With a new decade upon us, it’s a good time to reflect on how you, as an owner or manager, treat those who work for you.

With unemployment low and competition to hire fierce, and challenges in attracting Millennial and Gen Z workers, culture is a major area that needs consideration. The younger generations are interested in working for companies that treat their employees well and with respect.

Questions you can ask yourself and those key staff members around you:
– Do I treat my employees as I would want to be treated?
– Do I know all the employee’s names, their career goals, and about their family?
– Have I shared with my team how important and appreciated they are by corporate?
– Does my team feel that they can come to me with issues, ideas, or challenges?
– Do any of our employees have special circumstances where they need support? If so, what can we do to help them?
– Does every employee feel that we have their back?
– Have I gone out of my way to congratulate an individual on a job well done?
– What is our reputation as an employer?
– If I have an employee who is facing a personal crisis, do we handle it in a way that shows support and caring?

You may find some interesting answers. When we have done surveys of employee engagement for our clients, one of the most important aspects of working for a particular employer comes down every time to those that are happy and feel that the company is there to support them.

Case in point. One program director had an illness in his family. His superiors told him to take the time, do what needed to be done, and to not worry about work. They divided up his duties so that nothing fell through the cracks. He was able to focus on his family needs and come back to a job that didn’t suffer too much in his absence. He will walk through fire for his employer.

Another example. A company that has a “No Jerk” rule. They are up front that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated. If, any time, a situation comes up that needs attention, it is dealt with immediately and handled professionally. People feel confident that they can go to management with issues and guidance. Again, an office where employees feel valued and that their company has their back is vital.

And a final example is an owner who takes the time to send a handwritten note to every employee that has gone over and above the call of duty, who has closed a big piece of business, or to those who have contributed a solid idea to help the bottom line. He knows names — who is doing what — and that means so much to all his staff. They are loyal to their owner.

Treat people poorly and it will spread like wildfire and do a lot more damage than you may have dreamed possible.

Job seekers are doing their homework and researching potential employers before they ever agree to a meeting. They are going on Glassdoor.com to read reviews of what past and current employees have to say about your work environment. They are speaking with locals in and out of our industry about what it is like to work for your company. There are articles all over the Internet, on social media, on airwaves, in print and in trade publications about what companies are doing to gain buy-in from employees and prospective employees. They see what popular companies do to create a positive environment.

If you aren’t sure what is important to your team, survey them. Add a suggestion box and reward those who offer good ideas that get implemented. If you are in a networking group, ask open questions about things they do to create loyalty, happiness, and engagement which will all help your retention.