How to Revitalize Morale After a Period of High Staff Turnover

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Credit: Shutterstock / Roman Samborskyi

How to unite our team, adapt our performance management systems and revitalize morale after a bout of intense turnover.

Although we all aim to hold on to our employees, despite our best efforts, we might experience a period of high turnover. This turnover may have been necessary for the overall benefit of the company, but this doesn’t mean your business won’t be negatively impacted. The effects of high employee turnover are far reaching and are not limited to the recruitment costs of having to find appropriate replacements.

Employees want security, and when there are people constantly coming and going, you start to feel like your company has just become a revolving door, which seriously damages morale. Of course, your remaining employees will likely have to pick up the slack created by the high turnover, which will put them under undue strain.

High turnover also impairs future recruitment efforts, regardless of whether employees leave voluntarily or are dismissed. If you are too quick to fire an employee, candidates will steer clear. If employees leave of their own volition, potential recruits might assume they are doing so because they are unhappy with the organization, or there are better companies and opportunities to explore.

So how can we unite our team, adapt our performance management systems, and revitalize morale after a bout of intense turnover?

Make a point of acknowledging effort and performance

At this time, your employees might feel insecure about their performance. To improve morale, clearly prioritize employee recognition. Hold regular monthly performance discussions with your employees, and during this time, be sure to focus on what has gone right. Congratulate your employees on their successes. If they have put a lot of effort into a given project, acknowledge this.

Remember: employee recognition seriously impacts morale, and people who receive gratitude are much more productive. In psychological terms, recognition can powerfully impact employee behavior, as it engages their brain in a “virtuous cycle.” You don’t need to spend a lot of company money to appreciate great performance, but if you fail to make the effort, it is unlikely that morale will improve.

Find out what your employees want

If you have lost a lot of people and you’re not sure why, it’s probably because your former employees weren’t satisfied with your company, or they were able to find a better alternative. At this point, you need to make an effort to retain your existing talent and keep them happy. Find out what you could be doing differently, or how they would change existing processes.

You might discover that your company requires a radical overhaul. Has your business failed to move with the times? Do you have backwards attitudes towards flexibility? Are you respecting your employees and allowing them a degree of autonomy? Are you constantly micromanaging? Do you actively encourage development and provide clear routes of progression, or do your employees feel there is no way for them to advance and grow? Consider all of these points, and begin to address them to ensure a more forward-thinking business, in an effort to encourage high levels of morale. 

Show your employees that their work matters

With so many people coming and going, your employees need to know that they are valued and what they do matters to the company. This is why transparency is so important to business. Share the company’s goals with your employees and show how the work they are doing contributes to the company’s long-term success. Nobody wants to feel superfluous, and at this time of uncertainty, it is your job to show your workforce that they are part of a well-functioning team.

If you can’t increase salary, increase perks

In a survey that explored the best means to retain staff, it was shown that the most effective method was a salary increase. Of course, for budgetary reasons, this might not always be possible. If this is the case, your business should look into introducing perks in other forms. Examples include casual Fridays, flexi-time, half-day Fridays, telecommuting options or hosting social events outside the office.

Work on communication

Communication is of the utmost importance during any organizational change. Prioritize great communication both horizontally and vertically throughout the business.

To facilitate the exchange of feedback and to encourage the development of manager-employee relationships, consider implementing more regular performance management discussions. Frequent discussions have been listed as a top performance management tool which can seriously boost workplace communication and feedback exchange. Top companies around the world have taken note and abandoned their annual performance appraisals in favor of regular check-ins as a result.

Equally, social networking and trust-building between employees should be emphasized. With so many people leaving and new faces added to the mix, social networks are disrupted and your workforce might start to feel like they’re simply a group of strangers working alongside one another, as opposed to a cohesive team. This doubtlessly detracts from morale. Research different team building exercises that encourage communication and consider throwing a lunch office party or two to get your new teammates acquainted.

Organizational changes like downsizing or high turnover certainly have an impact on an organization, and recovery can take a while. It won’t happen overnight, but as long as you appreciate your existing employees and you make efforts to improve employee experience, you will be rewarded with a happier and more productive team.

Stuart Hearn

Stuart Hearn has twenty years of experience in the HR sector. He co-founded plusHR, a leading UK HR consultancy, and previously worked as International HR Director for Sony Music Publishing. Stuart is currently CEO of Clear Review, an innovative performance management software system.

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