Workplace Rootedness, part II

Originally published on April 25, 2018 by The Montrose Daily Press 

Turnover is costly to the bottom line and emotionally exhausting. As we discussed last week, we are living in an “employee job market.” Unemployment is virtually non-existent, meaning the people who want to be working are. Talented people have the upper hand when it comes to employment choices. As employers, we must now be mindful and intentional about the retention of that talent.

Talent retention is a topic spanning far and wide, and one I am no master of. However, I’ve seen success with the following suggestions surrounding Workplace Rootedness:

• Lay down the welcome mat: It begins with making staff feel welcome and part of something. Ensuring staff members are comfortable in their environment is important on their first day and every day moving forward. Introduce them to everyone in the office. Show them around. Tell them where to put their lunch, where they can find a filtered water fountain, etc.

• Help them understand the organizational culture and make sure they know about office rituals. Maybe everyone rides their bike on Fridays. Maybe everyone wears Broncos jerseys on game days. Whatever the culture is, be sure you detail all aspects. Give them things to look forward to and be a part of such as the employee picnic or the annual office food drive.

• Meet them where they are. The employee of 2018 is a hybrid. Some of them are even electric (meaning they need to be plugged in all the time). You can choose to fight it, but in reality, your employees have cell phones and they will use them to stay connected to those they love throughout the day. At any given moment, an employee may be balancing a conversation with their spouse via text, an email with their child’s teacher and the work project you’ve asked them to complete. The modern employee is a mashup of all parts of their life during all parts of the day. Work self and home self are in constant interchange.

• The flip side: this also translates at home. Emails are answered at 10 p.m. from bed when the kids are asleep. Healthy or not, this is the way many people live. The more employers can support (but not expect) this type of work/life mashup, the more an employee will establish roots within the organization.

• Water your plants: I arrived at work on my birthday a few years ago and was delighted to find my entire office decorated. Streamers, balloons, presents and even a tiara were waiting for me. This brought tears of gratitude to my eyes. I’d only been working at that job for a couple months and I felt an overwhelming sense of acceptance and connectedness as a result.

Through these types of gestures, you can create a community for your staff to be part of. Encourage socialization and connectedness amongst your team. Perhaps you schedule group coffee breaks, work anniversary celebrations, or after work meetups. Assuming these things will manifest on their own is a mistake.

Life and the workplace contain plenty of mundane, ordinary, and even disappointing aspects. Look for reasons to celebrate your people. Look for reasons to make them feel part of you, part of the team and valued. People are less likely to leave an environment where they perceive themselves as an important contributor.

As employers in an “employee market,” we must be competitive on pay and benefits. We must offer career development opportunities for our staff and facilitate opportunities for advancement. In a market such as this, these things are more like “basic needs” than competitive advantages.The concept of Workplace Rootedness stems from the belief that we must create a relationship infrastructure by capturing our staff’s intellect as well as their heart. People become less location neutral the more they create relationships with people in a particular place. Roots go down where relationships are planted and watered.