company’s community, and how the employees are the crucial factor in getting the work done well.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 53% of workers are “not engaged”. They are happy enough in the day-to-day, but will jump ship at a more enticing offer. This is expensive on many fronts, including downtime, training, corporate memory, and employee morale.
Consider these statistics:
- Josh Bersin of Deloitte describes employees as appreciating assets, and estimates the cost of losing an employee from tens of thousands of dollars to 1.5-2x the employee’s annual salary.
- According to the Work Institute’s 2019 Retention Report, based on 2018 data, U.S. employers lost $617 billion to voluntary employee turnover. Worse yet? They estimate that more than 75% of those turnover costs were controllable.
- Stephen King, the president and CEO of GrowthForce estimates that it usually “takes 8-12 weeks to replace a knowledge worker, and then another month or two before the replacement gets to full productivity mode.” According to the Studer Group, that number is even higher for more skilled workers. A survey of 610 CEOs by Harvard Business School estimates that typical mid-level managers require 6.2 months to reach their break-even point.
The bottom line: You can’t afford not to consider how important your employees are.
Whether you are trying to increase your employee engagement, or whether you want to remind your already engaged employees that they really are the lifeblood of your company, consider National Employee Appreciation Day, on March 6 this year, an opportunity to show your team just how much you value them personally and professionally. There are plenty of websites to tell you to cater a lunch, deliver flowers, or buy a gift card. That’s all well and good, but here are a few out-of-the-box thoughts from Brennan Financial Services you may want to consider as benefits to your employees:
Experiences: Teams bond differently when they are together outside of the confines of the office. Consider a repeatable event that becomes part of the DNA of your firm, such as an annual volunteer event, or a unique only-through-my-employer experience such as a trip.
Work life: Whether it’s a half day off or a new piece of tech, give your employees something to smile about when they think of work. Ask them what they want (instead of what you want) that would make their work life easier.
Gratitude: Proclaim out loud what you appreciate about each employee, or provide an opportunity for all employees to say something nice about each other - specifically about how they support the company’s mission or work.
Knowledge: This one may sound self-serving, but more companies are teaching their employees about personal finance to reduce the stress created when individuals and families are unsure if their money situation supports their needs. Whether you reimburse your clients for financial services expenses, have a professional onsite to talk to your employees, or offer education through the company retirement plan, this type of offering shows you care about their future.
Clarity: One of the skills we have started teaching our employees and clients is negotiation for salary, promotions and benefits. We believe that salary negotiation sounds scarier than it needs to, and should be approached by both employers and employees as a clear conversation about what the employer can offer the employee, and vice versa. Imagine if your employees felt like their job was really helping them meet their long-term life goals. And imagine if you as a business owner knew that your employees were happy with their jobs, that you could decrease the cost and downtime of lost employees, while increasing the corporate memory and morale of happy retained employees.
As a small business owner of a firm that specializes in client service, I know how hard it is to find and retain employees who are servant leaders, and who understand the importance of developing a trusted relationship with our clients. As I celebrate my team on National Employee Appreciation Day, I hope you find an opportunity to let your team know how important they are to your company’s work.
Debra Brennan Tagg is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional and the creator of the DBT360 Financial Plan, a proprietary program that helps her clients prioritize their goals, leverage their resources, and address their risks. She is the president of BFS Advisory Group and teaches the public and the financial services industry about the importance of values-based financial planning and investor education.