The last nearly two years allowed for employees to question what they want for themselves, the organizations they work for, and the world. While we can certainly keep hiring additional people to fill the gaps, it’s significantly more cost effective to keep the top talent you already have.
So, how do we do that? Gone are the days where ping pong tables and free meals could convince employees to stay. Now, we need to strike a balance between attracting and retaining top talent while creating space for growth and innovation. We not only need to show employees that we value them, but also communicate it in a way in which they perceive they are being valued.
Importance of showing value
How we perceive value is shaped by a myriad of experiences and situations, and often changes as time passes. We may think we’re showing an employee they’re valued by giving them a pay raise, when in fact, they value the time spent with their coach and mentor learning new things instead.
We all know by now that the top reason why employees leave companies is because of their manager. As the cliche saying goes, people don’t quit their job, they quit their boss. What if we can improve the relationship between the manager and the employee by helping them understand how they each show and perceive value? Inspired by Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages, there are ways to determine a leader’s preferred way of showing appreciation towards employees, as well as how employees want to be valued.
By giving everyone a common communication framework to work from, we can better appreciate one another.
Improving an employee’s sense of being valued
First, we need to identify all the different ways we can show an employee we value them. There are five categories of ways to show value, with each one stemming from a different need:
Time is one of the most valuable resources, simply because it is non-renewable. How someone spends this limited resource shows what or who they care about. What kind of signal does it send to employees if you constantly reschedule one-on-ones? It can feel as if they’re not significant, not valued, so it’s important to spend time with your employees.
Rewards are tangible. It is something that employees can grasp the value of for them to better understand their value to you. For example, this can be in the form of paying them a fair salary, giving a performance bonus, buying gifts of appreciation or allowing them to work on special projects of their interest.
Recognition comes in many forms, but ultimately you are telling your employees that you’re paying attention to them. Whether it’s giving them the job title they deserve, formal public recognition where others can celebrate with them or a private show of gratitude, it’s important to let your employees know they’re having a positive impact on the business. While it may be considered minor, take the time to thank your employees. Not only does this improve the morale of your employees, expressing gratitude increases your happiness as well.
Help is difficult to ask for sometimes, but we can’t do it all ourselves. Your team wants your expertise. One way of showing your employees you value them is to help them get better and be more successful. Help them remove roadblocks or set up a career growth plan. Be their champion.
Connection is something that we as humans crave according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. A great way to show someone you value them is by caring about what they care about. For instance, learning the names of family members and pets shows that you are listening. Your employees are looking for an emotional connection and a sense of belonging. Show your employees that you value the camaraderie between the two of you.
Next, we need to determine how each employee perceives value and educate leaders on how to best show appreciation for each individual employee. For example, at Crux OCM, we’ve designed a program called Find Your Value, where everyone answers a set of questions to help achieve this. With this initiative, the goal is to improve employee engagement and maintain our high employee retention. To replicate this in your own work environment, you can start by asking your employees how their manager recognizes them for good performance or a job well done and take note of what they perceive as recognition. Taking it a step further, you can then compare these answers with their manager’s recollection of what was done to determine if there is a mismatch of showing and perceiving value.
It’s important to apply ways of showing value as often as possible and express appreciation towards employees in a way they understand best. As a manager, if your primary method of recognizing your employees differs from how they want to be valued, ask your employees how they want to be recognized and create a list of alternative methods and strategies you can use in the future. For example, if you default to giving a performance bonus for a job well done, but your employee wants more quality time with you instead, you should make an effort to have regular effective one-on-ones.
It’s all a balancing act. While some employees may normally prefer public recognition for their efforts, they may also appreciate a monetary performance bonus from time to time. Another employee may need an emotional connection with their manager to stay engaged, but maybe this time they would like a special interest project to work on instead. While being able to identify an employee’s primary value can be helpful, we need to remember not to neglect other areas.
By treating everyone as individuals with individual needs, we can more effectively show our employees that they matter. We can all do better to help our employees see how valuable they are to our organizations.