Creating Happy Employees

So what does it take to have happy employees and retain them? Do they stay for the Money, Power, Title or Respect? ponders Shankar Kaliaperumal


Employee retention is one of the biggest challenges faced by organisations irrespective of the size. There are very few organizations where employee retention isn’t an issue. Different organisations might have different methods to retain employees like perks, benefits, open culture, etc.. Immaterial of which method or concept is used to retain them, there would be one common thread with all these companies i.e. no fear. Their employees wouldn’t have fear, like fear of being fired, fear of being targeted by the manager, fear about speaking up to a senior colleague, fear about voicing their opinion or fear about their career progress. Employees working with fear will eventually move out.

A happy employee will never look for alternatives, even if the situation arises he/she will be upfront with the company regarding why they are looking out for an opportunity and clear the air. Personal situations may cause employees to move out but if the environment is conducive then it’s a reflection that there is no issue with the company’s policies.

So…. how do we take the fear out of the employees? Remember dropping off your child for their first day of school at kindergarten? They most likely cried out of fear because they weren’t sure whether you would come back for them. The new environment amidst strangers was most probably terrifying. Eventually they would settle down and settle in, for some it might take a week, for some it might even be months! The reason they lose their fear is familiarity with the their environment and knowledge that you do come back for them and the concept of schools gains a new understanding and love.

Similarly new employees (who don’t know anyone within the company personally) will always start with a fear as it’s a new environment, new manager, etc. If they see someone being targeted, their fear will build that they might be next. If they see opinions not being valued based on the cadre/level of the employee, they might feel powerless to express their thoughts.  Also usually through their casual office conversations with fellow colleagues, they could form an opinion depending on how your current set of employees project the culture of the company. It’s where successful companies have a great advantage over others, as their employees would project the glass being half full versus half empty.

How do we really know whether employees are working with fear or not? How do we know they don’t fear taking a decision? How do we know they don’t fear raising their opinion when they see something isn’t correct?

When majority (90% or more) of your employees voice their opinion/thoughts about the company, progress, process, culture, management, manager, etc, without having to think twice about whether they would be targeted or victimized for speaking out, it means that they felt empowered to state what’s on their mind. Empowered employees don’t have fear. The problem with most of the companies is that there are always a handful that feel empowered and the remaining work in fear under them. When someone feels empowered, they will display confidence in whatever they do and also take bold decisions without having to fear being questioned later. Also fear brings a lot of negativity and defensive approach within employees, which will have cascading impact across the organisation.

There will always be an exception and someone might still feel unsafe or defensive irrespective of how positive the culture is. Please remember that overall culture will have an influence over a new employee and will either assist in acclimatizing them to their culture or influence them to move out. Does it mean new entrees will never fit? We never know, but as mentioned earlier they will get accustomed or will move out of the organization. It’s always better to have an employee leave the organization if they don’t fit in the culture. In order to avoid such a scenario most of the successful companies today have a “Culture Interview” to cross check whether a potential candidate will fit into their culture and that becomes the most important factor for hiring irrespective of how they may have fared in the job role interviews.

An organisation’s success should always start inward, with its employees, who will in turn take care of clients/customers. Even the most successful companies will have employees leaving, but they wouldn’t have to face the surprise factor which most of the other companies would be facing, as it would be well planned and executed while working alongside the company.

If you want to be a successful company, please take care of your employees first.