Why is it important to keep your employees smiling? Because it’s a simple equation: happy staff = happy clients. You want your employees to come to work with a spring in their step, because they will give more in their jobs if they’re happy and they feel valued.
This may sound much too soft and fluffy for many bosses – particularly in today’s job market, where every position is likely to attract dozens of applicants. But there is business logic behind it. A small firm’s revenues and profits will be dented if good people leave because they feel unhappy or if staff members are underperforming because they feel unmotivated.
Also, if your staff is happy then you as the boss can spend more of your time doing what you want, which is running the business. You won’t be distracted by having to deal with disgruntled employees whose performance isn’t up to scratch, and you can spare your business the expense of having to continually recruit new people to
replace good people who have left because they’re unhappy.
How to put a smile on their faces
A mistake many entrepreneurs make is to think that what motivates them is also what gets their employees out of bed and into work every morning. You might be driven by hitting sales targets because they are key to the company’s growth and prosperity, but don’t necessarily think they mean so much to your staff, even though they may stand to earn a good bonus if they are achieved. You need to understand what makes your employees tick.
Job satisfaction means more than job security for today’s younger generations of workers. They know they’ve probably got to work for the next 50 years so they want to find jobs which they enjoy. If you’re in work for the long haul you don’t want it to feel like a real drag.
They also know that, for the time being, their chances of getting a foot on the property ladder soon are slim to non-existent, so they’re less driven by their pay packet than by other issues: how interesting is their job; how friendly are their colleagues; the atmosphere of the office, whether they feel part of a team and so on.
Here are a few tips on how to show your employees that you care:
- Make an example of good employees. If a staff member is doing a really good job then make sure you tell them that, and all their colleagues too. They can become role models for your firm.
- Ask them for their ideas. If they’re good then act on them and – importantly – give your staff members credit for them.
- Keep it personal. Some small companies make a point of giving their employees the day off on their birthdays or marking the anniversary date of when they joined with a handwritten note from the boss. Little personal touches can go a long way; one reason why many people work for a small firm is because they love feeling like they’re part of a family at work.
- Make it flexible. Acknowledging that your employees actually have a life outside work can really help to make them feel valued. Allowing them to work from home or around their other commitments through flexi-time can keep them motivated and help them produce their best work.
- Create landmarks. Annual events are great at making everyone feel part of a team. Employees love them and look forward to them, whether it’s the Christmas party, company picnic or trip to the seaside. Even new companies need traditions.
If you know your people and what is important to them then you will understand how to engage and motivate them. The easiest way to do that is to simply talk to them regularly. Encourage them to be honest about whether they’re enjoying working for you, and, if they’re not, then understand the reasons why. They might be easily fixable and so can prevent you from losing a valuable team member. If you find out more about who they are and about their lives outside of work, then you will go a long way towards treating them as people, not just employees.