Employee retention and motivation will always be challenges that face businesses and organisations. They have always been an issue, but never more so than today. When our parents’ generation were going into the workplace they got a job for life, perhaps changing once or twice if they were ambitious.
Climbing the corporate ladder
They would start at the entry level position and move up through the organisation, slowly becoming indoctrinated into its culture and shaped by the company’s values. There was absolutely nothing wrong with this, and it made human resources' life very easy. But times have changed.
Over the last decade or so it has become accepted practice to move jobs every few years in order to seek a better salary or job title. This has been heightened by constant calls and adverts from recruiters and online job boards telling us to follow our dreams and achieve our potential.
Job for life no longer applies
In fact, according to research from The Resolution Foundation the average tenure in a role has declined to 64 months or just over 5 years – hardly a job for life. To some this may still feel like a lifetime, but for large organisations this presents a challenge. How do they continue to motivate and retain their employees so they keep their best talent?
Financial rewards are obviously one way to motivate your team, and a very powerful carrot to dangle, but not all organisations can afford to keep giving pay raises and bonuses.
As someone who started their career working in the extraordinarily competitive world of banking and finance I was always a little shocked and surprised at how easily employees would up and leave, as if they had no loyalty to the organisation that had given them their job.
Employers need to play their part to motivate
But then it occurred to me that they were not totally to blame and that the company also had a responsibility to meet their employees’ personal goals as well as their own corporate goals. Employees want to work in a place where they feel they belong, where they feel they are considered as an individual and where they are more than a payroll number.
This is far easier to say than to do. But I have been both impressed and inspired by a few enlightened organisations who are clearly bridging the gap between their business objectives and employees personal goals.
These companies are being more innovative and creative with the employee benefits they offer. Discounts and flexible benefits are taken as a given, but there are organisations out there who allow their employees to recognise their colleagues by giving awards or gifts and then telling everyone what a great job they are doing.
Getting this sort of recognition from their peers not only makes the individual feel appreciated, but also motivates them. Providing employees with a service, such as a travel or an exclusive ticketing service also makes them feel special and helps them feel like they are part of a company that cares about life outside the office.
Organisations are very focused on "engaging" with their employees and telling them to "engage" with the business as a way of maintaining loyalty. What does that actually mean?
In my experience, companies with the most productive and motivated teams build a community with sense of belonging. The world is changing and employees are no longer looking for a job for life, but they are looking for job satisfaction. Organisations should be looking to deliver that in more ways than a monthly salary - they need to innovate and look to the future.