The Best Employee Retention Solutions Include Kind Managers

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Too many organizations hire expensive consultants to roll out the latest trendy employee retention solutions. In most cases, they should focus their energy and resources what’s happening with their managers. Specifically, they need to train their managers on how to be kind. Employees who receive kindness and respect in the workplace appreciate this kind of culture and commit to working harder.

How Kind Managers Serve as Employee Retention Solutions

Signature Consultants has been tracking kindness in the workplace. Their findings demonstrate the importance of kindness at work, both at the employee and the C‑level. They define their kindness quotient as: "The degree a company practices a culture and leadership of kindness and the extent it is felt by individual employees." It’s not surprising that 73% of employees say kindness at work positively impacts their overall work performance and productivity.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Few of us want to work for an organization that bullies its employees or ignores their needs for a work-​life balance. Prior to the recent pandemic, many service workers complained they had no control over the hours they worked, especially in the food service industry. In some cases, they couldn’t get enough hours to reach a fulltime status or earn a liveable salary. As we emerged from the pandemic, employees flocked to employers and industries with a reputation for respecting their workers.

Kindness as a Recruiting Tool

Managers in the Signature Consultants survey agree that there’s no substitute for kindness. 79% give the quality a thumbs-​up when it coming to recruiting employees. That’s because word gets around. While employers are carefully screening applicants and ask them to take psychometrics assessments, the candidates are doing their own research. It doesn't take them long to learn that a particular manager in an organization thrives on being passive-​aggressive or just plain mean.

81% of managers also say a kind culture serves as an employee retention solution. We all appreciate working in a supportive environment. But the benefits of kindness don’t end there. When employees perceive that “kindness is considered a core value of the organization,” they believe the organization is 131% “more likely to be considered innovative.” In every business climate, innovation leads to success.

The Difference Between Being Kind and Being Nice

Do you understand the difference between being kind and being nice? This is an important distinction for managers to make. All too often, managers who want their team members to like them shy away from having important conversations. They’ll hesitate to tell an employee that they aren’t meeting the quota of work that should be done. Meanwhile, says Dr. Sirota, “there are repercussions throughout the entire workplace as a result of the manager’s choice to be “nice” to this employee.” Those repercussions may start small. Co-​workers may gripe but they’ll continue to hustle to get the job done. Over time, as the manager avoids addressing the problem, co-​workers may engage in “quiet quitting.” From there productivity can nosedive. And you’ll find your best employee retention solutions aren't working.

To help employees adapt to expectations, managers can use a kind approach effectively. Says Sirota, “The kind manager has clear expectations and sets clear limits.” Of course, that is only the start.

We all know some employees will work very in that system while the performance of others will fall short. You can help your struggling team member feel good by praising what you like about their work. Then it’s time to question why they weren’t able to complete a report on time, for example. After listening to their explanation, ask them for suggestions on how they might work more efficiently. Help them improve productivity by suggesting they take a time management course if that’s the core problem.

You don’t have to be your team members’ best friend. As a kind manager your goal is to help everyone on the team do their best work. When you reach that milestone, you also improve employee retention.

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels

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Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.