A Different Perspective on Retention

Nov 24 , 2015

Employees Want Meaningful Work That Makes a Difference

Every CEO wants to drive higher performance, productivity and profits.

Meantime, every employee wants to be engaged and empowered in a sustainable career.

They want meaningful work that makes a difference. Research is demonstrating that employee satisfaction is now more about relationships than money.

But what would happen if we broke through the boundaries of traditional jobs and even cross-functional teams and asked every employee to contribute to every functional area in the company?

It's still important that employees perform their individual jobs. But how much better would they perform if they understood that their role not only helps to drive the company forward, but they also have the power to optimize every aspect of the company?

Yes, this would mean that every employee would have access to top management. Top management benefits by tapping into the analytical problem-solving skills of every employee. Let’s take a look at how this could work.

You may think you can skip this section because you already have a CFO or controller who runs everything. But what would happen if every person in your organization was comfortable with the fundamentals of finance, including an understanding of the current financial picture and what was needed to make the company grow? What if these employees could give their knowledge and experience to top management and see their suggestions implemented? The more familiar people are with numbers, the greater likelihood everyone will begin to find ways to cut costs, optimize efficiencies, and increase revenue. There may even be opportunities to use more meaningful metrics.

Every business wants to compete in some differentiated way, rather than on price and becoming a commodity. Imagine how different your company would operate if every employee knew how to talk about the company's products or services, how they are different from the competition, or how they solve problems or make something work better. Imagine the credibility, trust and confidence of every employee i they were excited about the products and services and took that excitement into their own personal environments with a “you-just-have-to-try-this” mentality. Your employees are your biggest advocates, but they must have the necessary skills and confidence to make informed decisions.

Every company needs to generate new sales and grow their customer base in order to thrive. You may be leaving this to the sales manager and the sales team to get this done. But if you think about salespeople as problem solvers, you'll soon realize every employee can be in sales while still performing their day-to-day jobs. When employees have a supportive, problem-solving mindset, they can foster better relationships with each other, vendors and customers, and they can recognize sales opportunities no matter their position.

Human resources manages every aspect of an employee’s lifecycle, including hiring, benefits, corporate policies and other employee-related issues. Why are companies spending valuable resources on studies when employees are the best resource for learning how they want to be managed, motivated and retained. What if companies stopped thinking of the exit interview as an important tool for improvement and allowed employees to contribute their experience, needs and problem-solving abilities to make a better workplace?

There are many examples of companies listening to their employees and implementing suggestions to improve purchasing and other key logistics. A great example is Southwest Airlines. Employees tasked with cleaning the airplanes suggested that the airline purchase plain garbage bags, rather than spending money on customized garbage bags bearing the company logo, which saved countless dollars over the years.

About the Author

Fred Khachi