High staff turnover is not only costly in terms of recruitment: it can also damage your company's bottom line. But what can you do about this? Exit interviews may fail to identify the specific reason for a person leaving, but point to a general feeling of dissatisfaction with the company. That's were you may wish that your company and workplace had more of a feel-good factor, i.e. an environment where employees have a sense of contentment and wellbeing.
Employee retention through feel-good management
In Germany this concept has already resulted in the emergence of so-called 'feel-good' managers. And although highly controversial, the fact remains that many of the tasks of a feel-good manager are covered by what is expected of a modern HR manager. Whether it's contented employees, efficient work structures or a strong corporate culture - feel-good management is now part of any good HR portfolio. The reasons are obvious: there is a need to attract talented people from Generation Y and Z, whilst at the same time retaining employees long term. The issue of staff retention has become one of the main challenges of demographic change. People are simply no longer convinced by the traditional "money and holiday" argument.
Candidates expect a feel-good atmosphere
There are other factors that make an employer attractive: the ability to combine work and family life, flexible working in terms of both hours and location, a good work-life balance, personal career development and support in caring for dependants are the new standards set by employees. And, last but not least, the expectation of a feel-good atmosphere that is increasingly being placed on companies. These requirements have also changed the role of HR. Employee wellbeing has become an official HR goal and a marketable asset in the job market.
A feel-good manager's job profile
This means that in many ways HR managers function as feel-good managers. But what does a feel-good manager do exactly? The tasks are not clearly defined because a company's individual employees and culture make the role extremely variable. The German 'Fraunhofer Institute for Work Management and Organisation' (IAO) has produced a job profile and defined various tasks:
- Define and develop structures for a working environment in which employees feel a sense of wellbeing
- As personal contact person, assume the role of a manager people can speak to in confidence, maintain direct contact
- Improve communication. Develop open and transparent communication channels, create touch points and opportunities to exchange ideas and information.
- Organisation of shared experiences and team events.
- Improve employee wellbeing based on mission statements, values and company culture.
- Regularly analyse employee needs through a feedback culture.
- Create an optimal and stress-free working environment.
- Establish long-term feel-good structures: build and further develop voluntary self-organised 'care' teams
- Establish learning opportunities: conflict management, feedback culture, self-organised team structures, retrospectives, coaching.
The complexity of the subject shows that managing wellbeing should not be done as a sideline. Companies who take the matter seriously must create appropriate positions and vest feel-good managers with the necessary responsibility. Due to the many interfaces with human resources management, it is well served by being incorporated within HR.
Three warnings for feel-good managers
Psychologist and expert on the economic effects of wellbeing, Dr Ilona Bürgel, also argues for corporate cultures in which employees have a sense of wellbeing. But she warns against taking people's individual responsibility away, by making a feel-good manager responsible for all aspects of "wellbeing".
A feel-good manager cannot make up for bad leadership
"Taking care of people in the company remains a top management priority. Even though the majority of managers are not yet aware of it, today's world is more a world of people than things. If a machine breaks down it's expensive and inconvenient. If the best manager is missing, it's even worse."
The call for wellbeing can create new stress
"No one is in the same good mood every day. The feeling of having to fulfil yet more expectations that you can only partly influence could back fire. Sport and games my be fun but they can also produce new pressures to perform. Even when it's voluntary, peer pressure can ruin things.
No one is responsible for our wellbeing other than us
"Something we already know from numerous health management initiatives: there is a danger that employees enjoy things, which continually raise their expectations, and are still never satisfied. Taking responsibility for oneself is to some extent forgotten when it is taken away from the individual.
Whether you choose to give someone in your organisation the title of feel-good manager or not, the fact remains that the concept of feel-good management could also benefit British companies in building and retaining successful workforces.
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