A key concern for every business owner is making sure that they’re getting the most out of their staff. With employee engagement levels at consistent lows it can be hard to figure out a balance between keeping the employees that are already giving their all and figuring out how to motivate and encourage the ones that are not. The majority of people want to go to work and do a good job but for numerous reasons end up in the 70% of employees who are disengaged in the workplace. A common reaction to this, by a lot of managers, is to try and instill fear in their employees for work not performed to levels they expect or a command and control style of management. But this type of management usually backfires.
So then, how do you combat lulls in productivity and encourage a happier, healthier and harder-working culture? First of all, you have to be willing to look at your own practices and keep an open mind about changing your own behaviors as a leader. There aren’t many people that like to be told they’re in the wrong, but the most successful business people acknowledge that they are not perfect and are willing to change themselves. Here are some areas within the confines of your business that you can look at to improve employee productivity and morale.
One of the most common errors in judgment a business owner can make is to only reward management or upper levels. In their eyes, it’s the people running the show that are meeting their goals. Don’t overlook the contributions of all levels within your organization. Your employees are your most valuable asset, and if you don’t treat them accordingly, someone else will. You may make the mistake of thinking your business is all about your customers, but you’d be wrong. You should strive to make your business about your staff. Without them, you’d have nothing.
Instead of waiting for the annual performance review, look for ways to reward every employee, throughout the year when goals and accomplishments are met. Whether it be simple thank you notes for a job well done to team dinners and outings – showing employees that they are appreciated and valued is key. That doesn’t necessitate drastic changes in your approach. It just means sharing praise and being specific about what each employee is doing right. If you aren’t doing this already, you should look into it. You should never be too busy to hand out a simple “job well done” when it’s deserved.
Your employees should also feel that their opinions are valued. Encourage collaboration and innovation by providing employees with the problem and allow them to come up with the solution. Make sure that you are rewarding the right behaviors when teams work on projects together too. You don’t want to create silos or too much competition but rather an environment where everyone feels heard and feels that they are equally important to coming up with solutions. You also want to create an open line of communication between yourself and your staff. You need to explain the ‘why’ behind the asks you make of them. Celebrate successes and learn from failures.
You’d be surprised by how loyal a staff member can be when they feel like they’re a vital cog in the machine. Often, you’ll find that they will run through a brick wall for you. You just need to implement the right system. Another way is to strive for continuous improvement and lean training– the latest trends to engulf business. Provide employees with opportunities to grow and advance in their careers and improve themselves.
Look after your staff and they’ll look after you. Everyone has problems at home, and it’s not always possible to separate them from the working day. If you aren’t there for your staff when they need you most, why should you expect them to give you anything other than the bare minimum? It’s a two-way street. Support in times of need will live long in their memory, and when the time comes to return the favor, you’ll know who you can count on. This support can take many forms, but don’t be closed off to your employees’ personal lives.
Follow these few steps and you should be well on your way to cultivating a positive working environment.
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