Balancing act: To retain good employees, improve work-life balance
— "Promote from within. Your staff will grow discouraged if they feel advancement opportunities aren't available," the press release said. "Meet with employees to review their career paths and discuss how they can move up in the organization."
— "Provide competitive compensation." Robert Half suggests making sure salaries and benefits are at, or slightly above, market rates. Most compensation plans are established above my level, as a middle manager, but I do try to provide input to move decisions in my employees' favor.
— "Recognize outstanding work." This can be handled with a spot bonus, but it doesn't necessarily have to be expensive. I've found that simply thanking workers publicly can be a great motivator, both for the person receiving the praise and for coworkers.
— "Offer professional development opportunities. Training programs help people expand their skills and boost productivity," the Robert Half release said. "You'll also gain versatility in your team." We send several team members to a professional development conference each year. They get a chance to recharge their batteries, and they share what they learn with the rest of the team when they get back. Everybody wins.
McDonald said in the press release that many companies try to keep workers by making counter-offers when people are prepared to leave. However, he said, that's not the best way to handle the situation.
"Counter-offers rarely fix the underlying reasons a professional decides to leave the company, such as a lack of challenge or a desire for advancement," McDonald said.
I completely agree. The time to work on retaining an employee isn't after he or she has received an offer from a different company. Rather, a manager should be aware of each team member's job satisfaction and work to keep top performers happy, motivated and productive.
Work-life balance is an important part of that equation, and it's something upon which a middle manager can have a direct impact. I try to remember that with my team. I encourage other managers to do the same.