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How to keep the team motivated when everyone is quitting

. 6 min read . Written by Nidhi Choksi Dhakan
How to keep the team motivated when everyone is quitting

When you are on your coffee break at work, and hear chitter-chatter about why that girl sitting at the end table is moving out, or who’s planning to go for an interview tomorrow, it’s bound to make you think — ‘Am I happy with this job? Or should I too perhaps, look for another prospective opportunity?’ When you hear that your colleague got a better-paying job where she’s much more satisfied, you will probably wonder, ‘Should I quit too?

When most people at your workplace are quitting, it’s bound to make the others second guess and reassess their positions. As a manager, finding top talent is a costly and time-consuming enterprise, to begin with, so holding on to them for dear life has to be a priority. The cost of replacing employees is far greater than most leaders imagine. The impact on the remaining employees and team dynamics, every time a person leaves, is big. Every second spent recruiting, hiring, training, and developing new employees is time taken away from your core business.

Managing a team with high attrition requires internal changes to ensure employees feel satisfied and engaged, as well as stop further departures that can eat into the bottom line.
To pinpoint the source of resignations, it helps to check on broader workplace trends. Once you figure out the reasons, you’d be in a better place to work on how to retain the remaining team. Keeping them motivated is one way to make sure they stay on the job, and here’s how you can do that:

Pay them their worth

When you set your employees’ salaries, be sure that their pay is consistent with what other companies in your industry and geographic area are paying. Remember, no one would mind leaving their current job even for just a 5 per cent increase in pay. Don’t lose great people because you’re underpaying them. So to retain your best people, demonstrate your satisfaction with their work through competitive salaries that at least match industry norms. Regular bonuses and an increase in pay go a long way.

Provide them with a pleasant place to work

Everyone wants to work in an environment that is clean, stimulating, and makes them feel good. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make an office a pleasant place to be. Recognise the toxic people in your team and make sure you don’t encourage any kind of bullying, harassing, or anything that makes team members dread coming to work. Happy employees will make enthusiastic and positive members of the team, and their attitude is infectious. Keep an eye on whether or not your people are happy with their work, their employer, and you. If they’re not, you can count on this unhappiness to spread.

Offer opportunities for self-development

The members of your team will be more valuable to your organisation, and to themselves, when they have opportunities to learn new skills. Provide your team with the training they need to advance in their careers and to become knowledgeable about the latest technologies and industry news. They will be grateful and more loyal to you. Make them think that you wish for their best. Give them some time off work too if they are learning a new skill, that might be useful to your team too.

Listen to them

It’s easy to go around giving orders to your team and going on with your day. But, if you actually make an effort to listen to them, you will understand your team dynamics, the individuals on your team, and their strengths. You will have a much better lens on what is going well or and also the challenges. Showing vulnerability and taking ownership of what is not working, is the key to getting to the root causes of people retreating.

A weekly check-in tool, quarterly surveys, and regular feedback from every monthly and quarterly event help you get deeper analysis on what is actually going around. When employees know that their manager is regularly listening to them, the impact is significant.

They are often on the front lines with customers, vendors, and other resources that you won’t have access to on a daily basis. So you’re not just being polite. Gathering their insight could ultimately become a game-changer for your company.

Initiate conversations

If you develop a bond with your team, where they can feel free to come up to you, and talk about anything, it not only portrays you as their friend but helps you get a deeper insight. Talking to those who’ve stayed on, about their work experiences, and getting both the positive and negative takes on working for your company, can help you get a better understanding. Don’t simply ask employees why they stay, but probe into what sometimes tempts them to leave, be it money or career growth, or anything else.

You should also ask them if they are getting any new employee referrals from their team. This is consistently the top source of hires. If staff are unwilling to recommend the workplace to a friend or colleague, it can be a red flag. Be proactive and hold real conversations around what’s working and what’s not working for employees on a regular basis. Ask them what you or the company can do to keep them feeling excited about coming to work every day. Ask them, ‘What can we do to make you happy/make you want to stay here?’ Value their feedback, and also make sure to act upon it.

Give them autonomy and creative freedom

Nobody likes to work under someone who is stuck up and isn’t willing to try anything new. Talented employees thrive best when left alone and are allowed creative freedom to pursue new ideas. Another thing to be careful about is micromanaging employees and a reason some organisations allow employees a certain percentage of work time to follow their own passions as it relates to their work. Nobody likes being mollycoddled or hand-held all the time. It makes them feel incompetent because they feel that you don’t trust them enough to do something.

Be flexible

Not just with methods, or a certain way of doing work, but also timings. Your employees may have changes in their family situation or needs that require flexibility in their work hours or even with their package of benefits or incentives. Think of it like this—would you like to be working for someone who is hell-bent on you finishing your number of hours? You need to be accepting if they would like a day of work from home. As long as they don’t do it too often, you need to be okay if someone needs to attend that pooja at home. It might not be important for you, but it is for them.

Some surveys, for example, have stressed how important it is to certain people to be able to bring their dog to work with them. This is a simple example, but it’s the kind of situation where a little flexibility and exploring creative options might help keep a top performer happy and engaged.

Ask them to share their ideas

When you ask employees for their input it sends the message, ‘We do pay you to think around here’, and it demonstrates that you respect their wisdom, experience, and judgment. And that, makes them feel valued. Don’t just brush off all their ideas. The managers, or the bosses, don’t always have all the answers, or the brightest ideas in the room. Encouraging them to share theirs also helps you get a fresh perspective on matters.

In fact, it’s the simplest form of employee recognition there is, and yet the one that too many managers fail to do. And considering that one of the top reasons employees say they leave an organisation is because they felt unappreciated, it’s a simple, yet effective, way to demonstrate appreciation — as long as you are sincere about it.

Praise, recognise, criticise

Your employees want to be appreciated for their contributions; thanking them for a job well done is core to anyone’s feeling of value at any level. When you publicly recognise staff members or departments, you also build loyalty. The praise you offer should be objective, however, and never manipulative, or it will backfire. It makes them feel valued and more motivated to work better, or the least, not quit.

Giving them constructive criticism shows you are invested in their growth and want their best. Telling them what areas to work upon, be it work or people skills, gives them an idea on what they should do to better themselves. A talented employee is always looking at how they can improve themselves, and be better at what they do, and your advice can help them grow.