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How to Retain and Motivate Your Staff in the Great Resignation and Renegotiation

With the changing demands of the future workforce, leaders need to be open and agile to try out new employment formats and work arrangements.

‘The Great Resignation’ was first coined in 2021 during the height of the Covid pandemic, describing a phenomenon where millions of employees around the globe quit their jobs voluntarily. This behaviour is contrarian to popular belief that jobs and livelihoods are things that people hold dearly to, in times of crisis. Many left their jobs for better work-life balance after the pandemic has led them to reevaluate their priorities in life. Others now demand flexible working hours and remote working preferences. This led to the ‘Great Renegotiation’ phenomenon – employees have higher demands from their employers because of changing expectations in remuneration and work arrangements.

As the Singapore labour market tightens, how can companies retain and motivate their staff as the Great Resignation and Renegotiation phenomenon looms?

We took a leaf from Kazuo Inamori’s book, titled The Seven Keys to Motivating Employees. 

So who is Kazuo Inamori? Along with Akio Morita, co-founder of Sony and Soichiro Honda, Inamori ranks as one of Japan’s greatest entrepreneurs since World War II. Inamori founded two multi-billion-dollar companies: the Kyocera Corporation and DDI Corporation. 

Beyond monetary compensation, Inamori gave the following advice to companies:

Business owners should try to cultivate a sense of ownership in employees

Employees should possess the same sense of responsibility as the business owner and take ownership of their respective areas. In short, they should be responsible for protecting and growing the business independently.  

Inamori advised that the branch managers, not the headquarters, should set their own sales targets and budget figures based on data from individual branches. The headquarters’ job is to scrutinise the information, ensuring that all areas were thoroughly examined to reduce expenditure, prevent waste, and maximise profit margins. The plans to achieve those targets should likewise come from the branch managers based on their understanding of the business. Once the plans have been made, Inamori advised that the headquarters should do everything in their power to support the branch managers.  

By allowing staff to set their own targets and budgets, they will feel more involved in the process, and thus, will feel more vested.

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Business owners need to gain the respect and admiration of their employees

It is crucial to embrace employees as business partners. They should be aligned with the same vision and work together with the owners, sharing good and bad times.

It is the responsibility of the business owners to win respect and admiration from their employees. No one will trust management if their only concern is their self-interest. Ideally, the employees should put their faith in the owner and follow him in the venture willingly, doing what is required of them. If Employers wish to gain this type of admiration and respect, they must exhibit leadership that involves putting their employees first, before themselves. 

Telling employees about the significance of their work brings meaning to their job

Employers should be upfront with their staff – to share the struggles of a growing company, specifically the challenges and tradeoffs in different areas of the company. The company needs to be honest to its employees and appeal to both their hearts and minds. Employers should also spend time explaining the significance of their employees’ work, and how they contribute to the company’s overall success. While the extent of the employee’s tasks may be very operational in nature, it is critical to help them connect the dots to help them understand that it is these small efforts that lead to the company’s success.

A grand vision for the company gives everyone a North Star to strive towards

By sharing the company’s vision with its employees, the employer can align goals and expectations, and give something specific for the team to work towards. Naturally, if all employees share the same dream, they will be highly motivated to remove obstacles and achieve the goals together. While the business owner sets the general direction, employees should be encouraged to innovate and contribute to the overall goal.  

Business owners should continually share their principles with their employees

The principles that owners preach during good times should apply during bad times. Those who stand by their principles at a time when the business is suffering are examples of true leaders. 

Inamori encourages all business owners to learn and think about philosophy to sharpen their minds and understand the motivations behind work. They should then endeavour to share their own work philosophy with their employees. This positive work philosophy will influence the mindset of employees and drive them to work for causes that transcend the more conventional.  

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Elevating one’s character is important

A company is usually an extension of the business owner. The owner’s beliefs and values seep into every facet of the company. If employers only care about maximising profits, the company will prioritise profit-making. If they care about the customer, the company will become customer-centric. Therefore, the owner (or the top executive) is the defender and representative of the company. 

The character of a business owner is critical. If the company is profitable and the owner only prioritises lining his own pocket, the company will face many morale issues. Inamori believes strongly that the business owner must continuously seek to improve his character. 

Companies should be steadfast and righteous even when competitors use unethical methods to save costs and undercut them. A company should not be tempted to do illegal, unethical, or immoral things just to come out ahead. Instead, they need to clearly explain why their products are more expensive than others and what it means to purchase something from a company that insists on doing the right thing. Most customers would want to support a company that stands on the side of social justice. 

Proper succession planning is needed to motivate and groom talents in the organisation

Business owners need to prioritise succession planning to nurture and groom talents within the organisation. Employees will feel more motivated once they see progress and potential to grow. Along with changing social and environmental factors, future leaders should also be more open and agile to try out new employment formats and work arrangements. This will appeal to the changing demands of the future workforce.

This article is co-created by NexPage, a translated book summary app, and Workipedia.

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