Times are changing. To keep your team together through thick and thin, you have to think smart. Here’s some common-sense advice I wish I’d had years ago.
Treat people as you’d like them to treat you
Want good people? Be good people.
Business is business, but we’re not machines (yet). A boss who’s nice to be around counts for a lot. Being in charge isn’t easy; it takes skill to manage an effective team. All the management training in the world won’t cut it if you don’t have a pleasant manner and lead from the top when it comes to treating everyone with equal respect, whether that’s a VP or janitor.
Build your employer brand
I hear this phrase more and more. Your employer brand is the way your company is perceived by employees, current and potential. It defines what kind of candidates want to work for you, and how desirable you are as an employer. Sounds like a nice-to-have? Not exactly – when millennials were asked the most important values they think a business should follow if it is to have long-term success , employee satisfaction/loyalty/fair treatment came top of their list (26%), with ethics/trust/integrity/honesty a close second (25%), way ahead of good products (7%). You could be missing a trick if you overlook this one.
Get your staff excited about your employer brand by enlisting their help marketing it. Encourage them to use free channels like Twitter and Linkedin to show people your values and philosophy and give them a sneak peek at what it’s like to work for your company (although you might want to think about giving staff a few guidelines around social media use). Not only will they feel more engaged and invested, they’ll be making their voices heard. Employer review sites like Glassdoor let employees past and present tell it like it is, so make sure your employer brand lines up with your employees’ real experience.
Stay ahead of the competition
These days, what you offer your staff is as important as what you offer customers, if you want great employees. A 2016 survey from Gallup showed that 60% of millennials (that’s employees 35 and under to you and me) are open to new job opportunities. Check out the competition and see what other businesses are doing that could turn your employees’ heads – then go one better.
Be creative and boost morale
If you can’t compete on salary or premises, go for a caring culture as your unique selling point. A friend of mine managed to win some major brownie points from his staff with a cheap but thoughtful solution – each person got a $25 budget to personalize their desk area. Some chose a nice lamp, others bought plants or got some family photos framed up.
Make them feel appreciated
This one doesn’t cost a dime. Notice when good work is happening and be the first to praise it. A note of caution though – make sure you’ve got the story straight and you’re praising the people who did the best work, not those who shouted the loudest about it. If you’re not on the ground working alongside people you won’t get the full picture. Which leads me to…
Personally I think a good boss will turn his or her hand to anything that needs doing within the company. By spending some time doing each job, you’ll gain respect and strengthen relationships. You’ll understand day-to-day challenges, which can inspire you to find fixes or change processes, and you’ll get to know people’s ways of working, which is a smart thing to brush up on if you’re planning to expand your business or get people lined up for promotions. A clear path to career progression is a key factor when it comes to staff sticking around.
Everyone’s different. Get the best out of your employees by figuring out what makes them tick professionally, and what kind of environment suits them. Some of us thrive on routine, while others like to be able to work when inspiration strikes. Some love coming into the office and working alongside a team, while others are way happier tucked up in their home study collaborating via Skype.
Provided it makes sense for your business, be open to suggestions. Your staff might surprise you with some solutions that improve efficiency or save on overheads.
Reward them appropriately
Yeah, we’re talking about pay. Employees know their market value these days and you should know it too. Keep track of salary and pay grades in your sector, and be clear about how staff can earn a pay rise. If you link pay to performance through a formal appraisal system, your staff will know exactly what they need to do to earn more. They’re more likely to commit to you if they know hard work pays off – literally.
Show you care
A business relationship is still a relationship. And if you’ve invested time and effort recruiting, training and developing somebody, it’s because they matter. Show them they’re important by taking care of the practicalities like safe workstations, well-maintained facilities, and good healthcare cover. If money’s an issue (and when isn’t it!) consider employee-paid benefits that can complement any core benefits you may already offer.