I don't think it matters what type of organization you work with, keeping your best people is important. Here are seven suggestions for how to keep good team members, as the economy improves. I think the suggestions apply very well to team members (I'm convinced that project success is really dependent on the individuals that make up the project team and the extra work many teams are doing now with minimal resources):
Revisit Old Promises: It's important to address any benefit cuts or salary freezes which were agreed upon by team members due to economic conditions, but it's also important to review any other promises made to the team that may have been forgotten. For example: the extra day off for working the weekend, the bonus that was promised but wasn't realized, etc. The team will remember, so you had better remember too.
Take Action: If employees have concerns or complaints, don't ignore them. If team members are asking for additional responsibilities, give them an opportunity to participate in an expanded role on the team. When team members feel that their voice matters, they are more inclined to feel satisfied at work.
Have Fun: A lot of teams plan activities outside of the office. If that works for your team, that's great. However, it is possible to make the work environment a fun and enjoyable place to be. Focusing on "all work all the time" can make the job a drag. Sometimes all it takes is a 5-10 minute break during the day or bringing in a pizza once in a while to ease the tension and make the workplace fun. Be creative. One of the teams here spends time once in a while shooting hoops for a few minutes during the afternoon to keep everyone's mind fresh.
Keep Talking: Keep the team up to date regarding the status of the company and its prospects. This can go a long way to ease fears about the future. Our company meets together every quarter to talk about our successes (and failures) during the quarter. We also get an update on our company's health. I find this hour very valuable and appreciate that our CEO makes it happen every quarter. It may not be a company-wide meeting in your organization, but you can certainly keep your team up to date.
Be Transparent: Make sure to communicate both the company's good and bad news without "sugar-coating" the bad news. It's important to speak to every member of the team individually from time to time to let them know how they are doing and how they fit into the company's (and the team's) plans for growth.
Address Inequities: Rewarding employees based upon performance can be a good idea, but if there are significant pay inequities on the team, they aren't a secret. Now is a good time to address pay inequities with raises where appropriate. As a project leader, you might not have the authority to implement a pay raise for a key employee, but you sure have some influence with who does.
Be Realistic: As the economy improves, you may very well loose some team members to the "bigger or better" opportunity. However, if you can show the team that they are important to the organization's success, and are open and honest with them regarding what's happening at your company and their future, they will more than likely stick with the team.
What do you do to keep your best employees?
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