Team building and the labor shortage: How to truly value your employees - and show it!
If you aren’t yet feeling the effects of the labor shortage, you’ve probably heard about it. More people are quitting their jobs than ever before. In fact, the number of employees quitting their jobs in the US reached a whopping 4.5 million in November 2021. Before you jump into out-of-the-box recruiting tactics, we wanted to share a different approach to combating what’s been deemed the Great Resignation: team building.
It’s clear that today’s workers know what they want, and they aren’t afraid to go elsewhere to get it. Now’s the time to focus on listening to and supporting your team.
However clear it is to you that you value your team, that appreciation doesn’t always translate during day-to-day operations. If you’re just chugging along, getting work done without taking a step back to see how your employees are really doing, they might be feeling undervalued. And if they find a place where they think they’ll be treated better, why wouldn’t they fly that way?
There are approximately 10.6 million jobs open in the US right now, and only 8.4 million job seekers to fill those positions. We’re in a labor shortage because people are quitting jobs they aren’t satisfied with, and the shocking data should be a wake-up call to business owners, HR execs, and team leads across the country.
Employees are searching for jobs with decent pay and benefits, sure— but they’re also looking for a workplace that appreciates their skills and hard work. And there are numbers to back this up! Employees who feel their skills are recognized by their employer are 63% more likely to stay at their current job.
It’s time to show your team how much you truly value them, and the best way to do that is by A: actually valuing them, and B: taking actionable steps to boost employee satisfaction. Here are five ways to truly value your employees (and beat the labor shortage in the process):
1. Show respect, trust, and appreciation
2. Communicate with transparency
3. Set up your flock for success
4. Exercise flexibility
5. Reimagine productivity
➡ 5 Values Essential to Fostering Remote Team Culture
➡ Hosting a Warm Welcome Back to the Office
➡ 4 Tips for Effective Collaboration if your Team is Remote
Show respect, trust, and appreciation
Every employee has their own expertise, collection of experiences, and specialties that enable them to do their job. You hired your team for a reason, and keeping your current flock happy and supported is more important now than ever before. After all, finding new candidates has always been expensive, and the labor shortage adds another layer of complexity to the equation. It’s important to show your employees how much you value their skills and expertise.
So, how do you show your employees just how much you appreciate what they do for you? Here are a few ideas:
- Try gamifying Team Building activities. Let your employees trade in points earned by good work - or by completing missions on GooseChase - for extra vacation time or paid educational opportunities.
- Create intentional space for giving positive feedback. Maybe reserve a space in your morning meetings to give props where they're due.
- Create intentional space for constructive feedback. Giving employees a safe, comfortable space to share their struggles and ask for help is a great way to show you appreciate them when they’re trying their best, even when their best isn’t perfect. Building a culture of transparent dialogue like this shows your flock that every project is a team effort.
- Encourage your employees to recognize the successes of their peers. Employee recognition software can make this easy and fun (the GooseChase team uses Bonus.ly to recognize our flock).
- Celebrate important events in your employees’ lives. Celebrating milestones like birthdays and anniversaries shows your employees you care about them as people, not just as employees. Birthday GooseChase, anyone? Get the whole team in on the celebration by collecting photo, video, or text well wishes on GooseChase and compiling them into a group greeting.
- Ask your employees what they need from you. Good pay and health benefits should be the baseline. Mental health is health. If you’re not providing mental health support already, there’s no time like the present (especially considering pandemic-related stress). Beyond this, listen to your team to figure out what they need. That might be fitness-related benefits or more community meals in the office. You can even have your employees pick the food by letting departments take turns voting for their meal of choice.
Communicate with transparency
Transparent communication is a must when it comes to team building. Transparency keeps your employees on the same page, making their jobs easier. Help employees feel trusted and engaged in the success of the organization by letting them in on the company’s direction and leadership decisions. When you take the time to communicate expectations and goals, your employees feel heard, understood, and valued. Plus, this opens up a dialogue where employees can tell you what they need to do their jobs better.
You might not think you’re intimidating, but nobody likes to give constructive feedback to the boss. Want to make your team feel even more supported? Create a channel for employees to leave feedback anonymously. This takes the pressure off, giving your employees the opportunity to tell you what they need or what they think should change in the workplace without the fear of possible judgment.
Set your flock up for success
You can tell your employees how much you value them, but if you really want that message to land, you’ll put your money where your mouth is. How do you do that? By creating a comfortable work environment (whether it be a remote, hybrid, or in-person) that meets your employees’ needs. Give them the tools and flexibility they need to work well. Not only will this show your team how much you care about them-- it’ll boost employee satisfaction and create a warm and fuzzy work environment, too.
The best way to test the waters here is by sending out an anonymous survey where employees can give honest feedback. Ask if they feel understaffed, or if they have the materials and resources necessary to get their work done.
And don’t forget, you have employees with goslings to worry about! Some remote-working parents need time throughout the day to care for their kids. In-office parents might need time in the afternoons for school pickups. Benefits regarding daycare solutions for young kids are the ultimate way to show that you value the parents on your team.
Employees might also have elderly relatives, side jobs, or time-consuming hobbies to contend with (our team has its fair share of small biz crafters)! Moral of the story-- being a good employer means enabling your employees to easily and comfortably lead their full lives. Life shouldn’t revolve around work-- if you want to keep your flock stocked with good talent, it needs to be the other way around.
One of the reasons people are quitting their jobs so much right now is because they aren’t satisfied with their company’s post-pandemic policies. We’ve been remote here at GooseChase since we hatched, but going remote during lockdown was a bit of a culture shock for most of the workforce. Some people adjusted well (hello, fellow introverts 👋), while others craved their daily dose of human interaction.
Pretty much everyone agreed on one thing, though-- there are better ways of doing work. The days of trudging into a frigid office at 8 am and chugging away without breaks until 5 pm every single day are officially over. If you want your company to be a comfortable place for everyone on your team, you have to acknowledge that everyone’s different. Your employees’ unique personalities and preferences are part of what makes them who they are. Cater to their needs, and they’ll be better at their jobs. Fail to do that, and you could end up losing them altogether.
Again, communication is key here. Listen to what your employees need post-pandemic. You can design a hybrid work model in so many different ways. Your team’s hybrid sweet spot might be meeting in person once a week, or just for celebratory gatherings. It really comes down to listening to your team and creating a model that helps everyone do their best work (and live their best life).
We’ve gotten in the habit of measuring productivity and success by the number of hours clocked. In reality, everyone works at a different pace. Not every employee needs to clock 40 hours a week to reach their goals, and that’s okay. We moved to a 4-day workweek earlier this year, freeing up an extra day to be used however employees like. Redefining productivity by judging outcomes over output shows your employees you value what they do, rather than how much they do.
When you’re clear about the goals each employee and department needs to meet to be successful, your team can work asynchronously to achieve those goals in a way that works best for them. When you give your employees the power to choose how and when they work, they’ll have an easier time achieving those goals (and they’ll be happier doing it). This leads to higher employee satisfaction and engagement.
An engaged workforce outperforms a disengaged one by 202%. Get your geese in tight formation to help them reach their destination.
Prioritizing outcomes also redefines how you view success as a company. Making these changes results in a more productive work environment overall. Why not make your employees happy while improving your company’s bottom line? Give your CEO something to honk about. 🎉
Build your team from within
The best action you can take to combat the labor shortage is simply listening to your employees. Find out what they like about the job, what they dislike, and what they need from you to do it better. A little understanding can do a whole lot of good. 🧡
If you want to keep your employees, you’ve got to appreciate them. That means providing regular feedback and displays of appreciation, trust, clear communication, the right tools, and a flexible work environment that values people's happiness and productivity over hamster wheel output.