Careers

How Managers Can Hold Onto Workers And Keep Them Happy And Motivated In A Hot Job Market


The job market is heating up. The recent U.S jobs report was weaker than expected because companies couldn’t find enough people to fill their open roles. For over the last year, people have been sheltering in their jobs. They were holding tight and waiting out the pandemic. 

With millions of Americans vaccinated, states reopening and the economy flooded with money from federal government’s stimulus programs, things are starting to look optimistic. It’s getting so good that studies show one out of four people will switch jobs this year. 

Managers need to get ahead of this. If they don’t take care of their people, they’ll lose the best and brightest. That’s how it usually happens. The A-players are the first ones to get poached by competitors. When the top performers leave, everyone else wonders what’s going on and thinks about why they should stick around. They’ll be open to hearing about new opportunities and leave if a good job offer comes along.

It’s going to be tough for managers, as they’ll be dealing with a hybrid work schedule, in which some people will be in the office two or three days per week and a large number remotely. It’s easy for the folks working at home to spend their days surfing job boards, networking and conducting Zoom interviews without noisy co-workers in the next cubicle noticing or eavesdropping on calls from recruiters.

Here’s what management needs to do to retain and motivate talent:

Treat People With Respect And Dignity

Consult with your staff to find out what type of work they feel comfortable with. Do they prefer in-office, remote or a combination of the two? We’ve seen over the pandemic that the work day doesn’t have to be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ask how they’d like to arrange their day. It might be uncomfortable, but check in to see how they are feeling. Have they been dealing with mental health issues or burnout? If so, offer to provide help or direction to healthcare experts.

Make Employees Feel Wanted And Part Of The Family

It’s well-known that people stay with a company longer if they have a close network of friends and allies. With a large portion of the workforce operating from home, it’s possible that relationships may be weakened. If your besties are scattered across the country working remotely, you may lose out on the daily interactions that made work more tolerable.

Smart managers should set plans to ensure that employees can easily engage with one another. There could be Friday afternoon virtual happy hours, birthday parties and congratulatory meetups to celebrate wins. Use Slack, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams or other means to keep people connected. 

Pay Well

You can do great things for people, but if you don’t pay them well or offer good benefits, they’ll eventually leave. In a bad job market, employees will grin and bear the bad paychecks, as they’re just happy to have a job. Once the market improves, all bets are off. As they hear of other people making more money at competing companies, they’ll grow resentful and feel taken advantage of. The same holds true for offering a lackluster benefits plan.

In the long run, it’s less expensive to pay well. You’ll keep the star players. Everyone will feel more motivated and work harder, as they’ll believe they’ll be rewarded for their performance.

When people leave, there is a high cost involved. It’s both time and money. The company needs to place ads online and retain recruiting firms that charge about 20% of the candidate’s salary to bring on someone new. There is time and effort put forth by a large number of employees to trudge through the interview process. They need to conduct three to 10 interviews over several months, involving a lot of people interviewing and coordinating the process. 

Once a person onboards, they’ll need training and handholding to get up to speed. This takes up time away from the supervisor and co-workers doing their own jobs. There is a chance that the new person won’t be as good as the one who left. It’s probable that since it’s a hotter job market, the company would pay more for the incumbent than the person who left.

Growth, Meaning And Purpose

Now, more than ever, people desire to work in jobs and careers that offer meaning and a sense of purpose. They want to feel that they are making a difference in the world. Gen-Z and younger Millennials are especially passionate about working at a place that shares their same views on social and political issues. It’s important to offer a way to help people achieve these aspirations. If it’s not through the actual work, it could be via corporate-sponsored volunteer and philanthropic activities. 

Managers should regularly check in with their staff to see how they are doing. Remember to offer congratulations on a job well done, a pat on the back and point out their achievement in front of colleagues. You want to make sure that they feel appreciated and valued. 

Make sure that your directions are clear and reasonable. Ask your team if they have a work-life balance. If not, what could be done to improve the situation? 

What Is Going On Around Here?

Oftentimes, workers are left in the dark. They think that they are the last to know what’s going on. This leaves them feeling abandoned, unimportant and lost. It’s imperative that management shares their vision of where the company is going and how everyone will get there. Each person should know what’s expected of them and how they can achieve and exceed goals and expectations.

Ensure that people feel part of the decision-making process. Ask for input and ideas. Encourage people to share their thoughts, even if they diverge from the corporate narrative. Don’t manage by talking down to people and barking orders. Allow free and open conversations—even if it gets a little uncomfortable.

Toss Out Toxic People

There will always be a few malcontents and jerks. Even with the best hiring practices, some questionable characters will make it through. If a person continues to violate social norms of respect and decency on a number of occasions, managers need to act quickly. The longer they allow a person to act in a toxic manner, the more it alienates everyone else. They’ll wonder and get mad over why no one is doing anything about the troublemaker. 

It’s best practice to speak with the offender, set parameters and swiftly terminate them— if they don’t change their ways. If you don’t do this, people will feel demotivated, unhappy and soon leave.

Managers Should Know How To Manage

In sports, it’s common for a former all-star to move into a manager role once their career is over. The owner of a baseball team may have the erroneous belief that just because a ballplayer was a great slugger and had an outstanding career, he’ll make a great coach or manager. 

The same holds true at corporations. A person who excels in her job is promoted to a managerial role. Most, if not all of the time, there isn’t any training for the newly minted manager. Executives just believe that because the person was a rockstar in their previous role, they’ll be a terrific manager. It’s a fallacy. 

The skills that made a person a super successful salesperson may not translate over to managing. They are used to schmoozing and selling and not the unglamorous tasks of scheduling meetings, setting agendas and working out all of the little details needed to run a department. This is kind of similar to the “Peter Principle,” which says that people keep rising in an organization until they finally land into a job that they are completely incapable of doing effectively.

Companies need to train, coach and offer continued assistance to managers to ensure that not only are they meeting their objectives, but taking care of their staff and not alienating or abusing them.

Trust your team. Give them responsibilities that they could do and also offer some challenges to help them grow. Be a cheerleader. Encourage them to learn new things and take chances without worrying about being thrown under the bus if things go wrong. Set a path for them to move up the corporate ladder. Always remember to show and demonstrate that you care.

 



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