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The Champion Forum Podcast

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TCFP178: Advice for Leaders in Any Industry

Thank you for tuning in to the Champion Forum Podcast! Across all industries, the employee’s relationship with their leader is becoming even more critical, from the first interview to yearly reviews. Today, we’ll discuss three areas leaders can focus on to increase employee engagement and produce peak employees who stick with their company for years.

1. Hiring

Job searchers are increasingly relying on their first impression of their future manager as they form their opinion of a job offer. According to a Gallup study on 50,000 managers, when managers create a positive experience during the hiring process, new hires feel excited and optimistic about working for a manager who appreciates their talents. Not only does this increase your odds of hiring the best talent, but it also sets the table for a fantastic onboarding process.

Try adding these questions to your interview process:

1. Tell me how your life brought you to this interview today.

2. What about this role can bring you to where you want to be in 3-5 years - personally and professionally?

3. What skill of yours has attributed the most to where you are in your life?

2. Onboarding

A recent study shows that approximately 40% of employees quit in their first year. Such a high level of turnover costs businesses like yours time, money, and social capital. So how do you keep people invested and engaged with your company from day one?

1. Make a memorable first impression

A welcome sign, balloons, a welcome lunch with you and some key leaders, a gift to the house for the family to enjoy, an explanation of the onboarding process,

2. Tell the company story

If your new employee can learn how the company has transformed into what it is today and what it hopes to be in the future, this story can help them see their growth opportunities. It also tells them that WHO you are is more important than WHAT you do. It creates a sense of pride that is contagious.

3. Create milestones

Remember to make the milestones realistic to their tenure. Starting a new job can be intimidating and frustrating, especially for people who want to make a significant impact. They don’t know what they don’t know. By establishing these celebrations of incremental improvement, you are helping to build confidence and momentum for the new team member.

3. Work/life balance

There once was a time that in order to advance your career, you needed to be the first one on and the last one out. You had to work all of the overtime. You had to volunteer to work weekends to prove that you were a team player. The great resignation of 2021 showed us that this is no longer the case. People desire a greater level of balance in their lives. The hustle culture of the past is burning people out and causing high turnover.

So, if you, the leader, model an “all work and no play” lifestyle, then employees will imitate you to fit in with the company norm. They may grin and bear just long enough to sign their next job offer.

Signs you may be promoting an “all work and no play” lifestyle

  • You send late-night and weekend emails.

  • You set unrealistic deadlines that force people to work after hours.

  • People feel guilty about taking a day off.

  • You work extremely long hours every single day.

  • You always wear your stress and exhaustion on your sleeve.

How to promote more excellent work-life balance

  • Flexible hours

  • Summer hours

  • Four 10-hour shifts

  • One work-from-home day a week

  • Longer lunch breaks

  • Allow unpaid time off when possible.

Of course, some of these may not apply to your business model, but the essence is that you need to get creative with this or run the risk of losing great people. Work-life balance isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity. It’s not about working less—it’s about working smarter to prevent burnout and retain employees long-term.

Application Activities

  1. Have you evaluated your hiring questions recently? Changing up the questions can help you stay fresh as an interviewer and help you improve at identifying whether your candidates are good fits for your organization. Revisit the questions provided in the first part of the podcast and see how you can fit them into your current interview strategy.

  2. Give your employees a pop quiz! How much do they know about the business, its purpose, and its roots? You could take it a step further by having a fun competition at the start of your next meeting or over a catered lunch. Then, you will build company culture, ensure your team knows the heart behind the company, and you will be able to identify any weak points you need to address.

  3. Your year one attrition is a good sign of how employees feel about your company. If you are concerned that your company might not be providing employees the work/life balance they desire, answer the following questions as true or false.

    1. I regularly send and receive emails after hours or on the weekend.

    2. I make last-minute requests in the last hour of the work day.

    3. I am expected to respond to emails while on vacation.

    4. I regularly ask team members to do work above and beyond their job responsibilities without discussing promotions or additional compensation.

    5. I had to make sacrifices in my personal life to get to where I am today.

    6. I use all of my vacation days every year.

    7. I expect my employees to do extra work before they take time off in order to prepare.

    8. My team works regular 9-5 office hours during the entire year.

If you answered more than half of these questions as true, you might need to spend more time working on your work/life balance and setting a positive example for your team. You may have to lead up and establish better boundaries with your boss so that you can help protect your team’s time as well.

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