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Do you know what your employees want?

strategic move of any employer should be to retain employees when they are still willing to stay, rather than only catching a wake-up call when they start to leave or have resigned. According to an article published by Business Tech, “Over half of young South African professionals are unhappy in their jobs and are looking to change employers within the next 12 months.” 

Gone are the days where an employee is loyal to an organisation if the employer is not coming to the party. Employees are no longer sceptical or scared of looking for other job opportunities, even if it is abroad. In fact, if you talk to a lot of young professionals in South Africa, they prefer a company that can give them a global career path. Be that as it may, there is a lot an employer can do to keep their talent.

How to spot if your employees are unhappy in their jobs?

If you are a manager or executive, you will start realising your employees are dissatisfied with their jobs if:

  • Employees continuously complain. 
  • Absenteeism has increased suddenly.
  • Their quality of work and productivity have decreased.
  • They have a negative and demotivated attitude towards tasks.
  • They don’t want to engage or stop communicating with their peers.
  • They show hostility or anger towards management.
  • Customer complaints start increasing.
  • Their body language like slouched shoulders, depressing tone of voice, sighing often etc. are all indicators that your employees are unhappy.  

Fin24 reported on a survey conducted by Universum SA during 2019, indicating that employees wanted job security,  and that the “talent pool are looking for professional training and development, leadership opportunities, inspiring leaders and ethics in the workplace.” Hrexecutive.com commented on a separate survey in the U.S in April 2019, that “What’s clear from the results is that employees seek purposeful work and want benefits that address their individual needs and common stressors, which tend to revolve around not having enough time or money.” Out of these two surveys, we focus on the below key focus areas.

Give your employees what they want. 8 Key Focus areas.

Employees want to work for an organisation that cares for them and offers solutions to their individual needs. Employers need to think holistically about what employees want and get a strategy going on how to do it. Consider these 8 key focus areas:

  • Listen to your employees. Everyone has different needs. For people to be happy in an organisation and who have true job satisfaction, employers need to identify what they as management do right and what they need to improve on. This can only be done if employees give feedback and talk to their management teams. Have an open-door policy and communicate frequently with your employees. This will not only help solve future problems but will also help identify early warning signs of job dissatisfaction.
  • Flexibility. Employers and careers that offer flexibility bear a lot of weight in job satisfaction. Listen to your employees and give them flexibility, especially in the current situation where Covid-19 abruptly changed the workplace. Fine-tune key performance indicators based on the employee’s output and not on input.
  • Professional Training and Development. Employees, especially the young talent entering the market, are looking for companies where they can grow personally and professionally. They want to learn and crave the opportunity to develop their skills.  Employers should consider implementing regular training opportunities in things like personal masteryself-developmenttime and stress managementeffective communicationleadership etc.
  • Be an employer your employees can count on. Easier said than done, and yes anything can happen, but your employees still need to know that you are a strong, steadfast organisation that wants to grow and prosper. Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. Focus on always reassuring your employees and communicate your winning strategy frequently.
  • Innovate and be open to change. Show them that you are a motivated organisation that is not afraid of being innovative and that you are able to change with the times. Be open to their ideas and try new things.
  • Create trust and leadership opportunities. Display trust in your employees by giving them a chance to lead. Develop and implement leadership programmes and create platforms where your talent can shine in leadership positions. If they know that there are promotions or growth opportunities for them, they are more likely to stay.
  • Be honest and authentic. Be real! Be ethical! Have a moral rule book and don’t stand for things like corruption, discrimination, inequality etc. Employees want to be associated with a company that is fair across the board, that they are proud of and can trust. 
  • Create purposeful work. Employees want to feel like they are changing the world. That they are making a difference. Create an understanding among them that what they do, matters. Show them the results of what they have accomplished. For example, if you work for an armed response company, release stats and comments by customers whom your organisation helped, even to the admin staff. This will give a sense of belonging and make your employees feel that their jobs are worthwhile. 

It is equally important that both employer and employee understand each other. Employers need to trust their company’s leadership to cultivate a happier workforce. Management teams who create a family culture within the company show their talent that they are committed to their growth and development, that they care about them and what they do matters. Start with the leadership and work downward to help retain your talent from the start.