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Joe Szynkowski: 4 (not-so-secret) secrets to employee retention and happiness
Column | WorkHappy

Joe Szynkowski: 4 (not-so-secret) secrets to employee retention and happiness

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Picture this. You are a key employee for a company immersed in an intense period of growth. Things are scaling quickly and you’ve got more on your desk that you can clear on a daily basis. You’re trying your best, but you know things are slipping through the cracks.

One Monday morning, your boss calls you into her office — or Zoom room — to discuss your performance. A productive conversation ensues, and you leave the meeting motivated to improve and confident in your status with the company.

Honest, transparent bosses are instrumental to building a positive workplace culture. This doesn’t mean every conversation is rainbows and unicorns. The best bosses know how to put you in a position to succeed. They sense when you’re in a professional rut and understand how to pull you out.

One of the keys to a happier work life is finding a boss who has these characteristics. Research shows that’s easier said than done.

A Harvard Business Review survey reveals 58% of people say they trust strangers more than their own boss. Strangers. You know, those people who you’ve never met or talked to? The ones your mom taught you to run away from should they approach you in the street?

We’d rather share a conversation or a meal with a complete stranger versus the person we see up to eight or 10 hours a day? Can you see why we need a career happiness revolution?

Better leadership is the first not-so-secret secret to keeping employees happier in the workplace. Read on for three more.

Well-trained managers

How do bosses get better? They go through training. A recent study by shows that 58% of managers said they didn’t receive any management training. Let that sink in. 

Most managers receive promotions because of how they perform or what relationships they’ve built at work. Not because of how well they interact with others or motivate their peers to do better work. This is obviously not the fault of those receiving the promotion, but a failure of leadership preparing them for an expanded role.

Build a hiring & development process

Many organizations simply neglect the importance of a solid human resources division. Investing in HR professionals to standardize on-boarding, training and development processes is vital to a successful business. There are even virtual organizations that can help structure a company’s HR functions, including everything from documentation, hiring plans, job announcements and compliance standards.

As a company grows, it needs to take a serious look at buttoning up its HR processes. Hiring new talent should be repeatable and easy to replicate. This will lead to crystal-clear expectations and job descriptions, which ultimately put people in a position to thrive. 

Review & repeat

Performance management is often a checklist item done annually by employers with no real strategy or follow-up. Many companies hold yearly assessments and follow a boilerplate process to meet employment standards versus really digging into the data to improve their organizations.

The best organizations offer their employees more frequent opportunities to discuss performance and goals. They make employees feel heard, valued and appreciated.

This is related to the scenario laid out at the top of this column. Performance reviews — we’ve all been through some arduous ones — should be enjoyable and beneficial to both employers and employees. If you don’t know you’re falling short, how can you improve?

And if you don’t know how to make your employees happy, how can you run a successful company?

Joe Szynkowski is a Sr. Director for NuVinAir Global, a Dallas-based company disrupting the automotive industry. Thanks to technology, he does so happily from his home east of Marion. Check out for his WorkHappy Spotlights or email for more guidance on finding career joy.


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