An employee engagement survey, for example, is a way for company leaders and managers to understand their employees. An employee engagement survey gauges the organizational climate of the workplace, such as if an employee feels connected to their work, colleagues, and the wider business. Connection is key, Eubanks says.
“So much of how we feel about our company is tied into that relationship with our manager,” he says. “If there’s a sync between what I expect and what I actually get, people are much happier. They feel like they’re connected, respected, and appreciated at work.”
What Companies Must Do to Support Frontline Managers
Frontline managers are in the position to significantly influence employee experience and retention of frontline workers, and consequently, the company bottom line. But what remains challenging is the lack of investment in developing and training frontline managers to become frontline leaders.
Frontline managers are more likely to be held accountable for sales metrics and proper staffing than receive training on showing support to their teams. That signals a need for all parts of the organization—human resources, business leaders, and managers—to create an environment of empowerment and engagement.
“The relationship changes when we stop fighting against each other and start fighting together for something we both believe in,” Eubanks says. “And in this case, it’s about creating an environment where people can succeed at work, where they can do their best work, where managers aren’t pulling their hair out every day, stressed out beyond belief. We all want to create that, and it’s not about pointing the finger and saying, ‘Managers should do this, or HR [human resources] should give them that,’ but, ‘How do we come alongside each other and support each other?’”
The biggest action companies can do is reevaluating how they select managers. Oftentimes, companies pick managers by seniority. However, company leaders should select managers based on their demonstration of leadership qualities, such as openness and transparency. A poorly placed manager too often equals poor team performance and a revolving door of employees.
Another impactful action is enabling managers to find out what’s going on with their team. Besides employee engagement surveys, weekly one-to-one meetings between managers and their employees can help build trust and transparency. At times, company leaders have commented that the time spent on weekly meetings would be costly to the business. But Eubanks looked at the actual cost to the business of a manager meeting weekly with an employee for half an hour: less than $2,200 a year.
Replacing an employee through recruiting and re-training a new hire can cost thousands of dollars more, depending on the skills required for the position. Rising inflation is making the cost even higher.
“Managers, in general, want to do well, but we’re expecting them to do too much, or we’re not giving them the right tools in the beginning, and we’re setting them up for this no-win scenario,” Eubanks says. “I’m hoping that through some of this research, some of these pieces of encouragement, we can help business leaders think about ways to make sure they’re picking the right people to become managers, and developing and giving managers what they need to truly serve their frontline workers well.”