Article by Vijayakumar Tangarasan, IWG Country Head of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei

A happy, engaged employee is an essential cog in any successful company and a great employee is worth hanging on to. But, how do you keep your staff productive, loyal and, most of all, content?

Studies show that employee satisfaction comes from many different factors and salary isn’t always the driving force. According to the Robert Walters Salary Survey 2019, feedback and encouragement from management, and training opportunities are among some of the factors determining job satisfaction right after renumeration. Investing in career coaching and training courses within the organisation is one way to encourage an employee’s loyalty and keep satisfaction levels high.

There are other ways to keep your employees happy without breaking the company’s HR budget. Small yet impactful changes to the workplace culture can be the key deciding factor to retaining and attracting quality talent.

Keep a transparent workplace culture

One of the most important ways to maintain staff loyalty is to keep them in the loop about how the company is performing, even when business is not booming. It’s been proven that openness and transparency in the office increases an employee’s happiness at work. Encourage open conversations with and among your employees on your big-picture company direction through frequent communications on company happenings, one-on-one coffee meetings or an after-work social.

Transparency in the office makes employees feel worthwhile and recognised for their contributions to the company’s growth. By giving them room for free thinking and allowing involvement in the company can make all the difference to an employee’s happiness.

Create a healthy work-life balance

According to the Robert Walters industry research in 2018, Malaysians consider work-life balance as a top factor determining job satisfaction, right after renumeration. Having a good work-life balance is something many of us strive to achieve and for good reason. It is key to a healthy mind, spirit and body, so when employers offer staff flexible working options, staff are less likely to play musical chairs with their careers.

Flexibility not only makes workers happier and healthier, but also allows them to be in a productive environment rather than racking up endless working hours. IWG’s Global Workplace Survey shows that flexible working is seen to improve work-life balance by 78% and is seen to seen to encourage a more inclusive working environment, with benefits for returning parents, older workers, people suffering from stress or struggling with mental health issues.

Dedicate an area of the office away from the computers so that employees can take a breather. There’s something to be said about having a water-cooler moment, where casual conversation between staff and management can stimulate bonding and naturally make people feel more at ease.

Try to reduce emails and meetings

Many employees feel that a flooded inbox and a constant string of meetings waste time and hinder productivity. It is, therefore, a good idea to deploy technology such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, which can not only help with productivity levels, but also decrease the amount of time spent in meetings and the amount of back and forth emails. Both of these applications allow for near-instantaneous communication and offer powerful collaborative tools that make it easy for employees to work effectively, from virtually anywhere around the world.

With less time spent in meetings and on checking emails, it would then be a good idea to organise an event that can be attended by everyone in the office. The options are limitless – a movie night, a badminton session, yoga lessons or go-kart racing – as long as it’s an activity that involves a team, it’s likely to be fun. The trick is to mix things up so that everyone in the office gets the chance to participate in an activity that they love. The more fun they have at work, the more reason there is to stay.

All said and done, perhaps the way to retain talent is to humanise an organisation and put your people first. Sir Richard Branson summarised this brilliantly: “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”


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