Psychology in Practice Co-Founder Kim Spiteri has stated that it is vital for businesses to learn and understand why employees choose to remain loyal “through thick and thin”, as this can help identify key areas of the company culture that need work.
Employee retention is a crucial element of running a successful business, and in today’s tight labour market, where finding talent has become increasingly difficult, it is arguably more important than ever for companies to keep hold of their workers.
Additionally, high turnover rates can be costly and disruptive to the overall productivity and morale of the company, potentially even diminishing the organisation’s competitive edge.
Ms Spiteri, an Occupational Psychologist, explored the issue of employee retention in a blog post on Tuesday, yet instead of focusing on why workers choose to leave, she reframed her thinking to concentrate on why employees choose to remain loyal, thus taking a proactive approach.
“In my years working in human resources (HR), uncovering the reasons individuals choose to quit and leave their jobs was always the key to crafting a workforce that not only endures, but truly flourishes,” she said.
However, flipping the coin, she remarked that as business leaders constantly chase productivity, it is easy for them to overlook the fundamental needs that employees have. “Recognising and meeting these needs is the secret sauce to fostering a workplace where individuals feel safe, valued, and purposeful, with a strong sense of belonging,” Ms Spiteri continued.
As a result, she breaks down four main reasons as to why employees stick with a particular employer: psychological safety, being truly valued, finding purpose, and belonging to something bigger.
To start off, Ms Spiteri drew from her experience in HR to list psychological safety as a crucial factor. Over the course of her career, she has witnessed a number of cases where there is an “erosion of trust” between team members due to communication breakdowns.
This is where psychological safety, an environment where team members can “voice their thoughts, participate, and challenge without fear of backlash”, comes in.
“It’s not about comfort or leniency; it’s about nurturing a culture where open dialogues flourish, forming the bedrock of a thriving workplace,” Ms Spiteri explained.
Additionally, she also stressed that employees tend to stay at a business where they feel truly valued.
“Beyond the financial compensation, the true value lies in acknowledging and appreciating individual efforts,” Ms Spiteri added.
Employees’ efforts should not only be recognised on an annual basis, but it needs to be done regularly, even daily if possible. Appreciation does not have to be in the form of an elaborate award or a financial bonus, as even words of affirmation and acknowledgement can make a huge impact in certain instances.
Another factor is whether employees feel that their contributions to the business are significant in helping to reach company goals.
“Life and work are about more than going through the motions. Give your team a reason to wake up excited,” Ms Spiteri said.
She explained that business leaders need to clearly define the “purpose and impact” of each employee’s role, enabling them to understand the end value of their work.
“When individuals see the significance of their contributions, they are more likely to find meaning in their daily tasks,” she affirmed.
Lastly, she highlighted that employees seek to feel like they are part of something that is more than just a business.
Ms Spiteri pointed out that belonging goes beyond “mere presence” and it is essentially about creating a sense of community at the workplace. She advised business leaders to create inclusive spaces and ensure everyone’s voice is heard.
This can be challenging since hybrid work arrangements have now become more popular, making it very common for businesses to not have the same people at the office at the same time. However, rather than being in one place all together, employees mostly value the knowledge that they are all working towards a unified goal.
“It’s not about being surrounded by people all the time; it’s about feeling connected to a shared purpose,” she added.
Concluding, Ms Spiteri said that business leaders need to evaluate their processes, upskill their people managers, and ensure basic human needs are firmly in place at the workplace.
“Let’s be proactive in understanding what makes our team members stay through thick and thin. It’s not just about the exit; it’s about cultivating an environment where everyone is eager to stay for the long haul,” she stressed.
Ms Spiteri is a seasoned HR partner, having gained more than 13 years of experience in the area, working across diverse sectors within the corporate world. Last August, she co-founded Psychology in Practice together with Mary Rose Gatt, aiming to establish a “vibrant professional development hub” where organisations can access a range of “learning, training, and psychological assessment services”.
Psychology in Practice Co-Founder Kim Spiteri / LinkedIn
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