By Amanda Augustine, careers expert for TopCV
Now that furlough has drawn to a close and the Great Resignation is truly underway, it’s never been more important for organisations to improve their employee relations strategy and retain their top talent. As the old adage goes, employees quit bosses, not jobs.
In fact, a TopCV study found that 65 per cent of UK professionals are considering leaving their job as a result of poor treatment by their employer during the pandemic, and job vacancies in the UK reached an all-time high in July, with available posts exceeding one million for the first time.
If you, like many employers, are bracing for a surge in employee resignations, follow the steps below to create stronger employee relations with your teams.
Regularly connecting with your employees may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked by managers — especially when working in a remote environment. Checking in with your workers on an individual and group basis can prove incredibly valuable and nip potential issues in the bud.
It can be as simple as sending a Slack message or email at the start of the working day, holding a daily “stand-up meeting” via video conference, walking around to each person’s desk to say hi (if you’re working onsite together), or taking a moment out at the beginning of a meeting to ask how those in attendance are faring.
These small, yet frequent interactions can have a great impact on your workers’ wellbeing, while helping you to keep a pulse on the team, stay connected to their work, and identify any personnel problems before they arise.
Resist the urge to micromanage
No one wants to work for someone who is constantly looming over their employees, inspecting and criticising every detail of their work. In fact, research shows that micromanagement is one of the top three reasons employees hand in their notice. It causes unnecessary stress, demotivates your team, and destroys any progress you’ve made in employee relations by planting seeds of mistrust.
In order to avoid these negative consequences and improve your employee relations, take steps to resist your micromanagement tendencies. For example, establish clear expectations upfront when assigning a project, including the objectives, the deadline for completing the assignment, and how success will be measured. Focus on specifically outlining what you want the team or individual to accomplish, rather than how you expect them to achieve such an outcome. Empowering your employees to figure out their own approach to achieving a project will not only boost morale and encourage more creative decision making, but it will also help you develop a stronger working relationship with your team.
Nurture your team’s development
When TopCV asked over 750 UK professionals in September 2021 what matters most when choosing their next job, “Professional-development opportunities” topped the list with the largest percentage of votes. If you want to foster stronger employee relations, invest in their career progression and development.
You might start by delegating tasks to individuals that play to their strengths and enable them to learn and grow in their role. If your company doesn’t have a formal mentorship programme in place, you might create unofficial pairings among your workers and other members of the organisation, perform virtual or in-person “lunch and learn” training sessions, or offer to meet with each of your employees once or twice a quarter for the sole purpose of focussing on their professional development.
You can also speak to those in Human Resources to determine if there is any money set aside in the budget for training and development opportunities.
When TopCV asked disgruntled UK professionals why they would consider leaving their jobs, the No. 1 reason for employee dissatisfaction was poor communication. In fact, 17 per cent of those working during the pandemic told TopCV that their company failed to communicate quickly, often and/or effectively about major issues such as working hours, layoffs and pay during the crisis. Similarly, 55 per cent of employees who were furloughed felt neglected by their employer, who failed to communicate or keep them informed of next steps.
Whether your organisation is thriving or muddling through a crisis, it’s important that you keep the lines of communication open. Transparency is important. Share information when you can that will help your workers succeed. If an initiative failed or succeeded, communicate the results and what you or your team learnt as a result.
Offer constructive feedback
Constructive feedback should be a gift, especially when it’s delivered properly and in a timely fashion. Be sure to address inappropriate behaviour or performance issues that are damaging their career progression, as well as reinforce and reward their good decisions when they’ve done something right. Most importantly, make sure you provide the feedback in a timely manner and in a place where your conversation can be kept private. Don’t wait until their next performance review or decide to reprimand your employee during a group meeting. Remember, you can provide some pretty harsh, yet helpful, feedback when it comes from a place of caring.
Great leaders take joy in providing their direct reports with opportunities to shine. If they worked hard on a project, make sure their peers are aware, and give credit where credit’s due. Your accomplishments are no longer about your individual contributions to the team; now, it’s about what you empower your team to achieve under your leadership. Celebrating your team’s achievements and shining the spotlight on a particular worker’s contribution will only improve your employee relations.
If you want to retain your top talent, it begins with strengthening your working relationships. Healthy relationships – in and out of the workplace – are built upon mutual trust. While you can’t build trust with your employees overnight, the steps outlined above can help you start the process.
About the author
Amanda Augustine is the resident careers expert for Talent Inc.’s suite of brands: TopCV, TopInterview and TopResume. She has more than 15 years of experience in the recruiting and career-advice industry, and she is a certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW).