Managing a business successfully requires that you possess the complete package, so to speak. You need to have strong interpersonal skills as well as strong technical skills, which is a combination of traits that few people possess. This is why business owners hire people to do the bulk of the work. Hiring the right people brings skills and strengths to the business that will allow it to grow and expand. The customer and sales side of things are looked at very closely. But some managers and business owners forget the third facet: employee satisfaction.
While it doesn’t immediately show up in customer reviews and overall sales, a dis-satisfied workforce drags everything down. Employees are more likely to quit. They won’t put as much effort into their jobs. They won’t go above and beyond in what they do. If your employees aren’t happy and engaged with their jobs, it will show up in the loss of productivity. It will provide you with dissatisfied customers. In turn that will produce high labour costs associated with above-average turnover. Keeping your employees happy and satisfied at work will pay dividends. Ultimately, this will lift the business over its competitors in the long run.
Some of the following strategies are proven methods of keeping your workers happy and productive.
Give them clear and defined objectives
Nobody likes feeling like they are just wandering around aimlessly. If your employees don’t know what is expected of them, then they will not know how to perform in a manner that boosts your bottom line. It can be very frustrating to work for a boss that doesn’t know what they want from you, yet still holds you accountable to some kind of a target. If you have ever had a boss yell at you for failing to meet a sales target yet offers no way to improve current figures, you know what I mean. If you come in with clear goals and expectations, your employees will work harder to achieve them.
Support them in the workplace
This manifests itself in a few different ways. One problem that some employees have is that they feel as though their workplace does not offer a safe and comfortable working environment. Whether they are being harassed, put on the receiving end of office politics, or punished for having personal issues in their lives, these work environments are not healthy and conducive to a happy workforce. For example, if an employee recently lost a loved one and their productivity suffers as a result, how you respond to that will go a very long way towards their overall level of happiness. Being callous or indifferent to their struggles only serves to make them feel unappreciated and undervalued.
With that said, supporting your employees doesn’t just mean making their work environment accepting. Your employees have lives outside of work, and when they feel as though work is intruding into their lives they are not going to feel engaged and ready to give their all. If you respect their personal life and accommodate them when things go awry, they will feel more appreciated. In turn, they will return the favour when you need to ask more of them.
Give them a stake in the business
If your employees see their job as nothing more than a paycheck, then they will never be motivated to do more than the bare minimum. Companies that give their workers some sense of ownership over their business’ performance report much higher level of job satisfaction and engagement. Starbucks has done this to great effect; all of its employees are referred to as ‘partners’ and all of their partners are given shares in the company for each year they are employed with them. As a result, the turnover rate at the company (at about 100%/year) is considerably below the industry norm for customer service jobs (about 300%/year).
If your business is small and doesn’t operate like that, you can also give them a clear goal with an incentive added to reach it. Some businesses give bonuses to employees for meeting certain sales targets. Others promise raises. If you give your workers something to fight for, they will work that much harder to achieve that goal.