A third grade school teacher in a low income area in Denver recently asked her students to complete a simple sentence that started with “I wish my teacher knew…” The answers were at times both heart warming and heart breaking. They ran the gamut from students defending the honor of the teacher against other students; to letting her know that their Father left home many years ago and is dearly missed.
When asked why she chose this assignment, Schwartz said “As a new teacher, I struggled to understand the reality of my students’ lives and how to best support them. I just felt like there was something I didn’t know about my students.”
As I read the article I couldn’t help but wish that more employers had Ms. Schwartz’s curiosity about their employees. I sometimes run across companies that don’t ask their employees anything. Ever. No on-boarding feedback. No annual survey. No exit interviews. Nothing. “No time for that” they say in a strangely proud sort of fashion. One HR Exec proclaimed that he surveys his employees once every 3 years and would eliminate it altogether if he could. Another gentleman said that if he listened to his employees he might actually have to take action and he wasn’t prepared to do that because he was too busy. I imagine Ms. Schwartz was pretty busy too. But the game is changing even beyond simply asking your employees the right questions once or twice a year. It’s about making it simple, accessible, and rewarding for employees to provide feedback on a regular basis that keeps today’s top companies ahead of retention issues. It can now be done in a painless way and at a scale that makes it easy for even the largest companies to distill massive amounts of data into actionable insights in short order.
Even with today’s technology it is perhaps understandable that in our daily pursuit of profit we aren’t necessarily thinking about employee satisfaction and retention as being revenue or cost savings drivers. This is despite extensive evidence showing it’s very real impact on both the top and bottom lines. However, for the companies that do prioritize retention choosing to take the the pulse of the workforce on a recurring basis will allow them to far outpace the competition. And while you are gathering amazing insights into the dynamics of your workforce you will also be letting your employees know you care by listening and making informed changes which leads to the added bonus of becoming a recruiting magnet… Because, after all, who doesn’t want to have Mrs. Schwartz for their third grade teacher? She listens. She cares.