By Judith Rasband
© 2008-2017 Conselle Institute of Image Management

Employees are a company’s greatest resource. If a company can’t create satisfied employees, the employees will find a company that can. “I’m outta here!” fumes Joe Blow, dissatisfied with the lack of recognition from both management and staff.

The cost of employee turnover ranges from $10,000 to $40,000 per employee holding an average job within a moderate sized company. The cost may be higher for small companies wherein the employee may serve in several roles. According to the Harvard Business Review, a 5 percent increase in retention can result in a productivity gain of 25 percent to 65 percent. The cost is clear. Companies cannot afford to lose employees.

While a lower salary may lead to job dissatisfaction, a top salary does not guarantee job satisfaction and retention. Research reveals that a work environment that helps raise a person’s self-esteem will actually result in more satisfied workers. It’s a simple concept they say, people who feel good about themselves at work will work harder, be more efficient, and will ultimately be more satisfied.

So, how do you raise employee self-esteem? Studies show that employees need to feel they are an important member of the company team, actively involved and making a positive contribution. They need to feel that their efforts are recognized and appreciated. This requires management to treat employees with respect and praise. Management must communicate openly their expectations and employee responsibilities, then reward efforts and accomplishments liberally. This information is reinforced by reports that 79 percent of employees who leave their jobs cite, “lack of recognition” as a key factor.

“Right on!” says the image management professional. Lack of recognition may be the simple result of someone not looking capable of making a real contribution deserving recognition. It’s a common sight. Wearing jeans or khakis with a shabby T-shirt or polo, the look is demeaning, like an intern still in training. Wearing spandex two sizes too small, exposing too much skin and finished with flip-flops, the look is distracting, drawing valuable time away from business.

The fastest way to raise employee self-esteem is to improve the way they look. It’s a simple, time-tested concept. Look better, feel better, do better on the job. It isn’t enough to provide product or technical training, continuing education in sales and marketing, without also including image management education—the most visible credential of all.

Providing this professional development opportunity is an outstanding way to encourage, motivate, and reward employees. Looking comfortably fit, appropriately professional, more intelligent, organized, and energetic, employees will benefit from increased self-esteem and self-confidence. (While the program is not designed to make employees more attractive, it tends to be a by-product that works wonders.) Employees will experience increased capability; improved performance, and productivity. They will be noticed, recognized as being professional, receiving more respect and better treatment from others, including praise for effort and achievement.

Looking and feeling better, both mental and physical health can be expected to improve. Absenteeism will decrease—just another reason companies should offer an image management program. 25 percent to 45 percent of the money spent on salaries goes to absent employees, the actual amount depending on the size of the company. An image management program is actually quite a wellness program, well worth the investment to keep employees on the job and satisfied with themselves and their work. Making the work environment a positive and pleasant place to spend the workday, workweek, makes good business sense.