A good question and one that is being increasingly asked in businesses large and small. As a small business owner, you may not have the resources of the bigger companies but making your staff feel valued isn’t always about resources, in fact, it very rarely is. It is about good people management so what does good people management look like?
1. Talk to your staff – It may be a simple notion but it can be often overlooked in the general rough and tumble of a busy workplace. Research has shown that the key interaction at work is with the employee and their manager. If this is not right, your staff will not feel valued whatever you are paying them. Make sure that regular 1 to 1’s are held and feedback is given on what’s gone on well and what may not have. Tell people what is happening in the business, if a new client is won, celebrate the fact, if one is lost, seek views as to why and you may not like what you hear but it could be valuable information.
2. Listen – Talking to your staff is great, but ignoring any feedback they are telling you is not. Take an interest in what is happening to them and what they like or don’t like. If they tell you something that they believe is important and it is ignored it is highly likely that motivation and the feeling of being valued will be diminished.
3. Recognise achievement – If someone does something good then recognise it. It doesn’t have to be costly, a genuine and heartfelt thank you may be enough. I know a regional retailer who use a mystery shopper, told me that anyone who gets 100 at the mystery shop received a mug with 100 written on it. This mug is one of the most coveted items for staff and anyone who receives one is quite rightly very proud to get one. A mug is not expensive but the payback on the recognition of a job well done is worth a lot more. Find a way that works for your business, get it right and you will reap the benefit.
4. Wellbeing is important – having more than a passing thought to the health and wellbeing of your staff is a key area. This can be as simple as supporting people through a particular issue to providing things like fruit bowls (not expensive), subsiding gym membership, putting an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) in place to support staff.
5. Work Environment – Don’t underestimate the impact of workplace environment on well-being and whether staff feels valued or not. Provide a space where people can meet, have lunch, informal meetings etc. It gets people out of their offices, talking and interacting where otherwise they wouldn’t. Providing a pleasant workplace can be more difficult in say an Engineering workshop, but not impossible. In such places empower people to take pride in their workplace, keep tidy, put tools in the right place, take health and safety seriously, eg follow the principles in 5S (Sort, Set in order, Shine. Standardise, Sustain)
6. Make Expectations Clear – There is nothing more de-motivating than having ambiguous objectives and drifting not really knowing what is expected of you or what your contribution is to the business. People work best and feel valued if it is clear what they are supposed to do, make it clear what their contribution is to the business, have regular meetings to review objectives and progress, praise success and don’t chastise if mistakes are made, use them for learning.
7. Trust people to do their job – You have employed people to do a certain job, once you’ve set out your expectations, set objectives etc let people get on with the job you are paying them for. Try to resist the temptation to micromanage, if it’s your business this can be difficult I accept that but try. If you don’t people will quickly become disillusioned and leave. Review progress regularly as we’ve discussed but listen to suggestions, support, recognise and give headroom and you will get the right response.
8. Make the workplace fun – while accepting that this can be a minefield as what is fun for the goose is not always for the gander, so ask them and respond but it could be things like Pizza day, Dress Down days, Dress Up days, charity fundraising, nights out (avoid alcohol if possible), surprises (within the bounds of decency).
9. Consider non-financial benefits - We know money isn’t everything but consider non-financial benefits like Childcare Vouchers (these are changing), Ride to Work Scheme, Medical Cash Plans, Gym Membership, Travel Loans, duvet days etc They don’t have to be expensive but can really valued by staff.
10. Flexible Working – respond positively where you can to requests to work flexibility, can this job or part of it, be done from home, job share, 9 day fortnights, term time working, flexible working hours etc. Keep an open mind and be creative and respond to the needs of your staff as they juggle work life balance and you will get the benefits. I accept that it can be difficult sometimes but take any requests seriously.