A Short Guide to Keeping Employees Happy and Committed
Having the right employees who can fulfill their job is a key part of any business. It’s obvious to any business owner or manager that having good employees is key.
But what often gets overlooked is that keeping them happy in their job and performing at a high level is not just a matter of giving them a paycheck every two weeks. There may have been a time when that seemed enough, but it’s clearly not the case now. So if we want to be able to keep our workers performing well, we have to know how to promote the right atmosphere for them.
Here we’re going to look at some of the ways to attract and keep employees who are competent and happy to be part of your business. This isn’t a complete list, but we’ve tried to touch on some of the main areas that make for a happier workplace.
Money Matters . . .
We all want it. We need it. And there hardly ever seems to be enough. Yes, money is important to keep your employees happy, even if it isn’t the only important factor.
As a business owner, you have to be aware of the prevailing wage in your area and be able to offer something that’s competitive. And that’s at an absolute minimum.
It’s important to look realistically at the cost of living. Is the prevailing wage in your industry enough to live on? You could pay the industry average in your area but still lose employees if they can’t live on what they make. In that case, they’re likely not just to leave your business, but to leave the trade entirely. So it’s not a matter of just paying what’s the norm, but making sure it meets basic needs.
The overall economic situation of your area also matters. When unemployment is low, employers are willing to pay more because it’s harder to attract employees. But when there’s a surplus of workers available it’s tempting to pay less. However, that can lead to workers who take a job more out of desperation than commitment.
Paying a wage that people can live on comfortably helps make them appreciate the company more. They aren’t as inclined to be looking for a better offer. And it will help them work without the stress of worrying about the next electric bill or mortgage payment.
Of course, you may be able to offer a slightly lower wage if you’re also offering great options in other areas. That can include better insurance plans, vacation options, or even just a better overall environment.
. . . But Money Isn’t Everything
At the same time though, money isn’t everything. If you follow sports, you might hear a free agent state “it’s not about the money”. They may want to go somewhere that meets a particular need – being close to their family, the chances of a championship soon, or some other benefit they see.
We may think we’d just at a couple extra million dollars no matter where we end up playing. But in reality, we can relate to what they’re saying. We’ve looked for houses in the right school districts, climates that had just the right weather, neighborhoods with low crime rates. We’ve probably also brushed off job possibilities because it wasn’t quite what we felt comfortable in. And as contractors, we’ve all accepted the risk of starting our own businesses rather than working for someone else, even when we were earning enough to be comfortable.
Money’s never been the only factor for us, and we can’t expect it to be for our employees, either. So let’s have a look at some of the other causes that can help make employees happy and committed.
The respect you show to your employees manifests itself in a lot of different ways. This respect helps them feel appreciated and that they are part of your business. They are not “just employees”; they’re part of what makes your business a success.
The simplest form of respect is in how you interact with those who work for your business. Basic human courtesy goes a long way. You may be the boss, but you can’t be the dictator. It’s essential to achieve the balance between running things efficiently and remembering that you are working with other human beings.
Another way of showing respect is allowing workers to do their jobs and trusting them to complete them correctly. A degree of autonomy shows that you trust them. At times you may need to provide more direct supervision. But most employees appreciate being allowed to do their jobs without having their boss on top of them all the time.
A third way that you can show respect and help employees feel they are part of the business is to be open and honest about the state of the business. Keep them aware of how things are going – doing really well? Struggling? What challenges are you facing? Do you have plans for expansion? When your workers know these things, they’ll understand better the decisions you’re making. They may also contribute insights that you’d missed!
Our last example here is that you should provide your employees what they need to do the job right. Don’t skimp on tools or supplies. Having quality equipment shows that you respect the work they do. Expecting people to work with inferior products is equivalent to telling them you don’t expect them to do a good job.
Encourage Professional Growth
Any job can get boring and grow stale when there’s no chance to learn or advance. That advancement can take two basic paths in our trade: learning new skills and moving up the ladder.
Providing opportunities to learn new techniques or methods benefits both your company and your workers. Participating in trade shows and workshops will help your employees to stay abreast of the latest ideas and techniques.
You can also send one or two employees to learn new skills then come back and teach the rest of the team. This helps them recognize how important and valued they are, rather than having everything come from you. It’s a win-win for both of you and them.
At the same time, sooner or later you’ll need people to move into leadership positions – as team leaders or forepersons or in other roles. Nurturing leadership talent and promoting from within helps keep company culture strong. Identify that leadership talent and provides opportunities for it to grow.
Help Family Growth
It’s also important to remember that your employees are (most likely) not hermits. They have families that depend on them and on whom they depend. Having a family-friendly work environment is an important factor in an employee’s happiness and commitment.
Now, we don’t mean that you should invite the little ones out to job sites to imprint their hand in wet cement. The job site is hardly ever a good place to have minors or for anyone who isn’t needed to do the job.
However, having general policies that reflect the reality of working parents and spouses is important. That can be reflected in a ton of ways.
One would be in making sure that the insurance that your business offers will cover the family’s needs. Try to offer health insurance that does more than the bare minimum. The physical and economic health of your employee and their family is going to have an effect on how well they do their job.
Another way to be “family-friendly” is allowing an adequate amount of paid leave to care for family members who are ill or otherwise need care. The option for unpaid leave for extended issues is also helpful when someone knows they can later return to the job. Generous paternity and maternity leave can be another opportunity to show that you understand that the priority is the family, not the job.
Holiday parties and other get-togethers are another great way to show you appreciate what your employees do for you. And both family parties and get-togethers only with spouses or significant others work well.
Even sponsoring a Little League team, dance school, or other activities demonstrates how much you appreciate them and their families. Plus, it’s a great way to advertise.
These are a few examples; there are many other ways you can show respect for the important people in your workers’ lives.
Growing a great business requires more than focusing on the bottom line. It’s important to also recognize the needs of your employees and create a work environment that will help fulfill their needs. What they’re paid is an important factor, but so are their professional development and their life outside work, especially their families. As a business owner, it’s important for you to remember all of those areas so that you’re able to keep the best employees happily working for you!