Savvy business owners understand how employee satisfaction has an impact on every aspect of their operations—from profitability to sales to client satisfaction. Fortunately, you don’t need a huge budget or HR department to ensure that your team members are engaged and feeling appreciated. All it takes is time, thoughtfulness and a little ingenuity.
Connected for Business spoke with two experts, who share some excellent, low-cost ways to help both you and your staff feel rewarded.
- Find out what motivates them: “People are the most important asset a business has,” says Jeff Welton, CHRP, Managing Director at Verity International Limited (a company that provides executive coaching and career-management services), and a former HR VP at TD Bank Group. “As a business owner, what motivates you is not necessarily what motivates your staff, and you have to understand and recognize that.” Some employees may like being acknowledged and rewarded publicly, while others may prefer to be recognized personally, away from the spotlight.
- Ask your employees for help: “We hold regular meetings where employees participate in problem solving, and we give the employee or employees the credit when those ideas are used,” explains Alain Paquette, President of Artcraft Label Inc., an award-winning company in the printing industry. Although you may feel that your staff have enough on their plates already, they’ll appreciate being asked for their perspective on a process or situation that needs improvement.
- Realize the power of a “thank you”: Both Welton and Paquette agree that a simple “thank you” can have a positive impact, especially if it’s delivered in a personal, meaningful way. Spoken thanks are nice to hear, yet physical notes allow an employee to refer to and reflect upon them at a later date. “When you write an employee a thank-you note, take the time to tell them why what they did was important to you,” suggests Welton.
- Acknowledge work anniversaries: “An employee’s years of service are celebrated with a special mention at our company,” says Paquette. Whether you print up a certificate, order a cake or give that employee the rest of the day off, rewarding long-term staff shows all employees that their loyalty is appreciated.
- Provide opportunities: The more engaged an employee is, the more motivated and dedicated they’ll be. “People stay [at a company] not just for the pay,” explains Welton. “They stay because they have opportunities to develop new skills, to grow and potentially advance their careers.” Invite employees to share their ideas, and offer them opportunities to work on new tasks to learn new skills.
- Listen and take action: Encouraging employees to share their thoughts only works if they feel they’re being heard. “It’s great to have those roundtable discussions, but if you have no action items and you don’t follow through on them, people will stop talking,” cautions Welton.
- Think outside the office: Let an employee swap parking spots with you for a week. Or pick up a few dollar-store umbrellas or toques to have on hand for employees to use during surprise downpours or unexpected cold snaps. “Doing small things doesn’t take much time or money, and it’s quite rewarding for both the employees and their company,” says Paquette.
- Own the program: “No matter what you decide to do, you have to take ownership of the employee-engagement program,” advises Welton. “HR can support it. HR can bring ideas to the table, but for employees to feel it’s genuine in spirit, it’s got to come from the top.”