As a founder or manager, the last thing you want to see is good staff leave. Firms with a high employee or staff turnover (or high attrition rates) are usually those with an unhealthy work environment. No one wants to work in a place where he/she isn’t valued or is maltreated by supervisors. In a paper on “The Impact of Work Environment on the Average of Job Turnover in Five-Star Hotels in Al-Aqaba City” by Abu Rumman et al (2013). The Findings indicate that there is a statistically significant impact of the work environment on the average job turnover in five-star hotels in Al Aqaba city.

This is not just limited to Al-Aqaba city in Jordan or to the hospitability industry but across every sector in African countries. According to a Deloitte research on “Core Beliefs and Culture”, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct workplace culture is important to business success. To create a healthy work environment for your employees, ensure to do the following:

1. Establish clear values for your organization
When starting your company or even as you run it, everyone (from investors to friends) tell you that you need a company mission and core values. What you are not told is that documenting it is not enough, you need to live it. Two of Paystack’s core values are “Insist on High Standards” and “Pursue Growth and Learning”. They do not just say it but live it. Paystack’s developers have created one of the best payment processors for merchants out there, and with the kind of high-brow clients on their books from Bolt (Taxify) to Nairabet, you can tell that they do their best in delivering consistent excellence. When it comes to pursuing growth and learning, the firm ensures to provide performance bonuses and free access to professional development courses. These have helped the firm to build an environment that employees love working in, greatly reducing the chances of good staff leaving the organization.

2. Build good communication between staff

Employees do not like to work in an environment where they cannot communicate freely with another. Good communication breeds excellent collaboration, especially among team members. When people feel they can depend on each other and work with their fellow workmates with ease, they tend to stay. Whilst communication can be said to be individually-motivated and not necessarily pushed by the company, but the firm can imbibe that collaborative and team spirit within its employees through scrum meetings, team tasks and even communication platforms like Slack. is one Nigerian firm that is known for its excellent team spirit, and this is evident through its vastly popular HNG Internships. Interns are split into teams, given clear tasks and advised to communicate over Slack and Whatsapp. Sometimes, the HNG admins on the Slack groups push conversations and this has endeared them to the hearts of their interns. Recently, with the Games of Thrones vibe, interns who did not make it to the next round were said to be added to the #WhiteWalkers group. This got staff, interns and some people in and out of the Nigerian tech community talking, positively, of course, about how in-tune the firm was with its staff and popular culture.

3. Offer rewards and bonuses

It is human nature to enjoy being appreciated. Rewards are a driving force to this behavior. Whilst bonuses can be good incentives to encourage staff to improve output and perform at their best, it can also be counterproductive, as noted by Amanda Ruggeri in her BBC article on “Why we should all give up on goals already”. Some goals – if they’re tied to rewards – can also hinder creativity and problem-solving. In his book Drive, Daniel Pink points to Harry Harlow’s 1940s monkey experiments. When researchers gave monkeys a puzzle, the animals happily tried to solve it. But when the monkeys were offered a reward for figuring it out, they made more errors and solved fewer puzzles…“Rewards can perform a weird sort of behavioral alchemy: they can transform an interesting task into a drudge. They can turn play into work,” Pink writes. “And by diminishing intrinsic motivation, they can send performance, creativity, and even upstanding behavior toppling like dominoes.”

It is not wise to incentivize every task. With this in mind, connect the reward system with the company culture, which may not necessarily be monetary (it can be, though). For example, if your firm has a number of mothers with newborns, besides offering maternity leave, a nice bonus would be after-school care or a facility nearby (or in the premises), that can cater for these children. Once they know their kids are catered for, they are less likely to be distracted.

4. Boost employee morale

In 2015, Nigeria was ranked by Bloomberg as the world’s most stressful country. Whilst subsequent surveys have said otherwise, it is not a surprise to anyone that stress happens to be synonymous with the nation, particularly those living in Lagos state. The World Bank, in 2018, estimated that 22% of Nigerians suffer from chronic depression and this has long and short-term effects. To ensure you have a positive work environment, you need to boost employee morale. People have issues in their personal lives and develop some at work that could affect productivity. As such, it is necessary to ensure that there are no-bullying and anti-discriminatory policies in place. Staff who feel uncomfortable coming to work are more likely to quit.

Moreso, ensure to celebrate achievements by staff. The little things matter. Did the accountant just ace their ACCA? Acknowledge that. Is it the personnel manager’s birthday? Buy a cake or simply, just wish him a happy birthday. When staff feels like they matter and are not just another statistic, they are more inclined to enjoy doing what they do. Another way to boost morale is to make employees feel that they are having an impact and what they are doing is more than a job. If your firm offers huge social impact, utilize that to encourage them to work for that “higher purpose”. In fact, if you are just a distributor of Indomie, staff would enjoy what they are doing more if they have the mindset that without the work they are doing, a child may go hungry to school.

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