There's a book I read many years ago called, "The Five Love Languages," and it was about the way you recognize, and give and receive love to your partner. In reading it, it was apparent to me that these traits are very similar to what the languages between employees and their managers - what each party wants/prefers and how much mismatch exists, which is the reason for high disengagement.
These are the five languages and how they can apply to manager and their direct reports.
Words of Affirmation: Verbal, via email or via text, a simple "you're doing great," or "nice work" not only from their manager, but an employee's boss' boss has the power to motivate people far beyond money or perks could. It takes less than 30 seconds but leaves a lasting impression on the employee.
Quality time: Set up regular one-on-one's, both for personal and professional development conversations. The key is for managers to be sure they're not making it about them. This doesn't mean managers don't open up and share things about their life, because employees want to hear that, too, but managers should make those 30 minutes, or however long you meet for, are about the employee.
Physical Touch: HR loves this one ;) But physical touch is as simple as a high five for a job well done. Every employee is different, which is why it's critical to figure out employee's individual love languages, but for those who appreciate the high-fives, it goes a long way.
Acts of Service: This could be a CEO making a call to help an employee out, or a manager giving their direct report an idea and letting them take the credit for it. Why? Because it shows the boss is invested and wants the employee to succeed. It builds trust, which allows the employee-manager relationship to grow to an unbelievable level, allowing incredible results to be achieved.
Receiving gifts. We pay them, why do we need to give them gifts, too?! It doesn't need to be monetary gifts, it could be a handwritten thank you card, a bottle of champagne on their anniversary, or sending a care package to their house if they've been out sick. It goes a long way and shows employees that their manager is thinking about them and that they care.
It takes time to figure out everyone's motivators, and it takes discipline to be consistent in speaking each employee's language. However, that time is better spent than trying to refill positions due to turnover. No one said being a manager was easy, and if it were, everyone would be doing it.
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