It’s easy to show your employees how much you value them when times are good. You can invest in their futures through great professional development opportunities. You have funds for internal conferences. You’re able to provide merit increases and promotions for your hardest working employees.
But now, times are tough. Raises have been replaced by RIFs (reductions-in-force). Professional development is replaced by pay cuts. Conferences are replaced by coffee clubs because the office can no longer afford to spring for free coffee.
Robert J. Holland over at Ragan.com today discussed Deloitte LLP’s fourth annual Ethics & Workplace Survey, which reports that as many as one-third of employees admit they will look for new employment when the economy recovers. Take a good look at your team. Can you afford to lose one-third of them? I know I can’t. That much talent and good chemistry would be very difficult to replace.
The good news is that there’s still time to make a difference. Nearly half of the employees who said they’d bail revealed their primary reasons for leaving were lack of trust (48 percent) and failure to provide transparent communication (46 percent), Holland reports.
Just as you work to cultivate personal relationships through trust and honesty, you need to work just as hard to build and maintain your workplace relationships.
Holland offers the following communications tips:
- Be real and trust employees with information. Employees can read the newspaper. They watch the evening news. They know what’s going on and can guess how it impacts your company or government agency. Don’t sugarcoat the truth when you communicate with them. Provide them with the truth about how your agency is weathering the latest budget storm and what that means to them.
- Be available and promote all-way communication: Leadership on all levels must be accessible, reaching out to employees and soliciting their input. At my office, Attorney General Rob McKenna hosts an internal social media-type site where employees can provide anonymous input on budget solutions or any other topic. His e-mail address is available for staff across the agency to contact him. He takes time to visit all the divisions in our office face-to-face to discuss their ideas and concerns– and he encourages managers across the office to do the same. As Holland notes, you can build trust and control the rumor mill by increasing transparency and dialogue.
It all boils down to respect. While it may be a while before any of us can afford to reward our employees as we’d like, it doesn’t cost a dime to give them the gift of respect by treating them like adults, earning their trust and providing them the information they need as valuable members of your team.