Developing Your Talent

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As Retention Becomes a Bigger Issue, Offer Respect

By Kristen Leverone on January 30, 2014

As the economy strengthens, an increase in labor demand will begin to trigger more voluntary “quits” as workers begin to feel more confident about job prospects and look for new positions. Employee retention is now becoming a bigger issue.

In “Low-Cost Ways To Show Employees They’re Highly Valued,” Fast Company blogger Robert Matuson lists 30 low- or no-cost ideas for businesses to demonstrate appreciation and boost morale. Some of the rewards Matuson suggests are traditional, such as relaxed dress codes, wellness benefits, telecommuting and flex time. Others are a bit more unconventional such as free chair massages, concert tickets and “canine colleagues.”

While these tactics may help boost morale in the short term, leadership expert and author Paul Marciano maintains, “Promotions, trips and perks lead to temporary increases in performance, not enduring changes in commitment and continuous improvement. Corporate vitality depends on creating a culture that leads to committed, loyal, and engaged employees, and ‘carrot and stick’ approaches just won’t get you there.”

Marciano contends “respect is the lynchpin of employee engagement.” He lists “seven critical ways managers can show respect”: recognition, empowerment, supportive feedback, partnering, expectation setting, consideration and trust. One of the most important ways to cover all seven at one time and foster a culture of respect is to ensure leaders are engaging employees in meaningful career conversations. It’s a proven approach for developing and retaining talent and enhancing communications, while helping employees to feel valued.

Ask yourself: Have new leaders been provided with formal leadership development that equips them to conduct meaningful career conversations with their direct reports? Lacking experience and training to be effective, this skill gap can have negative consequences on business performance and retention.

To be effective and meaningful, the conversations must have value for both the employee and the leader. Career discussions should be ongoing, not just relegated to yearly performance reviews. Effective conversations must include feedback, advice and coaching on performance and skills, while providing information that keeps employees in the loop and connected to potential growth opportunities within the organization.

If you want an engaged workforce who feels respected and valued, equip your leaders with the skills and tools needed to make it happen.

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