Every year, the PROTECH workforce and leadership surveys offer insight into workforce trends, including motivating factors for job seekers. No matter what a candidate may answer as their reason for leaving or considering new roles, it always boils down to one simple thing: happiness.
Happiness is critical to any relationship, whether business or romantic. If a vendor continues to cause problems or if your SaaS software provider has frequent outages, you might start to look elsewhere for alternative products and services. Same with the cost – even if you’re happy with how a product or service performs day-to-day, if you learn there are competitors with more cost-effective offerings, well, you might start to feel unhappy with the product – even if it works just fine for your needs. In romantic relationships, one partner beginning to feel the twinges of unhappiness is usually a sign of the beginning of the end.
Yet, when it comes to the workplace, employers may not value happiness as an important part of the equation. Employers may view their staff more transactionally (i.e. they’re paying for someone’s time in return for work contribution) and forget they are after all, human… In some areas, where there is a plethora of interested and available workers, this mindset doesn’t as visibly affect a company – turnover might even be expected and built into the business model. In tech, however, where the talent many times is in high-demand and short supply, happiness among the ranks will keep your talent working for you – and not your competitor.
Contrary to popular thought, you can’t buy loyalty – or happiness – with team-building events, happy hours, or free snacks. Instead, here’s how you can build happiness – and retention – within in your teams.
Help Build a Career Path
One of the main reasons employees leave is they don’t see any opportunity to grow. Feeling stagnant is a terrible feeling, and one that drives employees to leave. The best way to get them to stay? Ask about career goals/path in your next meeting with your reports. Managers love asking about 5-year goals in interviews, but when it comes to helping employees meet those goals, they often simply forget or are too busy with their own tasks to worry about an employee finding their happiness. As a manager, if you want to keep your team engaged and happy – communicate! Sometimes it’s something simple they want to learn or do – and by showing you have an interest in their career path, they’ll likely come to you first before seeking a new role.
In larger organizations that allow internal transfers/promotions, talk to your team about other roles and opportunities within the company so that you can learn what might motivate them. Although you might not enjoy losing a valued team member to another team, you’ll have the benefit of still having the employee in the company to help train and mentor the new hire. Keeping retention rates high will also look good for you as the manager.
Ensure Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance is a term people love to use, but what does it really mean? As a manager, it’s important to understand that work-life balance can mean different things for different employees – especially when it comes to offering perks. For the employee that commutes an hour each way, offering them the benefit of flex-hours might be a huge work-life balance perk, while the employee that works next to the office might not benefit from the same perk and instead might prefer one day a week working from home. Work-life balance is simply making sure your employees have the right mix of work and lifestyle that suits their needs, and adjusting the perks accordingly. The next time you need your team to stay late mid-week, send them home early on Friday. You’ll feel like a superhero and your team will remember you as a manager that respects their time.
Help with Education/On-Going Training
We talked about certifications and whether or not they were a waste of money in a previous blog, and the consensus was they were a good investment in your team. Sure, you might lose a qualified – and certified – expert, but by training your own internal team and certifying them, you’re also saving a lot of money in the recruiting costs associated with finding and hiring already-certified pros. Providing opportunities to brush up on skills through further education and training will be something your teams will appreciate. One of the most common reasons I hear for someone beginning a job search is they are beginning to feel stagnant or even falling behind on their technology.
As a manager, what tips do you have to improve happiness (and retention) among the ranks?