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Shape up, bosses, or your talent will ship out (and other workplace tips for 2011)

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The global financial crisis meant that many people were forced to cling to their jobs as a safety measure, but the game is about to change.

Workers are in a state of renewed confidence, the balance of power is shifting towards the employee and many people will seek new employment in the first quarter of 2011.

In fact, the speed of this shift and the impact it could have on the corporate world could take a lot of companies by surprise.

Here are four ways to shape up or watch your talent ship out.

1. Invest in development

Employee attitudes are becoming inspired by a changed value set, and conventional sweeteners such as high salary or generous leave are not necessarily the major keys to employee attraction or loyalty. In fact, the number one thing workers will want out of their job as we head into the future is a company with great leaders and a solid plan to develop their people.

From what I’ve seen from working with dozens of workplaces around Australia, many companies don’t provide regular feedback to their staff, let alone have a formal employee development program.

This is a costly mistake.

As busy managers give less and less time to developing their people, companies are losing the very employees they need to succeed in the long term. I strongly believe companies should do everything in their power to ensure they are engaging their staff this year or potentially risk an exodus of talent.

2. Let them achieve more

In contrast to the popular belief that a high salary is the number one job perk, many employees will instead be expecting ‘unconventional’ bonuses from their job in 2011.

First, autonomy will be a huge draw card. Being given a job to do but not being trusted to do it properly is a major reason why workers will move on in 2011. Micromanagement has been begrudgingly tolerated in the past but it is starting to send people straight to the competition.

A sense of achievement may sound ‘fluffy’ but it must not be underestimated – the reality is it will also be at the top of the wish-list. My observations are the vast majority of people work very hard and want to do a good job – but many are lacking that all-important feel good factor at work.  Allowing people to achieve, and removing all the barriers to making that happen, produces the right physiology for people to achieve even more, and this provokes performance chemicals that actually foster employee loyalty.

Rewards don’t have to be a pay increase or a monetary bonus either. Sincere and regular feedback goes a very long way. 2011 will see people wanting to move to a job with good internal systems where their achievements are measured, and celebrated.

3. Create team culture and consistency

This year will also be about teams and team culture. In other words, a real sense of belonging at work.

Feeling part of a team is absolutely crucial to any workplace and employees will really want a sincere boss who takes the time to build relationships. If people feel alienated from one another or their managers, it won’t be long before they leave.

Many companies only focus on building their team once or twice a year but it really needs to be an ongoing process. Creating a solid team culture this year (and every year) should be the number one priority for every company regardless of structure or size.

Consistency will also be a huge buzz word in 2011. The GFC caused a lack of consistency in many workplaces and the end result is an overwhelming number of unsettled workers. This year will be all about fairness, delivering on expectations and keeping the goalposts still. If people get a whiff of double standards or favoritism, they will think about moving on.

4. Set a plan for your employees

Finally (and perhaps most importantly), professional development and training offered will be one the top reasons people stay or leave a company in 2011. The big question many candidates will be asking of their potential employers isn’t always going to be “What’s the remuneration?” These days it will be more along the lines of “What’s your plan for me?”

How companies develop their staff will be a major magnet for new talent seeking a position where they can thrive and stay long-term. People want a career with a growth path and a solid plan in place to develop their skills. And it can’t be wishy-washy – employers will be expected to stump up real, measurable strategies for how they intend to cultivate good performers.

Get all of this right, and workplaces are on the way to becoming employers of choice in 2011.

The reality is, the financial crisis left somewhat of a hangover in many workplaces and many people are now getting ready to move on – the grass is looking much greener and a large number of workplaces will have to shape up or the talent may indeed shift out.

Tony Wilson has invested over 15 years to high performance management and is a sought after executive coach and Director of Teamcorp Australia. His new book, Jack and the Team that Couldn’t See, is out now, RRP $22.95, and available to order at www.tony-wilson.com.au.

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