Someone said something to me once which I’ll never forget: "My employees don’t care about my business, so why should I care about them?"
(...and I’m sure that he isn't the only business owner who feels this way).
But the danger we face with this kind of thinking is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Unhappy staff will not care about the business and in turn, business owners who work with unhappy and demotivated staff, will stop caring about their employees' happiness (that's quite a mouthful!)
It's a circle of unhappiness that will inevitably rub off on clients.
The truth is that (in most cases) employees won't care about a business as much as you do. That’s why so many business owners and managers get irritated when their team don’t seem dedicated, but if you build a successful, nurturing and employee-driven culture, then you'll fuel loyalty, commitment and most importantly, care from your employees.
Why you should care…
At Coburg Banks, we’re big believers that you get more out of people when they’re innovated, inspired and nurtured and of course, we’re not the only ones. All you have to do is look at some of the most successful businesses in the world to recognise an employee engagement pattern. (You can check out the 100 best companies to work for here).
Happy staff will be: 1. More loyal (why would they ever want to leave)? 2. More inspired and proactive (excitement and enthusiasm are much more likely to breed great ideas). 3. More appealing to customers (we can all see an unhappy employee a mile off). 4. More creative (you can hardly expect people to offer great ideas when they’re terrified of your response).
Don’t get me wrong, for some reason (I’m no psychologist) negative working environments often do yield hardworking employees (we’ve come across many in our time) but you’re far more likely to lose them when a better offer comes up.
The point is, by creating a naturally lively, happy and friendly environment, with structure and clear goals, your team will be able to work together to achieve amazing things. Why put up with a negative environment, when you could work in a positive one?
This week, I've put together a list of the top nine ways to motivate your staff into truly caring about your business. Of course, different people will respond better to different incentives, so it's worth considering a balanced combination of some of the examples below.
"A healthy, active and collaborative staff community will present a cohesive, welcoming and magnetic proposition to customers." Investors in People
It may seem obvious that paying your employees more will increase their loyalty, yet many companies still offer lower salaries then they could (and should) or great starting salaries with no room for monetary progression once working for the business.
Considering how much time, money and resources you 'waste' when replacing staff, it could actually work out cheaper to just pay more in the first place and couple that with the positive impact a pay rise will have on self-esteem, commitment and subsequently productivity, then the benefits of higher salaries (when deserved) are abundantly clear.
If a hardworking, competent and dedicated staff member approaches you to ask for a pay rise, don't dismiss them. If you can't afford to offer them more money right away, be honest and consider other benefits mentioned below, to ensure that they still feel appreciated.
Lack of monetary appreciation is one of the biggest reasons that people move on when often even a small pay rise will suffice.
Money isn't everything to everyone, so you should also consider offering some great employee benefits to your staff, to make them feel valued at work and keep them happier in general life too.
Never forget that an employee's personal life will (often) affect their work ethic too, so if you can find a way to offer benefits that really help the individual, you could see a vast improvement at work too.
You could offer the following:
Allowing people to work more flexible hours is a really popular way of increasing staff happiness (and therefore their loyalty and care for the business). It would work particularly well for those with family commitments, showing that you respect their personal life too and it won't cost you a penny extra than if they'd worked 9-5
Some companies allow employees a chance to "buy" or earn extra holidays (by meeting targets). This is a great incentive for staff to work extra hard and it'll also be another reason why they stick around for longer.
Offering health benefits, such as a full or subsidised gym membership will benefit you in the long run (keeping staff fitter has been proven to improve their productivity and performance) but will also keep staff more loyal to your business.
Think outside the box
Some of the best employee benefits are slightly more out of the ordinary. We're not suggesting you fit a rainbow slide in your building (like Google) but you could offer some weird and wonderful rewards like a 'games room' fitted out with a console, football table and sofas to create a relaxing lunchtime environment.These benefits work really well because they'll get your staff talking about them outside of work, positioning you as an employer of choice.
Someone who works hard, is competent, ambitious and ready to learn?
Such employees are like gold dust and although you may find yourself hiring one, you won't be able to keep them on board for long if you haven't got clear opportunities for them to develop and grow.
Whether in-house or outsourced, ensure that your team have the opportunity to learn new skills (that benefit and expand upon their role) and truly become the best that they can be. Your brightest sparks will seize this opportunity and be grateful to you for offering it to them.
If a staff member approaches you with a training opportunity they'd like to take part in, make sure you handle the situation with care and truly weigh up the consequences of turning them down. Stifling a star employee's development could convince them to look elsewhere.
Similarly, you must ensure that your business genuinely has room for progression. If you want to keep the best and brightest staff then you should find ways for them to develop (ambitious employees are unlikely to be happy without some sort of obvious career path ahead).
Promoting from within the company will not only save you money, but will increase your staff loyalty too. They're bound to stick around and want what's best for the company if they can see themselves having a long-term career there.
A great way to make sure everyone is working towards the same goal (the success of the company) is to integrate everyone properly into the team.
If you can manage to create the right team atmosphere, where people genuinely care about and support each other, then people will feel much more compelled to work together to reach success. People will want their team to succeed.
Staff Social Events
You really don't have to spend a lot to put on a great team-building event, but you'll immediately see the benefits when you do. You could organise a quick"Friday afternoon drink" on the company, or a quarterly meal in a nice restaurant.
Set Team Targets
Establishing a joint target for your team (as well as individual aims) will encourage communication, commitment and hard work. No one will want to let the team down and (hopefully) everyone will support each other to complete their part of the task. When successful, staff will feel a sense of joint accomplishment and pride, nurturing that loyalty within the team.
Success and progress meetings help to keep everyone up to date with what's going on in the business and provide a great environment to congratulate employees and teams, who'll feel a sense of pride and support from their co-workers when commended on a job well done.
Expert tip: You might sometimes face trickier employees who could be bringing the atmosphere down in your business, most often those who don't feel as integrated and loyal to the team (yet!) It's really important to swiftly try and rectify the situation, especially if that person is having a negative effect on others. It may be worth having a one-to-one with that person about any problems they may be having, and trying harder to actively get them involved in team assignments. Perhaps you could put them in charge of a new project or ask them to organise a work do, with the help of their colleagues.
6. Trust is a two-way street.
No one likes to be micro-managed, it's as simple as that.
A great manager, who has nurtured a great team, will let go of the reins and put faith in their people. Not only will this free up time for other tasks, but it will also enable employees to feel valued, with a heightened sense of responsibility for the successes (and failures) of the business.
If anything, you should try to get your staff more involved in the business, giving them a chance to take part in more important decision-making processes. This will further fuel loyalty and they'll be more invested in the success or failure of the business in general.
7. Be Fair.
Don't set unrealistic and unfair goals for your employees as when they inevitably fail to meet that expectation, it will only decrease motivation and self-esteem..
I used to know a sales manager who purposely created false and unreachable targets for his staff, thinking this would make them work harder and pretty much guaranteeing that they'd meet the (secret) much lower target set by his boss. His plan failed miserably as most of the team ended up leaving due to a lack of appreciation and the other half spent most of their life trying to keep up, suffering on the edge of burnout.
If your staff are skipping lunch, staying late and working from home all the time, they're simply not going to be on top form (and they definitely won't be happy).
It's really important to listen to what your employees are feeding back to you. It may be worth having a progress meeting every week to ensure that no one is under too much strain and to consider lowering (or increasing) their target.
Expert tip: You should also never impose overtime on staff. Employees that genuinely care about the business (because you've created a caring culture) will volunteer to go the extra mile where necessary.
It's equally as important to react fairly to failures. Employees will make mistakes occasionally - that's an inevitability - but it's important that you're not too quick to criticise. If your staff can give you good reasons for making a decision, with a clear thought process behind it, then there's no point getting angry. Work together to improve upon things in the future.
Everyone needs a break from time to time (even you)!
8. Get Personal!
Just because you're the boss doesn't mean you're banned from a little chitchat with your employees. You'll be surprised how a simple conversation about someone's weekend can make them feel valued and noticed; it really does make a significant difference.
More evident within bigger businesses, managers and business owners often don't take the time to discuss non work-related subjects which makes the relationship strained (and almost robotic).
Next time you're in the office, why not have a quick chat?
9. Praise Your Employees.
Everyone likes to be recognised for doing a good job, so positive reinforcement is a great way to encourage employees, fuel motivation, happiness and pride in the workplace. It's really not just about bonuses, pay rises and benefits, most people genuinely like to be congratulated, in front of others.
This is where the success meetings I mentioned earlier could come into play although even something as simple as a Friday email showcasing some of the biggest accomplishments of that week will make a difference.
It is important to ensure that everyone in the team gets some recognition (if possible) so try to find ways of commending all of your staff (perceived favouritism will never go down well).
A Final Word.
One final thing (and something that often slips employers' minds) remember, different benefits will appeal to different people.
I mentioned earlier that staff with families might appreciate flexitime, instead of a pay rise and some staff may be interested in progression, whereas others might be happy in their current job role.
It's important for you to manage each member of staffon an individual basis so that you can truly get the best out of everyone so it's more than likely that you'll need a combination ofthe above strategies...(for more information on staff retention, check out our former blog 6 Essential Tips to Help Improve your Staff Retention.)