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by Laurie Murphy | March 31, 2009

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Conversation overheard in a local eatery? Could these be YOUR employees?

Employee #1:
"I think I am going to quit. I can't believe that my boss just hired a temp that he is allowing to work from home two days a week, when he had refused my request to be allowed to work from home only one day a week on a short-term basis. It's not fair -- why won't he give me any flexibility?"

Employee#2:
"Yeah, management just doesn't get it. If a customer has a problem, they demand that we help them solve it, but if we have problems we are on our own. How can we help customers solve their problems when we can't even solve our own?"

Employees today are faced with increasing professional and personal pressures and many employers are either not aware of and/or not prepared to deal with them. Especially in times of economic downturn, employers need to expand their awareness and support for their employees' needs or face potentially severe consequences.

Even if it is not intentional, a perceived lack of dedication to employees' needs will likely adversely impact loyalty and retention, not only among employees but also among customers. Surveys have shown a strong correlation between employee satisfaction/retention levels and customer satisfaction/retention. These most admired companies also perform better for their shareholders.

How is your company performing? What can you do to improve?

  • First, and foremost, get to know your employees better. Talk to them. Find out their professional goals as well as their personal interests, and let them know you are interested in helping them to find satisfaction in their work and to balance their work/life needs.
  • Give employees the flexibility they need to meet their needs. The majority of employees will reward you with greater loyalty and commitment, rather than abuse the situation (which many managers unnecessarily fear).
  • Ask for employee suggestions as to how their needs could be met. Often the employee will know what would work best and the solution will not be very complicated. Remember, you are not expected to have all the answers but you will be expected to be compassionate and reasonable.
  • Be equitable in your treatment of employees. It doesn't mean you have to do exactly the same thing for everyone, but you need to commit to doing what is within reason for each individual. Consider the comparable nature of situations and decisions and how they might be likely to be regarded by employees.
  • If you utilize temporary contractors at your work location, be aware that you may be expected to make similar accommodations for employees to the ones afforded to the contractors. For example, if you allow contractors to work from home, your employees will likely expect the same opportunity.
  • Get professional help. If your company does not offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to employees, consider obtaining these professional services. Typically, they are very low in cost per employee and they offer great service by providing professionals to help address issues that could otherwise create much larger problems for both management and employees if this assistance was not available. Employees in companies with EAPs tend to view their employers as being more concerned with their well-being. The cost of the service is a small price to pay for the increased productivity, loyalty, and retention it is likely to generate.

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Filed Under: Workplace Issues

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