Improve Employee Retention with Simple Empathy
There are two words that you should learn to say often, and really mean when you say it:
Sounds too easy, right? How could simply saying these two words to employees make them stick around longer and be more productive? Empathy and understanding are keys to employee retention.
As an employee, you are constantly at the mercy of your employer as well as the internal and external forces that could make your role in the company evaporate. Customers, managers and possibly even investors continuously remind you how high the stakes are for you to do an exemplary job.
People expect you to stay calm and collected in the most intense and high-stake situations. In addition to this, you are expected to be understanding when the boss shows up late to meetings for which you may have spent a lot of time planning. Similarly, when resources across the company are not very well-distributed you are still expected to move mountains with little to no support.
Listening to People and Taking Action
Listening to your employees and responding to their concerns is a first step in building trust, which is necessary for healthy organizations. It does not end there. You still have to follow through and act on employee concerns, and saying “I understand” is not a panacea to what ails your workforce. Things happen, leaving your employees in positions of vulnerability — that is life. When you reply to their issues with empathy and understanding, it fosters trust. As a result, your employees will want to work even harder and smarter for you. Now, they know your character and can vouch for it.
Develop a reputation as a fair and trustworthy person. This leads to easier relationship-building and your employees will feel that they will not have to look over their shoulders — dreading the next time they slip up and later get harangued into submission.
Respond to Uncontrollable Circumstances, not React
In closing, you really never know what hand life has dealt to people, or what they deal with in private.
One day you are a top performer, the next day you are battling cancer and yes, you showed up late for work due to that early morning doctor’s appointment that ran a half hour too long. People could be going through illness, childbirth, grief due to loss, financial problems and an entire host of other issues that can prevent them from operating at their finest. A simple acknowledgement that you are human and understand these problems, indicates that you are willing to work with people around these life issues. It reveals that you care enough to prevent people from feeling unwanted and unneeded, when they need it the most.
If they considered leaving, a little moral support can go a long way in preventing them from exiting the company (with lingering feelings of anger and disgust) and moving on to a more accommodating employer.