Hiring good staff can be a challenge. Ask any business owner and it will appear well down on their list of favorite things to do. Yet we all know our staff is our greatest asset and the difference in business performance between a strong staff culture and staff who are less than enthused will be thousands of dollars per year.
Of course, hiring is just the first step of the process. Once staff are employed, we, as business owners, need to make sure we can get the best from them. This comes back to keeping them motivated and - like a regular workout - the benefits of motivating only have a limited shelf life before they need to be applied again.
Ensuring your staff is motivated and committing their best can feel like a full time job. Here are our suggestions on the most effective way to ensure they are enjoying the job and functioning as effectively as possible.
- Have a work friendly environment. Companies such as Google and Facebook have spent a fortune creating employee friendly zones with gaming and relaxing areas and free lunch cafeterias. Although this is beyond the scope of most businesses, signalling to your staff that their well being is important is a good step to take.
- Recognize their efforts. Its easy to criticize when things go wrong and ignore the things that go right, but the old saying, that which is rewarded gets repeated, is true. Acknowledging good performance, both privately and publicly, will be greatly appreciated and will spur on your employees to repeat the process.
- Consider financial incentives. A pat on the back can be great, but employees like to sometimes see something more tangible for their efforts. Individual bonuses or team financial rewards can go a long way to helping with this process.
- Encourage competition. This can be effective within the workplace, but also between workplaces. Are there other stores you could be running a competition with? A monthly challenge for the best sales between stores can create a strong camaraderie amongst the staff.
- Have a clear vision. Your employees need to know the company has goals and objectives, otherwise every day can feel like Groundhog Day. People respond to those with vision - our greatest leaders have always been able to inspire others by the strength of their vision.
- Offer a career path. This can be challenging within a small business, but employees like to see the opportunity for progress and advancement. Offering the potential to advance can help motivate employees to grow and strive.
- Back your staff. The customer is always right and they need to be respected, but don’t hesitate to back a staff member up when a customer is being rude or unreasonable to them. They will respect you more if they know you have their back.
- Encourage ideas. Everyone wants to feel they are being listened to and your employees are no exception. Give them the opportunity to be involved in the business processes. Provide a forum where they can offer input and let them know their ideas are being listened to. They will appreciate it.
- Keep them informed. Do they know what’s going on with the business? There’s nothing worse than a promotion that’s running and the customer comes in to find the staff know nothing about it. Have regular meetings to keep them in the loop and be willing to share business information with them at a level you feel comfortable with.
- Build a team culture. All for one and one for all. You will always have your star performers, but its important that you treat your staff as a team and give them the chance to work together to achieve the business objectives. Most people want to be part of a team environment and will respond best under these circumstances.
Of course, everyone is an individual and how much you need to apply each of these strategies to individual employees will depend on their personalities and character. There is no one solution that will work for all the people all the time. An effective plan to implement each of these steps as required will lead to happier employees and a healthier business overall.