Keeping employees and avoiding turnover has never been easy. There is no difference based on the amount of employees. Whether it’s a few dozen or a few hundred, trying to maintain and upkeep employee happiness takes dedication, persistence, and one strong cup of coffee (maybe two or three cups, if we’re being honest).

You don’t want to be a bad boss, but you don’t want to have the reputation of a pushover. Trying to find the happy medium with a workplace full of different personalities who require different sources of motivation can be challenging. This may seem overwhelming, but with the right adjustments, you and your team can be back on track.

Step 1: The Core

You were selected to be a leader because of your management skills. Having great management skills is extremely helpful for managing a team, but there are skills needed beyond that. It’s no rumor that employees often leave jobs because of management issues. The less turnover your company has, the better.  If you are noticing unhappy employees/an increase in turnover, it may be time to check on your other workplace skills. Important skills in a authority position includes:

  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Analytical
  • Technological

Consistently working to improve these skills will help you better manage a team. The better your communication skills are, the better you can manage your employees (happy employees, happy companies).

Looking into the types of leadership styles may also help the workplace mood. Since your staff team is made up of a variety of personalities, using a variety of leadership styles catered to each personality will lead to better communication. The most common types of leadership styles include:

  • Transformational
  • Charismatic
  • Servant
  • Democratic
  • Autocratic
  • Transactional
  • Laissez-faire
  • Bureaucratic
  • Situational

For projects you want your employees to be highly involved in, using servant leadership is ideal. For projects you require little to no employee involvement, use autocratic leadership to set boundaries and rules in a professional matter. Implementing a variety of leadership styles can show your workplace flexibility and ability to adapt to different situations.

Step 2: The Employees

After making adjustments to your management styles, start to analyze how your employees interact with you. Are they happier? More productive?

There are several ways to increase employee satisfaction without breaking the bank. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the orientation process helpful? Does it need to be revamped?
  • Does the workplace have an overall positive environment?
  • Are employees engaged with their work?
  • Does the workplace have at least one outside company event per year?

If any of your answers are “no,” begin working to make adjustments to make the answer a “yes.” If this means planning a company weekend event or bringing in a specialist to talk about workplace health and positivity, that may be your next company move.

Checking in with your employees every now and then helps your staff feel more comfortable. Ask your assistant how their weekend was. Ask a team member how their new car is. Simple, work-appropriate questions like this show you have listening skills, and care about your employees outside life.

Consider who you are hiring too. Do not just hire to fill a spot quickly. When trying to fill a new position, take your time. If you hire too quickly, you may end up with a bad employee and be back to square one. While employees generate income for the company, they also cost money. Making bad hires cost money. When you hire a star employee, current employees can be motivated by the new person aboard.

Another tip is to evaluate how much work you are assigning one person. Do your employees look overwhelmed? Are they falling behind? Before assigning several tasks to a employee, consider how long the task will take. If it requires a hefty amount of detail and time, assign that task only, or make sure it is a priority to complete first.

Asking your staff to multitask several assignments at once reduces your workplace productivity. If employees are often overwhelmed with the amount of work they must complete, it is likely they will look for a new employer (sooner or later).

Step 3: The Office

As cliché as it sounds, emailing an office satisfaction survey will help you recieve real data from your staff. Some suggestions with a scale from 1-10 are:

  • How comfortable are you in your department?
  • How familiar are you with other employees?
  • Do you find your task assignments overwhelming? (1 being easy, 10 being extremely difficult)

Also adding in open-ended questions lets your employees put together their thoughts. Questions to use can include:

  • What changes would you make to your department?
  • Is there anything that could use an immediate change?
  • Are there any suggestions for your peers, coworkers, manager, etc.?

It is important that you keep the survey anonymous. If you want real answers, protecting your employees’ privacy is crucial. Employees might be afraid to speak their piece and opinion on matters about their job if their name is attached to the survey. Finding out what your employees need from you is what can help prevent turnover. If you do not know what is turning away employees, how can you expect to improve?

Another idea that is fun for everyone is supplying office snacks. Everyone is welcome to chat around, socialize, and be able to speak to higher-level management in a more relaxed environment. Employees can familiarize new faces they otherwise would not see during a normal business day. How often the snack session occurs depends on your company budget, time, space, and so on. Try planning the snack hour at least once a month.

Lastly, do not forget to recognize outstanding performance by your employees. If you see a employee go above and beyond, write their name on a ticket and throw it in a jar. Once a month, pull a few tickets out and have prizes for the winners to select. Gift cards and gift baskets are office appropriate gifts. Who doesn’t love recognition for their work? Having a little extra motivation never hurt anyone.

Implementing new practices into the office can make a difference. What might work for some employees may not work for others. Trial and error may be necessary to figure out what is most effective for your workplace. Starting with the three steps is a great way to tackle employee turnover.

To simplify the three steps:

  1. If you are in a management position, practice learning the different leadership styles. Don’t be afraid to switch it up every now and then.
  2. Become familiar with your employees. Learn names and ask what fun weekend plans they have coming up.
  3. Purchase incentives to reward employees for outstanding work that goes above and beyond wages.

Seeking an improvement in employee turnover won’t happen overnight. It may take a few weeks or possibly a couple months to see any changes. So if you’re feeling a little unmotivated, just remember: happy employees, happy companies.
By Noah Rue

About the author

Noah Rue is a writer, a digital nomad, an ESL teacher, and an all around good dude, if he doesn’t say so himself.