HR and employment law clinic: Give your employees some attention

From the “Hawthorne effect” discovered in the 1920s to the Warwick University “Happiness and Productivity” research of the 2010s, the link between happiness, praise, job satisfaction (or simply attention), and improved productivity has been well demonstrated.

Malcolm MartinBy Malcolm Martin, managing director, Employer Solutions.

The latter study suggests the increase could be as much as 20 per cent. Productivity aside, retention of key employees is essential to any business and it is so easy to overlook.

Remember to say thank you. If you appreciate your employees’ dedication or special contribution then don’t take it for granted – tell them individually and collectively.

Offer learning and development opportunities geared to individuals’ skills and disposition. Some relish big challenges others prefer small ones.

Provide personal support, coaching and mentoring. Working directly with an employee, sharing experience and limitations, is a great motivator for both parties.

Create occasions where employees meet each other. Social events are one but open days, charity days and local events can all bring employees together.

Be open to flexible working. Employees have the right to request it and, where appropriate, allowing flexibility has been shown to bring substantial productivity benefits.

Balance salaries to the market place. Nothing demotivates employees like feeling poorly rewarded. But overpaying employees is a dubious motivator.

Share opportunities to represent the organisation at conferences, seminars or networking events.

Walk the floor and talk to people. If you find that difficult or embarrassing (I did) find valid reasons to talk to individual (but not always the same) employees.

Find out what’s been going on. Exit interviews are a great one-off chance to find out what employees really think. But if you want the truth, have them done by an external party and accept anonymised reports. This list is by no means exhaustive but the act of giving attention will pay dividends – literally.