YESTERDAY’S article observed that loyalty and staff retention were not just about money, but whether staff perceived themselves to be appreciated, valued, supported and respected.

It discussed three of six ways individual managers can make employees happier in the workplace: showing appreciation and giving praise; being supportive; and providing training and development opportunities.

Today’s article looks at the remaining three ways to boost staff satisfaction and increase productivity, loyalty and talent retention:


• Involve and engage

The benefits of employee involvement and engagement are increased motivation and commitment. Even in his own department, an individual manager can increase the level of employee involvement and engagement.

Informing staff of all that is happening is a first step, whether this is done through team briefings or a weekly e-mail.

Consultation with staff over matters that concern them or their work, where the manager informs, listens and takes into account the ideas, proposals and concerns expressed by employees is another way of building motivation and commitment.

But such consultation will be seen as meaningless by those “consulted” if the manager’s mind is already made up.

A staff attitude survey can also be a good starting point, provided that the results are shared with staff and they are involved in resolving any issues raised.

• Ensure fairness in procedures and processes

Perceptions of unfairness can lead to reduced motivation and commitment, resulting in reduced productivity and loyalty — employees are willing to do less and often criticise the company to outsiders, including customers.

On the other hand, perceived fairness leads to increased commitment and motivation, greater effort (particularly discretionary effort), reduced absenteeism and higher talent retention.

Procedural fairness relates to the fairness of processes such as the performance appraisal system or the career management system.

Many performance appraisal systems have a de-motivating effect on staff.

One example is where the appraisal process did not begin with objectives agreed upon at the outset by both the employee and the supervisor.

Come appraisal time, the manager outlines where the employee could have done better. Certainly the employee could have done better if he had known that the manager would focus on these particular aspects of the job!

Surely it is only fair to let employees know exactly what they will be judged on at the end of the year.

Interactional fairness is about treating employees with dignity and respect. Procedures and processes may be fair, but sometimes the way they are administered by individual managers may be perceived to be disrespectful.

Shouting at staff, admonishing them in front of others, ignoring their opinions and sexually harassing them are all instances when staff are not treated with dignity and respect.


• Pay attention to atmosphere and ambience

What is the atmosphere like in your workplace? Is it overly quiet, cheerless, dour and depressing?

If so, productivity will be below what it could be and staff, if surveyed, will report the type of perceptions outlined at the beginning of Part 1 of this article. Basically, it will be an effort for them to go to work.

Or is your workplace a place where people crack jokes, banter with one another, where laughter can occasionally be heard, and staff members take coffee breaks together?

If so, employees will more likely “go the extra mile” when needed, even without being asked. They are probably committed and loyal to the company.

Productivity should be good and staff will be willing to make it better.

Many of these suggestions are inter-related.

For example, providing training and development opportunities can be perceived as being supportive, engaging and appreciative.

Consulting and listening to staff can be perceived as promoting fairness as well as engaging them.

Both of these examples will help develop an atmosphere in which employees feel valued and respected.

So even if the company is not a happy workplace, an individual manager can take steps to ensure that at least the part he is responsible for is.

Article by Nigel Nolan, senior consultant, Sandbox Advisors, a firm that helps people with careers, job search and training in Singapore. For more information, visit