Employee retention is linked to feedback and employee recognition. Organizations that don’t make it easy for employees to give feedback are bound to face lower productivity levels and higher employee turnover.
Everyone agrees that Employee Retention is an important factor in any organization. We all know that the longer are we in our jobs the more we learn and the more efficient we become. On the flip side, the costs associated with hiring a new employee include:
Effort of providing more initial support and supervision
Apart from random events, it’s natural to assume that job and company satisfaction play a big part in employee retention.
So how can we predictably measure job satisfaction? How do you know when there are issues to address?
As obvious as it may sound …
… first, we need to know what it means for employees to be satisfied.
If I asked you today: “How satisfied are you in your job?”
What would drive that answer: recent events or objective evaluation of your career over time?
Even though we’d like to imagine we evaluate our career and come up with an overall rating on how satisfied we are, that’s not how our minds work. We decide on the spot based mostly on most recent or most significant career events.
Also, negative events matter more to us and are much more likely to stick in our memory!
We get a glimpse into how this happens from a study that was conducted in 90s.
Researchers at the University of Toronto in the 1990s conducted an interesting study where they got a glimpse in how people rate their experiences. Here is how it went down.
154 participants in the study volunteered to undergo a routine medical procedure performed without an anesthetic and causing some pain. The participants were prompted every 60 seconds to indicate the level of pain they experienced at that moment. The question went along the lines “indicate 0 for no pain; and 10 being - intolerable pain“. As the procedure went along, patients pain score was plotted on a chart showing the scale of pain over time.
As you can see, the experience of the two patients, illustrated in the graphs above, shows how they experienced pain during the procedure.
The first patient’s procedure only lasted 8 minutes; patient #2 was not so lucky, enduring a 24-minute procedure.
Now consider this easy question: which patient in the above suffered more?
If you’re like most people, you’ll say that patient #2 suffered more. Their operation lasted longer, and they routinely indicated at least as much pain as the patient #1.
When the procedure was over, all participants were asked to rate “the total amount of pain“ they experienced during the procedure. Very similar to how you’d ask someone “how satisfied are you with your job/company/team etc“.
The answer was surprising. Patient #2 indicated much less suffering!
This study revealed 2 patterns:
People rate their overall experience based on:
Their experience towards the end
Their worst possible moment during the experience
People neglect the duration of the experience when providing a rating
Averaging out our pain/satisfaction is not how we naturally remember our experience.
Significant Work Experiences Stick
Negative experiences happen at work. Unfortunately they stick more than positives and our overall opinion leans over time towards not being satisfied with work.
This experiment translated to a workplace also explains how employees who left the organization due to dissatisfaction don’t typically come back and speak positively about it. Their overall experience is remembered by the last significant negative event rather than a culmination of their entire experience at the organization.
Despite many positive events happening at work over the years, it’s those negative ones that slowly erode our satisfaction and create our overall perception.
So, what’s the solution?
Tackle Issues Early: Collect and Action Feedback
Sometimes organizations are afraid to create an area for ideas and feedback on the intranet.
What if negative comments are going to spread and create a moderation nightmare?
Although we recommend having guidelines and moderation, you won’t see many cases where you’ll need to enforce those. Just as people don’t post offensive post-in notes in the office kitchen, they’re even less likely to do anything similar when their name is attached to the post on the intranet.
Here are a few other suggestions to include in your posting guidelines:
Check if there is a similar feedback/comment already posted
Propose a solution
Explain an alternative
No pointing fingers
Specify category of feedback (technology, facilities, process etc)
As a moderator, be sure to:
Have a mechanism to get back to those who posted feedback
Redirect feedback to SME’s
Allocate regular time for moderation activities
Group similar feedback
Employee Recognition for Employee Retention
Meaningful employee recognition is important for employee retention. In fact, many organizations have non-digital, highly formal processes for employee recognition.
With some of the organizations we worked with, Kudos were opened to the entire organization so that everyone could nominate a co-worker in a moderated channel.
To help organize Kudos you can suggest categorizing the type of recognition based on company core values.
With Office 365 you can also roll up staff photos to make the feedback tool more engaging and personal.
How else can Organizations Improve Employee Retention?
Employee engagement is a key element at keeping everyone productive. It’s also an opportunity to understand the underlying issues your people may be facing daily and how to improve. Too often organizations discard useful feedback too quickly because it’s perceived as complaining or not actionable. Use your intranet and the tools it can give you to categorize and tag feedback, crowdsource ideas, and gain momentum.
We’d be happy to help you get started with an objective intranet consultation.
Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the Director of Product at Origami. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.