Finally, sunshine is peaking through the dreary jobs market. The last Labor Department report showed that over 200,000 jobs were added, and some of those may very well be at your company. Clearly, that’s great news. But employees who have worked hard for you during the recession (and have possibly been picking up the slack after layoffs or during hiring freezes) may feel threatened by increases in hiring. And that’s bad news for your bottom line: The Institute for Research on Labor and Employment found that it takes 150 percent of a person’s salary to replace him or her. Your goal this spring should not only be to make strategic new hires, but at the same time, engaging employees who currently work for you. Here are 6 employee engagement ideas to show you how:
Reward Them for Sticking With You
At the same time you’re focusing on new hires, you should spend some time and money recognizing loyal employees. “Recognize their contributions and the fact that they may not have been rewarded with promotions or salary increases for an extended period of time,” says Roy Cohen, career coach and author, The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.
Give Them Prime Projects
A great way to de-motivate existing staff is to give new recruits the plum projects. “Before you hire new staff, make sure the people who are already on board are given every opportunity to participate in new projects and interesting assignments,” says Cohen. If “old” staff needs new skills to do these projects, provide additional training to get them up to speed rather than just hiring people who already have it. Chances are the cost of training will be much lower than extra hires.
Notice Small Improvements
Dale Carnegie Trainers teach their students to avoid criticizing people directly, and instead praise people and projects that are doing well, including those who have improved upon past performances. “Many people leave jobs not because of salary but because of bad bosses who don’t appreciate them,” says career coach Susan Whitcomb. Indeed, the biggest factor affecting employee engagement is one’s relationship with his or her boss, according to recent Dale Carnegie Training research.
Know What Motivates Them to Stay
Are your best employees motivated by salary increases? Flexible hours? “Find out specifically what might make your team [leave for a competing company], and take an honest look at how your company measures up,” says career consultant Caroline Ceniza-Levine.
Show Them Where They Fit In
While layoffs are scary, hiring can also make people feel uncertain of where their place is within the company. “Share a clear vision of the future that’s exciting and enticing and assure them of their essential contribution,” says executive coach Shannon Cassidy. “They won’t want to jump ship if the place they are is growing, acknowledging and supporting them.”
If you inadvertently cause resentment on your staff because you haven’t followed the suggestions above, all is not lost. Dale Carnegie Trainers teach leaders that “If you are wrong, [you should] admit it quickly and empathetically.” If you begin to see that your existing employees feel wronged — and they have reason to be — consider admitting your missteps and correcting things as best you can, possibly using the previous tips as your guide.