You live, eat and breathe your business. If you’re a true entrepreneur, business is a way to satisfy your creativity, see your ideas come to fruition, and make client or customer’s lives better in some way. It’s most often a calling, rather than a simply a career.
How can you get your employees to feel the same way? After all, it isn’t their business. For the most part, employees are working because it’s necessary for their survival. They may enjoy their job, but at the end of the day, they want the paycheck. We assume you are paying a competitive wage and offering benefits commensurate to or better than others in your industry.
Employees can be the best ‘word of mouth’ advertising for your brand if they feel valued. It takes innovation to bring your staff on board with the philosophy of your business and truly feel invested in your success. Here are some ideas which may help you find – and keep – the best employees.
Hiring and training practices:
- Develop organized and structured written hiring practices. Ask questions during the interview which are designed to show whether the prospect can think and problem solve. (we have developed some really good questions for anyone who wants them)
- Offer excellent pay and benefits – and expect the best candidates to apply. Do not hire a mediocre candidate just to fill a position
- Job descriptions and tasks should be given to the new employee in writing
- Provide the proper training – not only in the job tasks required, but in customer service. Help them learn through role-playing and by shadowing a long-term employee until they are proficient. Make sure they have the tools and authority to deal with an unhappy customer
- Do make sure each employee – no matter the job description – knows your company ‘story’ and what your brand identity conveys. Make sure they understand it well enough to explain it to others
- Is your company known as a fun, cool place to work? If your employees embrace this as part of the culture of your company, you will attract the right people to your organization. Whatever your ‘employment brand’ personifies, it should be clear to all who are on your team
- If an employee isn’t working out, don’t prolong the agony. Let them go and move on to someone who will be a better ‘fit’
Make sure they feel valued. Almost half of employees surveyed by
Accenture reported that they were dissatisfied with their current job. The reason cited? Lack of recognition. It wasn’t money they wanted (although it is essential), but to feel they had purpose, and were integral to the success of the business.
What can you do to make your staff feel valued without breaking the bank? Here are 13 ideas which will give you huge return on investment:
- Consider some profit-sharing. If your business shows a net profit at the end of a quarter, consider allocating 5% of that to your employees. Give everyone the same amount. Even an extra $50 can make a huge difference for an employee, and is a great way to show you appreciate their hard work and loyalty
- Give the money to your staff at a meeting. This meeting should be for the sole purpose of sharing the news about your business success and handing out checks. Let them know it’s their teamwork that contributed to the success of the business
- Use Team Building activities. Teambonding.com is used by Intel, Google, Disney and Apple, among others. Find some great ideas on their website: https://www.teambonding.com/
- Negotiate discounts on products or services your employees use with local vendors. Examples of this are discounted movie tickets, car servicing, or meals.
- Together with your staff, choose a cause or non-profit to support. One company decided to provide support for a local school for the disabled. They spent a weekend building a playground, and organize occasional ‘festivals’ for the children who attend the school.
- You want their input – just not on everything. For example, don’t ask your employees what they think of your new logo, or what colors to paint the company vehicles. These are your decisions. Asking 20 employees will just get you 20 different answers. Instead, get their input on streamlining their own job – they do the job every day and will often have good, practical ideas on how to make it more efficient
- Wellness incentives are great. You can offer a gym membership to an employee who hasn’t missed a day of work in six months. (You will still come out ahead), or a gift certificate for a nice dinner out at a restaurant the employee may not ordinarily be able to afford
- In the same manner, a team who has had no on the job injuries for 6 months or a year deserves recognition. Treat them to dinner, or recognize them with a bonus
- If your business is large enough, consider hiring one full-time child care provider. Offer after school care to employees for their kids. They will focus on your business better when they aren’t worrying about their family. A few businesses with storefronts on the same block have pooled their resources to do this – and had great success
- Encourage innovative ideas from your staff. Collect ideas each month, and choose one as the winner. Congratulate the winner during a staff meeting and give them recognition for their idea. A special parking place for a month, half a day off with pay, or a gift certificate is affordable to you and will mean a great deal to them
- While we’re on the subject of encouraging ideas – it is great to have ‘brainstorming meetings with staff once a month. In these meetings, everyone is ‘equal’. The rules are simple: you tackle a challenge or issue and everyone throws out ideas. There are no’ bad’ ideas in a session, and no negativity is allowed. All contributions are written on a white board. A ‘moderator’ then begins to guide the group toward a mutual solution. Once everyone is comfortable with the brainstorming process, magic h appens. Ideas flow. Solutions come easily
- Regularly invite your employees to participate in a contest. Do you own a medical technology firm? Have a contest to see who can come up with the most innovative packaging idea for a new product. A bar? Hold a contest to see who invents the best new drink. Have a contest with another nearby business – and watch your employees bond during the competition.
- Consider hiring an independent operations professional. He or she can look at the systems and processes of your business and come up with objective ideas. Most are adept at team building and have mastered the art of listening. The investment can be modest; typically in just a few short days a qualified professional can find the areas which may interfere with your team being fully engaged in your business
These are just a few ideas to help you build a team who feels connected to the success of your business. By combining great hiring practices with team building activities, you are guaranteed to see an improvement in customer satisfaction, productivity and employee longevity. You will also very likely outshine your competition, and in the process build a crystal clear brand identity.