You are wrapping up your tasks around the office after a productive and seemingly routine week of leading your team when it happens: your top performer comes to you to discuss their resignation. Outwardly, you express professionalism, understanding, and gratitude for their time with your team, and offer your support for the next chapter of their career. Internally, you feel a pull in the pit of your stomach telling you that you aren’t effectively leading your team. Why does it feel like such a challenge to keep team members on board?
As a leader, you know all too well the cost of employee turnover, but when was the last time you stopped to consider your work environment or leadership style from your employees’ point of view? In the modern workplace, employees are increasingly valuing opportunities that support work-life balance, promote security, and a foster sense of belonging. When you know what is important to your team, you can better provide a beneficial work environment that prioritizes employees' needs and well-being, leading to increased job satisfaction, productivity, and engagement. Below are five tips to help you become an employee-focused leader.
1. Build Relationships
It requires empathy and strong interpersonal skills to be an effective leader, and one of the most important things you can do for your team is to take on a people-oriented approach to business. Get to know what drives your employees, what their career goals are, and what they are willing to share about what they are going through in their personal lives outside of working hours. This will give you a much clearer picture of how to better serve your team and set your employees up for success.
2. Communicate Openly
Good leaders are authentically approachable, active listeners, and effectively convey expectations. Honestly discuss issues as they arise, regularly open the floor for feedback by setting up one-on-one conversations with your team, and make room for follow-up conversations once conflicts have been resolved. Not only does communication boost morale and increase productivity, but it also signifies to your employees that their voices matter.
3. Create a Positive Work Environment
An employee-focused company culture includes the opportunity for collaboration, room for creativity, and mutual respect. As a leader, you can create an environment that encourages this by acting on the feedback you hear from your team and providing the resources your team needs to succeed. Take action if someone on the team is creating tension and encourage support and celebration in the workplace.
4. Invest in Employees’ Growth
The strength of an organization is dependent on the people it employs. Make it a priority to ensure that your employees’ positions on your team are mutually beneficial for both the company and the individual. Invest in training and development resources that will help them grow personally and professionally. Not only will they be better equipped to contribute to the team, but they will also feel more engaged in the workplace and know that you are invested in their future.
5. Offer Flexibility
80% of employees consider flexible work arrangements a deciding factor when evaluating job offers and 61% of employees have left or considered leaving a job due to lack of flexibility. What does flexibility look like for your team? While it may be dependent on your industry and company setup, below are four common flexible work arrangements to consider.
The fully remote model is a win-win flexible working scenario for employees who want the freedom of work-life balance and for companies who want to recruit talent without being confined by geographical location. With modern technology and video conferencing capabilities, your team will still be connected and able to work effectively without being in the office.
Hybrid work is appealing to employees because it gives them more personal time without a commute, takes away the pressure to find childcare, and promotes a better work-life balance. How you structure your model may look different on a case-to-case basis but be sure to communicate your expectations about office hours to all team members.
4-Day Work Week
For some industries, more hours in the office do not actually equate to more work getting done. This model focuses on efficiency and time management around projects as opposed to the number of hours punched on the clock.
Many employees don’t feel their most productive between 9 am to 5 pm. Flextime allows them to work the same number of hours in the day with the freedom to do so when they feel most productive while still meeting objectives and being available for teamwork. When done correctly -- by setting clear and realistic expectations for working -- this can greatly improve your team’s productivity.
Even if your organization’s policies around work hours are less flexible, letting your employees know that their time outside of work is valuable and being understanding of work-life balance will go a long way in making your team feel valued.
By prioritizing the employee experience of those on your team, you can create an environment that allows your employees to thrive. Employees want to work somewhere where they feel enriched and fulfilled, and by being an employee-focused leader you can foster a supportive work environment that keeps your team satisfied. For more leadership training and resources, contact Front Line Leadership today.