Did you know that the average 25-year-old has already worked 6.3 jobs? That’s almost a different job every year if he or she started working at age 18.
So what does this mean for business owners and managers? Gone are the days when people stayed with one company for decades—or even for an entire career. Today’s employees like to move around!
I’ve always supported those who want to move on to a different opportunity, but I also work hard to keep my team members happy and loyal so that they don’t leave in pursuit of something that ShortStack could easily offer them.
If you follow my Leader Shift column, you probably read my article about offering employee perks on any budget. While I’m a huge supporter of offering benefits, the key to keeping people happy and working for you longer is to go beyond basic perks. As a CEO or manager, it’s part of your job to make sure employees are mentally stimulated and feel like they’re growing professionally.
One way to do this is to constantly communicate with your team. Here are six questions you can ask your employees to ensure they are happy with their jobs—and with you.
1. What Are Your Short- and Long-Term Goals With the Company?
Knowing your employees’ goals can help you make sure you’re providing a work environment that’s helping them grow. This kind of question is normally asked during an interview stage, but few employers think to ask it beyond that initial hiring process.
I recommend asking your staffers this question at least once a year. As people grow professionally and as their personal situations change—e.g., they adopt pets, get married, or have children—their goals may change, and the more flexibility you can offer to accommodate that growth, the longer your employees will stick around.
2. Are You Satisfied With Your Current Responsibilities?
If you’re a small business owner, or if your company’s strategies and focus are often shifting, your employees may be asked to pick up unexpected roles or switch hats. And while this can be a good thing, every once in a while, especially if I see a particular employee isn’t producing high quality work, I’ll check in to see whether people are feeling satisfied and fulfilled in their current positions.
For example, I have one employee who was hired at ShortStack to work as an editor. Over time, he took on the additional role of creating video tutorials in support of our product. One day, I asked him if he was happy with his dual roles, and he mentioned that he would really prefer to focus exclusively on videos. Fortunately, I was able to pass his editing role on to another employee who really enjoyed doing that kind of work, and he is now solely a video guy. As a result of the shift, we’re able to produce more videos than ever, and both employees are contributing their strongest skills to the team.
The easiest way to tell if an employee is getting burned out is to pay attention to his or her attitude and work quality. If one of your top performers starts tapering off in those areas, chances are, something is going on professionally or personally.
If you’re unable to switch someone’s responsibilities, the following questions can help you adjust his or her position to better fit his or her needs.
3. Do You Feel You’ve Had Adequate Training to Fulfill Your Job Duties?
Being in the tech industry, I see how quickly things can change. And it’s the same in many other industries, too: Professionals have to constantly educate themselves to stay up to date with the latest trends. So, it’s a good idea to check in with your employees every so often to make sure they have the proper training to continue to be successful in their roles.
Employees are much more likely to remain with a company if they feel like they’re being challenged and growing professionally. Giving employees access to educational and professional development opportunities shows them that you care about their growth and support them working toward their professional goals. There are events, trade shows, and training courses applicable to professionals in every industry, and I believe it’s the boss’ job to give employees the chance to take advantage of those opportunities.
As you determine your budget each year, decide how many conferences you can afford, and make everyone aware that they can attend a certain number of events each year. Or, you can give them a conference budget and let each employee decide how to spend it—that way, some people may choose to go to one large, expensive event, while others attend five or six smaller ones.
4. What Are You Working on That I Can Help You With?
Ideally, all your employees are working toward your department or company goals, but the bigger a company gets, the more difficult it is to stay abreast of each employee’s individual tasks.
I like to check in with my team members at least once a week to ask them what they’re currently working on, how I can be of assistance, and if they have any ideas for new projects. This allows me to offer my time and support on their current projects and brainstorm some new ideas to make sure they stay excited and engaged. I’ve found that employees who feel like their ideas are being heard (and implemented) are more likely to stay with a company.
5. Do You Have the Support You Need?
Most projects require your team members to collaborate with people in a few different departments, which can be difficult enough. But have you asked your employees if they have the support they need from you and the rest of your team?
I’ve worked hard to develop a management style that encourages independence—I want every employee to feel confident enough to see projects through from beginning to end without having to check in with me daily. However, I realized recently that a few of my employees were getting held up on projects because they didn’t want to “bother” me with the issues. I learned that no matter how independent my employees are, it’s important that I stay involved in projects and pay attention to workflow to ensure that each employee is getting support from me and the rest of my team.
If you’re seeing hiccups in your team flow, it may be time for a management shift.
6. How Was Your Weekend?
It seems like an insignificant question (and one unrelated to work), but inquiring about your employees’ lives outside of work shows them that you care about their overall happiness.
For example, an employee of mine has recently been dealing with some family changes, and I learned that it would really make her life easier if she could leave work a few hours early each day. I let her know she was free to adjust her hours however she needed until things got back to normal for her. It was a small gesture, but now that she’s able to deal with her situation without having to worry about working 9 AM to 5 PM each day, a big weight has been lifted off her shoulders—and she continues to provide excellent work for me even though she has a lot going on outside of the office.
In the end, the happier your employees are in their role and with you, the longer they will stay. I’ve never had an employee leave ShortStack because he or she wasn’t satisfied with his or her job, and that’s a really great feeling. It allows me to work with my current team so we can all grow professionally, as individuals and as a company.