If you employ people in your business, you’ve probably absorbed lessons about employees’ intrinsic needs: such as being treated fairly and respectfully and being recognised for their contributions.
In a healthy environment, where boss and employee are essentially reasonable, and neither having suspect integrity, 3 simple elements contribute to the employee being fundamentally satisfied in their workplace.
- Good boss
- Good work
- Good money
As an employer, if you're keen to retain good people, I'd encourage you to consider the 3 guiding principles, which hang of the elements:
- If you provide an environment where the employee feels their boss treats them well; they find their work interesting; and they're fairly paid for their efforts they will, in the main, be happy at work. This kind of environment helps cement employee loyalty.
- If you provide an environment that offers two of the three elements, then generally the employee will find the workplace somewhere between tolerable and good. S/he can put up with a grumpy boss if they like their work and the money. They can tolerate repetitive work if the boss is good and the money’s fair. They will accept a lower income if they think the boss is great and the work is interesting. Whilst two out of three elements are not perfect, it's not bad either. Whilst two out of three will encourage commitment (effort), it doesn't build employee loyalty.
- If you provide an environment that offers only one, or none, of the elements – you are headed for trouble ... capital ‘T’ Trouble. Employees who are bored, feel they're treated unfairly, or have to work with unreasonable or cranky bosses will inevitably become resentful, and act out. Their work and timeliness may become shoddy or communication the boss, colleagues or clients becomes unpredictable. Their performance will drop even further when they're distracted as they look for a new job.
Assuming you have recruited suitable talent; if it’s within the business' capacity, my recommendation is to establish an employee environment that satisfies all three elements. It's setting up the people side of the practice for consistent, good performance. It also builds trust and good communication, and when there is a slide, it can be addressed quickly and honestly.
If you’ve got a situation where a talented employee is underperforming, run through the three elements and check how many are in place. Whilst I'm an advocate for swift action in the event of a recruitment miss-step, or a genuine need for performance management – an employee’s behaviour is often a direct response to their environment.
Please do consider the three guiding principles and how they may be contributing to the attitude and performance in your workplace. Appropriate tweaking precludes the significant costs and disruption associated with employee separation and replacement.
Next month, I'll write about the qualities that contribute to being a great boss!
Tracey Henderson is a people management consultant and delivers support to organisations to strengthen their employee relationships.