Leadership Within – Retaining Employees

What do they need?

Employees cite a large number of reasons for leaving their employment, so its equally important to the retention conversation to discuss why your employees may stay.

In every workplace across North America, there are both internal and external forces which influence our retention rates for our employees. External factors may include: Employment/unemployment rates, wage ranges for similar skill-based industries, available market size for skills in a particular discipline, Brand of competitors (employ-ability), and factors such as cost of living. Internal factors are directly within your control. They are the conditions you create that lead to employee success.

In 1943, Abraham Maslow created the psychological Hierarchy of Needs scale. It is a powerful tool which clearly underscores the core psychological needs of an individual, if they are to achieve full self potential. This scale was however, not quite the same for the business world, so I redeveloped the psychological needs scale as follows, to illustrate the requirements for the professional employee.

At the base is the core requirement of any employee. As we move up the steps the needs that are identified are required prior to moving up to the second, third, fourth and fifth levels of connection and empowerment that allows the employee to achieve.

The base is the Employee Core Needs. Every employee needs to know that they can make enough money to feed, clothe and house themselves. If they do not make this core level of pay you will lose them to another employer who will take care of this need. In addition to pay, the employee also needs to have a sense of purpose (why they are doing their job) and be professionally communicated with. This means not yelled at, or belittled; treated with respect and consideration that they are a key attribute of your business.

Once this need is met, we move to Employee Safety. Safety has two facets: Psychological and Physical. Psychological safety comes from elements of the relationships such as having a stable workplace where; if you do a good job you are respected for that, you share trust such as you and your employee “have each others back” if things go sideways. You are working as a team that can trust (see our coming post about Trustworthiness) each other and finally, physically, the workplace is safe to be in. You are not forcing your team to abandon safety equipment or shirk off safety rules. You take care of the safety of the workplace.

 The Third Tier, Social Needs regards the way that management and the team interact with each other. Ensuring that no one staff person overrides another (unless a supervisor), allocating credit where it is really due, working together in a way that everyone feels valued. These are all elements of Social Needs that empower your team to build cohesion and leads to greater retention of staff.

The Fourth Tier are Ego Needs. This means the ability to shine as an employee is built into your system. Fulfilling the ego needs of your team members is quite simple: praise them in public in a sincere and specific say. Acknowledge when they do a good job, encourage them to continue to do so, and make sure they know when they are doing things right. Ego Needs are never awarded at the expense of other team members, it is a way to lift your team members up and demonstrate that “these are the types of results we want to see.”

The final Tier is Hope. There must be some future state where the employee feels like all the work is worth it, where they will be recognized, promoted or have future career growth as a result of the hard work they deliver. If you experience turnover beyond the first year, this could be the pinch point. Most employees will deliver results for you, until they realize that there is nothing waiting for them later: no reward, either real or perceived.

Therefore: if your employees are paid competitive wages, work in a safe environment, are treated well and feel like they are part of the team, are told they do well and encouraged, all while having a future state to aspire to; your retention rate will go up, satisfaction will increase, and you will achieve a higher level of workforce magic that makes others want to join your team.