We are now well and truly back for 2012. So, how did you fair? Employee wise that is? A test of a company’s mettle especially on the HR front is whether you maintained your staffing levels after commencing the new year or if your staff decided to pursue work with other employers.

If you did have staff leave, make this year the year you turn over a new leaf so that you and your company becomes more attractive for people to join, stay and remain engaged. Here are my Top 10 tips to becoming an employer of choice in your industry or profession.

1. Exit interview your staff

Before working on a solution it is important to determine the problem. Use your exit interview to determine what it is that made your staff resign. Was it management, the culture, the role or job responsibilities, the team or resources? Get to the heart of the matter. Only then will you have a foundation from which to charter a course for success. And before you say it, yes there will be the tainted staff member that will have a mouthful to say in any regard, but there will be elements of truth to take home and from which to learn.

2. Look in the mirror

It may be time to look at yourself. Are you being the best manager/leader you can be? What is your management style and do you get the response you seek? Do you like who you are at work? There are some great team tools for development, one being a 360 degree survey which has your manager (if you report higher up the chain), your peers, your subordinates, even suppliers and clients rate your abilities in a host of different situations and areas. Again, the more honest the feedback the more you have to work with. Always make time for your own personal development, your staff will appreciate it.

3. Assess the values of the business

You know the ones, words that represent the heartbeat of the business, whether coined by you or someone else. Determine if first, you agree with the values and if not can you change them to those more representative of where you wish to head with the business? The important aspect is to “walk the talk”. If values are mere words pinned up on the board they become rhetoric and nothing else. Go to your staff and ask them … “What are our values” . Most staff will not be able to answer. Values need to be communicated on an ongoing basis and represented by actions. What actions will you and your staff demonstrate, that will ensure the values are being upheld in your business?

4. Develop an engaging culture

Do you have an engaging culture? Do you strive for an uplifting environment that inspires people? Are you positive – even when struggling? Many employees commence with a new company but will leave because of cultural mismatch. This may be at a corporate level, division, team or individual level. Ask your current employees … “What do you like about working at xyz company?” “What don’t you like?” The information you glean will soon let you know where your culture is letting you and your employees down. Then write an action plan for improvement.

5. Develop operational systems that help, not hinder, the business

When employees have to sacrifice time and productivity in doing their job because of poor systems or poor connectivity, fix it! We are still waiting on the roll-out of Australia’s National Broadband Network but we can do more to make our systems run leaner and faster.

6. Make your employees happy

This is based on the findings of Shawn Achor – Harvard lecturer and one of the world’s leading experts on human potential – who predicates that success comes when you’re happy not the traditional view that if you work hard, you will be successful and if you are successful you will be happy.  When you work out what it is that makes your employees happy and strive to achieve happiness in their day you will be amazed! Not only at the results that can be achieved but the loyalty you gain from these happy staff members.

7. Continually train and develop your staff

We are wired to grow, learn new things and develop, to stretch to new levels and strive for greater heights. Look at your Training and Development plans for your team. If you don’t have one, develop one through a combination of performing a Skills Needs Analysis and talking with the individual staff members and their supervisors. When the economy is tough and there is no money for bonuses or added incentives, the best alternative is to train your people. Use in-house staff skilled in a certain area to train the rest of the group. Team dynamics go up, bonds form and learning occurs.

8. Set goals

This should be at a corporate, division, team and individual level. Goals can be simply stated – also called dashboard measures (similar to the controls you see on the dashboard of your car) that tell you, at a glance, how you are travelling compared with the measures you have established.

9. Develop your mid-management team

At the Supervisory/Team Leader level there are many challenges but also lessons that can be learned. Your front-line supervisors can tell you what the problems your clients are having with your business and give you tips for improvement. Also, many front line supervisors are promoted as they were the best “technician”. Note this, best technician not best leader. Many companies, even the biggest companies have had managers go up the corporate ladder with little leadership training and development to support this. Some managers and leaders rise based on natural abilities but many do their leadership role averagely at best. Invest in making your mid-management team the stars of the business.

10. Establish employment benefits beyond salary

In BRW’s recent survey of the 50 “Best Employers” many of the employers offered added extras in employment contracts. Examples included, an extra week’s leave (or cash in lieu of leave) after four or five years of continual employment, greater budgets for training and development, extended paid maternity leave or childcare facilities on  site.  We all know the “Googles” and “Apples” of the world have a whole new employee experiences with video arcades and games rooms that cater to their creative, younger and not so young employees. So what is it that you can do to make work a better experience for your staff? If you don’t your competitors may and where will your employees go?

Harvest Recruitment can offer recruitment advice for companies embarking on hiring new staff. Harvest Human Resources will guide you as you address the HR components of your business and can help you forge a path to becoming an Employer of Choice.

Maree Herath, Director of Harvest Recruitment and Harvest Human Resources can be reached on 1300 363 128.

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