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February 16. 2013 2:48AM

Christopher Thompson's Closing the Deal: Keep employees engaged and they'll be more likely to stay


 

For almost every company, the single most valuable asset they have is their employees. It's not a patent. It's not a product. It's not their property. It's the people that make the company what it is. If this is true, then why do so many companies struggle with the basic concept of keeping their employees happy?

Unhappy employees and low morale are the root cause of a long list of problems companies face and deal with every day. From reduced productivity to attrition, it's also extremely costly for companies.

It is extremely expensive to hire, train and get new employees fully ramped up and productive. It costs a lot less to keep the people you have happy than it does to recruit new ones. There are a lot of talented people in every company, and it's very common to overlook those people and have them leave due to factors that the company has complete control over.

I can't tell you how many people I know who are extremely talented in what they do, but end up leaving a company due to the fact that they were miserable. It's unfortunate, but it happens everywhere. And oftentimes, they end up quitting because of the leadership in the organization, not the job itself. As the saying goes, people don't quit companies, they quit managers.

The other interesting thing about keeping people happy is that it's not very complicated and hard to do. It's actually very simple. All it takes is some common sense, a little planning and some basic management skills. Here are a few suggestions on ways you can keep people in your organization motivated, productive and loyal.

-- Recognize people: Recognition is the cheapest, easiest and most effective way to keep people happy and feeling good about what they do. Everyone loves to be recognized for doing a good job. Having an effective recognition strategy doesn't have to be complicate and expensive. It's all about how people are recognized, not necessarily what they receive for the recognition. Make sure the recognition is fair and consistent and look for people to recognize that may not get the credit they deserve.

-- Make people feel involved: Good managers and leaders include people in decisions and solicit feedback from people on their team. There is nothing worse than having decisions made in a vacuum. Along with making people feel like they don't matter, it can also negatively influence the outcome of the decision. Find the talent within your organization and utilize people to their fullest potential.

-- Challenge: People love to be challenged. There aren't many people who are looking to do the smallest amount of work. People feel good when they are making a difference. If you have people in your organization whose talent is being underutilized, there is a good chance they won't be there long.

At the end of the day, people stay with companies because they feel good about what they are doing and who they are working for. When companies fail to effectively stimulate and engage talented people, they will leave the organization. It's something I see as a major challenge for many companies and managers.

Christopher Thompson (cthompson@catch22solutions.com) writes Closing the Deal weekly for the Sunday News.


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