It can be a real blow when a trusted employee hands in their notice, especially for SMEs with a small workforce.

Life brings new opportunities and your loyal staff-member may have simply found a post which suits them better; you shouldn’t assume they’re leaving because they were unhappy working for you.

But there’s always a niggling doubt in a boss’s mind: “Why have they really left? What is it my employees aren’t telling me? Are they happy?”

Communicating with staff is vital for the successful running of any business; meetings, informal chats and employee surveys – ( offer free online survey templates) – are all an important part of keeping the dialogue fresh and employee satisfaction levels high.

The only downside is that there’s always likely to be a barrier of reticence between an employee and the person who signs their pay cheque. So how can you discover what your employees are really thinking? The truth is that without hiding in the staff lockers you probably can’t!

But you can take measures to help keep staff morale high. Here are our top five reasons your staff are fed up, and ideas for turning those frowns upside down:

1. No-one knows what I do: Even in a small company, many employees feel their work goes unnoticed, especially if it involves daily repetitive tasks. It’s very important for company leaders to spend time on the office floor with people who do the day-to-day tasks that make the business tick. This will let people know their work is noticed and appreciated.

2. Why don’t I get more responsibility?: It’s surprising how many people would choose a stimulating job over a better-paid dull one. In today’s technology-driven world where creativity is highly valued, many people appreciate being given a tricky project to do so they can have the satisfaction of seeing their work come off. Employees will quickly stagnate if they’re not given the opportunity to take on interesting tasks, and will especially appreciate those who have been specifically targeted to their strengths.

3. Why has my colleague been promoted over my head?: Internal job opportunities generally lead to unspoken resentment amongst those who don’t get them. There are no easy answers to this; just be aware that employees will feel this way when you promote people. All you can do is make sure any jobs are well advertised and the application procedure is transparent and scrupulously fair.

4. Why does no-one ever thank me?: A simple thank-you really does work wonders. Often your employees don’t need bonuses or expensive lunches out as a reward for a job well done; they will appreciate the time you take to stop by their desk and personally thank them for their work.

5. I could run this place better: Good communication isn’t just about the boss checking in with the staff, it’s about explaining their job too. When you’re working in the middle of an organisation, decisions made at the top often seem inexplicable, not to mention a waste of time and money. It’s a good idea for a boss to start a newsletter and/or hold regular briefings explaining what direction the company is going in. Try introducing a suggestion box – you might get some good ideas!

Petaurum Solutions’ Comment

Managing people doesn’t need to be complicated – the simple things in life are often the best.  However, they do need to be carefully thought through and will have greater impact on your business success if they are part of a structured plan or strategy that is linked to your business goals and can be measured at the bottom line.

At Petaurum Solutions we can help your small business create its People Strategy and Plan to help ensure every employee is engaged and motivated to contribute to your business success.  We can also be with you over the longer-term, through our ‘retained HR Director’ model, to provide professional and experience-based Board-level advice and guidance to keep the implementation of your People Plan on track. Contact us to find out more

This information is intended as a general overview and discussion of the subjects dealt with. The information provided here was accurate as of the day it was posted; however, the law may have changed since that date. This information is not intended to be, and should not be used as, a substitute for taking legal, HR or benefits advice in any specific situation. Petaurum Solutions is not responsible for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of this information. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.

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