Your employees are the force responsible for executing your vision of the company. They are the ones interacting with customers on a daily basis, creating your products, delivering your services, and keeping the business running efficiently. If you’re a responsible and ambitious business owner, you’ll go to great lengths to make sure you’re hiring the right candidates. But even with the right candidates in place, there are ways to mishandle employee management. In egregious cases, you may drive those excellent employees away from your business entirely.
That’s the biggest reason why it’s important to keep employees happy and address employee concerns as thoroughly and as consistently as possible.
Why Keeping Employees Happy Is So Important
Skilled managers understand the value of keeping happy employees, but let’s spell it out, because it’s more nuanced than you might think:
· Employee retention. For starters, happy employees are much more likely to stick with your company. The cost of replacing an employee is exceedingly high, because it takes time to search for and hire a stellar candidate and even more time to train them properly. It’s much more cost effective to retain your current staff.
· Employee net promoter score. Employee net promoter score, or eNPS, is a measurement of how likely an employee is to recommend your company to others. Addressing employee concerns and keeping them more satisfied will boost this score, giving your business an additional channel through which it can raise brand visibility.
· Recruiting. Most people want to work for a business that cares for them. If you go out of your way to make your employees happy, you’ll have a much easier time recruiting new candidates to your business. At a certain point, candidates from all over the world will begin to seek out your business specifically because they want to work there.
· Reputation and revenue. In line with this, happier and more satisfied employees can improve your reputation and thereby boost your revenue. Clients and customers will be much more likely to work with you if you create a satisfactory and respectful workplace.
· Productivity and workplace happiness. Additionally, happy employees are productive employees. If you keep your workforce satisfied and address their complaints quickly, your productivity and efficiency will improve.
How to Handle Employee Concerns
So what’s the best way to handle employee concerns?
· Document everything. First, document everything related to the concern. Whenever an employee complains about something or voices a serious concern, write it down and file it with HR. It’s also important to document the steps you took to resolve that complaint. This way, you can show the employee and future employees that you take these complaints seriously. And if there’s ever a legal issue around this complaint, you’ll have proof that you did the right thing.
· Employ a repeatable process. Don’t handle employee concerns and complaints in an improvised manner. Instead, solidify and document a repeatable process that all your managers and HR staff can replicate consistently. This way, all your employees will get equal treatment, and you’ll be much less likely do you have concerns that go unaddressed.
· Allow both public and private concerns to be raised. Some employees will be perfectly comfortable voicing their concerns in public. Others will prefer a private sit down. Still others you want to remain completely anonymous to avoid any threat of retaliation. It’s important to make all these options available to your employees.
· Foster a transparent environment. Create a broader workspace that fosters transparency and honesty. Listen actively to all your employees and engage in dialogue about important matters. It will make employees much more comfortable speaking up.
· Confirm your understanding. After an employee voices a concern, confirm your understanding of that concern by repeating it back to them in different words. It’s an active listening technique that shows you’re paying attention.
· Take actionable steps. Listening to a complaint is a great first step, but if you want to show employees that you are serious, it’s important to take actionable steps to resolve the complaint. Even simple actions, like holding a meeting we’re making a tweak to an existing policy, can make employees feel validated.
· Explain your reasoning (when appropriate). If you aren’t taking action as a result of the complaint, or if you feel the concern is not valid, explain your reasoning transparently (if possible). You may be able to assuage them without invalidating the concern itself.
You may take a slightly different approach, depending on your organizational culture and your management style. That’s perfectly acceptable, and your employees will likely find it acceptable as well. As long as you’re taking employees seriously, and you’re making a sincere effort to create the best possible workspace, you’re going to end up with a much happier and much more productive staff.