When it Comes to Employee Retention, the “Little Things” Matter

In friendship and love, the “little things” often make a big difference. A smile, a door opened or a kind word can go a long way toward building a relationship. Conversely, a snide remark or an unreturned phone call can undermine the bond between you and another person.

The “little things” matter in employment relationships, too. Seemingly small slights like:

  • Leaving a co-worker out of an email loop (when the information would’ve been helpful to him)
  • Mispronouncing an established employee’s name
  • Rolling your eyes when a team member shares a potential solution to a problem…can lead to big problems with your business.

As a manager, you send dozens of powerful “micromessages” every time you speak or gesture. While an employee may dismiss the occasional perceived snub as insignificant, over time these messages have a cumulative effect.

And with massive talent shortages on the horizon, you need to be aware of the little things that can drive your best people out the door. Use these tips from our York employment agency to make sure your verbal and non-verbal communications are positive and motivating:

  • Acknowledge that the little things matter. Spend a few minutes during your next meeting letting employees know that you take your management practices seriously – and that their satisfaction with you is important.
  • Find out what sets employees off. Not sure what bothers your employees? Distribute a simple, anonymous survey to gather feedback. Look for evidence of negative, dismissive or negligent patterns of behavior that need to be addressed.
  • Train your supervisors. Training is a great way to make managers more aware (and more in control) of unconscious behaviors that demoralize your staff. Have your team role-play situations demonstrating both attentive/supportive management behaviors and dismissive/negative ones. Ask managers to make notes of the verbal and non-verbal messages they see, and then use those as a starting point for follow-up training. The goal of this training should be to make supervisors more aware of how and what they’re subtly communicating to their team, every day – and how to make those communications more positive.
  • Make positive messaging routine. Once your managers are more aware of “the little things” that matter to employees, brainstorm ways to keep verbal and non-verbal communications positive. Make a list of small actions supervisors can take each day to keep employees motivated. Help them habitualize activities like: making direct eye contact; encouraging participation from all employees; communicating interest nonverbally; asking questions to develop rapport; recognizing the contributions of all workers.

On their own, little positive gesture like these may seem insignificant. In time, however, they’ll produce a giant return on investment – improving employee retention, and creating a more engaged workforce that is motivated to perform for you.

Posted on Berks and Beyond