There are a lot of differing opinions over what the most important part of your business is. Some people might say that it’s your finances, some might say that it’s planning and organization. All of these things are completely valid and are essential for a well run, successful business. But if you want to figure out what’s really important, you’ve got to figure out what’s right at the core of your business. Ask yourself, what is the heart of your company?
The answer to that is simple: your employees. Your employees are the ones who take all of your passion and ideas and turn them into a reality. They are the ones on the ground working every day to turn your company into something truly great. Or at least, that’s the way it should be. If you’re not getting the most out of your employees, then your business is inevitably going to suffer for it. The right staff can elevate your business, but the wrong staff is guaranteed to drag it down. So the question then is how do you make sure that your employees are the genuine asset to your business that you know they can be? Fortunately, the answers to that questions are not only simple but achievable as well. Here are a few ways that you can make sure that you’re getting the most out of your employees.
Think about the work atmosphere
Creating the right atmosphere at work can be a tricky thing. No one wants to work in a tense, silent, Victorian-style office where everyone is in neat little rows and no one can talk to each other. But at the same time, you want to make sure that your employees are aware that it is a workplace and not a social gathering. There’s been a big move over to open-plan offices over the last few years, and that’s great. Open-plan offices allow employees to communicate and share ideas with one another. But unless it’s handled properly an open plan office can easily descend into a mess of chatting and distractions.
It’s important that you figure out how you want to arrange your office based on the needs of your business and your staff. Communication will certainly be important but make sure that you’re not sacrificing your employees’ ability to focus. Often, it’s a good idea to try and create a balance between a collaborative atmosphere and one where independent working is possible. Creating dedicated quiet spaces is a wonderful way to accommodate employees with different kinds of working styles without having to expend huge amounts of money and resources. The key is to make sure that your atmosphere works for your employees and not the other way around.
Look after them
Your employees are by far your greatest asset, but they are also people. You need to remember that. Your employees aren’t machines, they have limits, needs and wants and as their boss, it’s your duty to support them as well as expect high-quality work from them. Adopt an open-door policy so that your employees know that you’re always available if they have an issue that they want to discuss. It’s also valuable to try and make sure that you show your appreciation to your employees as well. Offering employee perks is a fantastic way to show your employees that they are valuable to you.
You should also make sure that you’re able to be flexible with them. This should always be within reason of course but remember that each employee’s needs will be different. If someone needs to adjust their hours, then don’t be too rigid. As long as they’re putting in the full work week, then it shouldn’t matter too much if they add or subtract an hour or two here and there. If you’re overly tyrannical then your employees will begin to resent you. That doesn’t mean that you should be a pushover. Make sure that your behavior and decisions are always firm but fair. It’s fortunate then that the modern world has created an environment where that kind of flexibility is easier now than it has ever been. The rise of digital technology and remote working tools mean that your employees can work where and when they are available without it having the kind of marked negative impact on your business that you might previously have expected.
From conferencing tools like Skype and Slack to remote desktops that let them work from just about anywhere, it’s never been easier for you and your employees to come to mutually beneficial arrangements. Giving your employees the chance to balance their life in a more healthy way is going to greatly increase their motivation as well as making their overall attitude towards your business far more positive.
Focus on development
Your business should always be adapting and evolving. The modern business world never stops moving and neither should your business. But that means that your employees will often have new things thrown at them fairly frequently. In order to help them handle these new developments, it’s important that you’re providing frequent, useful training for them. Make sure the training is actually valuable to your employees and not just ticking something off a checklist. Make sure that any training that they receive is guaranteed to help them excel in their current roles or to prepare them for future ones.
Few things can make an employee feel more frustrated than the idea that they’re stagnating in one spot year after year. You should make sure that there are clear development and progression opportunities for all of your employees at every level. Not only will that incentivize your employees to do better but will also weed out those who aren’t interested in pushing themselves. Employees like that are only ever going to put in the minimum amount of work required and are never going to be a truly valuable asset to your company. Not only that but employees are far more likely to give their best effort to an employer who is invested in their development and wants to see them succeed as much as possible. You’re not going to benefit anyone by trying to keep your employees in one place.
Lead by example
You should expect a lot from your employees. But it also works the other way around. If your employees are working to a particular standard and then they turn around and see that you’re not doing the same, then that’s going to create an atmosphere of mistrust and resentment. Make sure that you’re leading by example and that you’re putting in just as much time, commitment and effort as you expect from your employees. Not only will this improve your business as a whole but will create an environment of camaraderie and loyalty when they see that you’re all working together, rather than them working and you just barking orders. It’s also important that, by putting in just as much work as your employees, you retain a sense of the kinds of stress and pressure that’s being placed on them.
Never lose sight of the level of work your employees are putting in. It’s an all too common mistake to treat your employees as those who are there to take the workload off your shoulders. And sure, that’s true to the extent that running a business on your own is near impossible once it reaches a certain size. However, understanding that your employees are providing you with the chance to expand your business through hard work that each and every one of you is putting in means that you’re far more likely to end up in a position where everyone is pulling their weight and no one feels that there is far too much pressure on their shoulders.
There really is no asset more effective than your workforce. A solid team will help your business handle any problem and in the end, is sure to help it become as successful as possible. However, that’s never going to happen if you don’t put in the work to foster that kind of relationship with your employees in the first place. If you take for granted that your workforce is going to be able to work together and keep your business pushing forward, you’re going to end up being sorely disappointed.
The reality is that far too many business owners treat their employees as though they’re just another resource, even if it is a particularly valuable one. However, if you really want your business to succeed to need to recognize that your employees are human beings with all of the benefits and drawbacks that that brings with it. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to push your employees to do the best they can, but you also need to look at the other side of that attitude to make sure that, while you’re getting the most out of your employees, they’re also getting the most out of their time in your business.