One of the biggest issues facing companies today is the difficulty in retaining a quality workforce. While compensation is often thought to be the most crucial factor in employment, there are other incentives steadily becoming priorities for employees (e.g., workplace flexibility, benefits, career development opportunities).[i] However, it is not only positive offerings that affect the decision-making process to stay at a company. Negative factors can impact employee retention just as powerfully. Studies have shown that aside from pay disparity, the main reason employees give for leaving a job is a poor manager-employee relationship.[ii] Dissatisfactory working relationships can be costly to your company, resulting in increased or continual turnover and time and resources lost from the necessity of additional training. Having healthy manager-employee relationships positively contributes to the productivity of an organization and can make all the difference in the wellness and contentment of skilled and/or veteran workers.
Why is a healthy manager-employee relationship so important?
Open communication with immediate supervisors and employees feeling confident in having support from management are the hallmark traits of an effective work environment. When employees and managers are communicating clearly on and fully participating in the same objectives, there is an atmosphere of trust (i.e., psychological safety) and the ensuing work becomes more efficient. Within the entire realm of corporate hierarchy, it is the working relationship between an individual and their direct supervisor that has the greatest impact (for good or ill) on job satisfaction and the will to stay with a company.[iii] The fact that a single supervisory role can make or break even the most loyal employee’s long-term prospects with a company should be enough reason to support the idea that regular management training is a necessity for a more productive organization.
How to develop practices that encourage healthy manager-employee relationships.
Before beginning to initiate strategies for manager-employee relationship building, it is important to consider the current state of affairs. Offering employees the ability to contribute anonymous feedback through surveys is one way for employers to find out what is working and what is not. An internal review can shine a spotlight on any systemic issues in managerial operations or trouble spots with specific individuals.
Depending on what research reveals, the focus for improvements may need to be placed on any of the following common workplace challenges:
- Maintaining open or correcting strained communication channels.
- Recognizing employees for their contributions.
- Creating servant-leadership training for managers.
- Boosting transparency and accountability for management decisions.
- Developing a system for acknowledging and acting upon the concerns and suggestions raised by employees.
How EH&S management tools support healthy manager-employee relationships.
EH&S management software can support managers in the initiation of any of the previously listed tactics for relationship building. For example, if supervisors need further management training, a training management module with customizable training course development and tracking capabilities streamlines this process and can serve to improve the soft skills necessary for handling the interpersonal aspects of supervising. If communication issues are found to be the primary cause for strained management-employee relationships, data analytics within a bulletin communication module can be used to help determine what types of messages are being received and/or responded to most often. Additionally, with the benefit of a safe, easily accessible, two-way communication channel, employees will be more engaged in projects and assured that attempts to reach out to managers will be more successful than traditional methods of communication. Other features such as automatic reminders on actionable items and live status updates can reduce the compulsion of managers to micromanage employees, encouraging a more respectful relationship.
Pay and incentive packages are still going to be high-priority factors, but when working on an employee retention strategy, an audit of current manager-employee relationships is equally important. Healthy supervisory relationships within a company are critical to the well-being of employees and go a long way in the determination of an individual to either stay or go. Investing resources into tools that can positively affect this area of business can help companies retain top talent.
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[i] 5 Key Drivers of Employee Retention. (2019). AXA Singapore. Retrieved June 15, 2022, from https://www.axa.com.sg/blog/small-business/5-key-drivers-of-employee-retention
[ii] ADP Research Institute | Data-Driven Business Insights. (2022, June 13). ADP Research Institute. Retrieved June 15, 2022, from https://www.adpri.org/?referrer=%7B56CC77E3-6ACC-4295-B70F-2A4A8242FC74%7D#
[iii] Premalatha, P. (2016, January 1). Role of manager-employee relationships in retaining knowledge workers in IT industry – Document – Gale Academic OneFile. Gale. Retrieved June 15, 2022, from https://go.gale.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA463399963&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=00195286&p=AONE&sw=w&userGroupName=anon%7Eb13c227d