How do your facility systems play a part in keeping your employee morale high? Do you even think it plays a part? First, let me explain that in this instance, what I mean by facility systems are the institutions within your company to keep employees engaged. This would include training programs, financial compensation, benefits, managerial support and development, as well as processes. So what is the connection with employee morale? Let's discuss.
In the 1950's Dr. Walter Menninger conducted a study and through his research he developed what is called the "Menninger Morale Curve" that employees experience. In this model, he defines four stages of employee development. These stages are arrival, engagement, acceptance, and re-entry. For the purposes of this discussion we are focusing only on the arrival, engagement, and acceptance stages (see chart below).
In the arrival stage, the employee is eager to show their worth. This is also referred to as the "honeymoon stage". They have high expectations. Why shouldn't they? They just experienced an onboarding telling them how awesome your company is! At least they should have. Now is the time to live up to it. First impressions are very important! This new employee is also what can be referred to as "unconsciously incompetent". That is, they don't know what they don't know about the operations. They are ready to go and learn all they can. Very quickly though, something tends to happen to them.
As your new employee experiences the daily responsibilities and requirements of their new job, they can become overwhelmed. Also, let's face it, encounters with some negative employees don't help. They may tend to think, "how can anybody remember all of this?" This can then inevitably cause their morale to begin to dip. They have now become what can be referred to as "consciously incompetent". They now KNOW what they don't know! This all tends to happen around the 90 day mark. It is therefore CRITICAL that we engage our employees with our internal "systems" to keep from losing them. It is at this engagement stage where we can either get them turned in the right direction, or lose them altogether, thus, creating turnover. We want to begin engaging them BEFORE they reach the bottom of this engagement curve. The lower they sink, the harder it will be to capture them.
This is why it is so important to have a clear and achievable pathway to the development of a new employee. At onboarding and throughout their first 90 days is the optimum time to ensure they take part in necessary job training. Not skimping on their development or "throwing them to the wolves" so to speak. Those are sure turnover machines. When we define what they need to know, when they need to know it, how they will learn it, and with whom they will learn it, this makes our new employees feel more secure in your investment in them. Also, managerial support during this time is critical! They should know who their manager is, know how to get in touch with them, and have by now had meaningful dialog with them. This serves to encourage those overwhelmed by the job. It makes them feel that the company believes in their abilities and their performance usually reflects that belief.
What can truly make this work is if we give our new employees a visible pathway to increased compensation throughout the development and performance process. We can tie financial increases to stages of growth on the job. By attaching levels to job knowledge along with pay differentials, it not only gives the employee goals to reach for, but will in turn help us to see the qualification level of our workforce. We can quickly ascertain where we need to focus our training efforts. It's also a must if we intend to cross-train.
If we engage our new employees with effective internal systems before they reach the engagement "pit" or dip, we move the employee much quicker toward the acceptance stage. This is where they get a good grasp on their responsibilities, have accepted the way things are, and have become empowered to make decisions on the job to get the outcomes they wish for. It is at this stage where your employee moves on to being what is referred to as "consciously competent". They now KNOW what they KNOW. They are thinking employees. Paying close attention to each step they perform. It is important that we continue training them for advanced techniques during this time. This keeps them moving forward. Remember, our employees are an investment in our company's success.
It takes time and effort to properly engage and train employees. Sure, this can cause some discomfort in production due to the need for staff quickly at times. However, to keep throwing bodies at an issue without the proper development only leads to higher turnover which lowers overall company morale and exacerbates the issues we already have. Good training systems, good benefits, and good and fair compensation with growth potential are the tried and true systems that when applied properly and timely to employees will result in lower turnover and higher morale. Isn't this what we all want?
For assistance in developing your onboarding and training systems, contact Success Strategy Training and Development. Let's have a conversation about your needs!
Keenan McBride, CPTM