Retain Your Top Talent: How to Fulfill Employees
In the 2023 version of our annual deathcare survey, the #2 top reader concern was how to attract and retain top talent. Since our goal here at Connecting Directors is to help make your job easier by recognizing and supporting the unique value of death care workers, we dug into current business wisdom to find the secret sauce behind keeping superstars committed and attracting new top-tier talent.
And the answer is, happily, quite straightforward: foster a work environment and business culture that recognizes the value of all employees, and then prioritizes them. In other words, make your employees the most important part of your business, and do so repeatedly.
Purpose and meaning
Do you appreciate your best performers? Do they know it?
We all need a sense of purpose. Some of our purpose can come from the passion we feel for our roles, doing what we feel called to do. Working in an industry we feel strongly drawn to supplies us with a continually-renewing source of personal motivation. But just doing something we love is not enough.
One of the main reasons people leave any job is to seek out a sense of purpose elsewhere, and this is where your unique work environment and company culture come in: we all feel fulfilled when we feel we’re making a difference. Working in an environment where we feel recognized and valued, where we have meaningful relationships, and where we feel we are growing is a recipe for sustained happiness, and one backed by science – dopamine and oxytocin, powerful feel-good neurochemicals, are produced under such conditions.
Want happy employees? Provide such conditions for them without fail, then protect that environment as the highest of priorities.
Every business is unique, and each business culture has its own strengths. The same is true of each employee. But what if you have employees you don’t feel deserve to be valued quite so highly? Value them anyway, address issues, and communicate openly and transparently.
Underperforming employees do need feedback, and problems should be addressed right away. First identify the reason for their performance, make sure to get the employee’s thoughts on the issue, then set upon a course-correcting route to get them back on track.
Sometimes a good employee becomes a problem employee. It’s always more efficient in time, energy, and financially to improve an already-existing relationship than it is to cut your losses and start over.
Humans are social creatures, and we all need to feel we belong. If you want to inspire commitment to performance, inspire it by example, through demonstrated investment in the well-being of your staff.
Whatever the nature of disruption, if you show your employees you care about their happiness and job satisfaction, you’re reinforcing some of the strongest structures any business can have – solid relationships and effective communication.
Since deathcare is most definitely a niche specialization, and since the work is typically a family concern or a true personal calling, our population is something of a self-selecting sample. This means a few things are built into the pool from the get-go, both positive and negative: “legacies”, or those approaching the industry through a family business, may not always be committed to death care, some having sort of fallen into it by convenience.
If this happens, motivation is as it is: you can’t force personal dedication onto employees who, frankly, don’t want to be there, but just happened to land there. And it may not always be clear to such employees that they do, indeed, have a choice; with a family business, there can be a lot of assumption going on behind the scenes, and that’s the kind of thing that can easily result in resentments.
Again, communication and transparency are key. A sincere attempt to protect the satisfaction of all employees, whether they end up staying on or seeking their personal brand of fulfillment elsewhere, benefits everyone in the long term.
When your business work environment is built around supplying the means for every employee to continually renew their own stores of professional fulfillment and personal meaning, that’s the kind of business culture trait that gives a reputation a life of its own. It’s also the kind of thing that helps top-tier talent find you, rather than vice versa.