4 ways you could be taking better care of your employees

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By Henry Brown

As a small business owner, you likely feel like you’re fighting for your life at the moment. Your every waking thought is geared towards how you’re going to engage your customers. You’re pulling your hair out trying to ensure that your brand represents an irresistible value proposition for consumers, and luring them in with special incentives to encourage them to trust you once more. You’re no doubt grappling with the logistics of luring back customers who’ve lapsed under lockdown, while also trying to attract the new custom that will slowly but surely lead to sustainable business growth. You’re agonizing over how much your customer service policy actually serves your customers, and keeping a close eye in your competitors to see if they’re doing anything that you’re not to reconnect with their own customers.

And while this is all good practice in these extraordinary circumstances, you shouldn’t let your zeal to re-engage your customers make you neglect your employees. After all, they’re the ones who bring your business’ mission statement to life. It’s their hard work and endeavor that provides the value-added for your customers that keeps them coming back. And your employees have had a rough ride in the past 6 months just as your customers have. They’ve had to endure uncertainty, financial hardship and (in many cases) the sickness or even loss of people close to them.

As such, it’s befitting to ask yourself if you’re really doing all that you can to protect them, ensure their wellbeing and help them to fulfill their career goals within your organization. Because if you don’t, they’ll happily run into the arms of your competitors!

Could you do more to keep them safe and healthy?

If your business has a physical premises, you’ve likely had to make all kinds of physical and operational changes to ensure that your employees’ working environment is safe and free from COVID-19. But if that’s your only priority, it’s safe to say that you could be doing more to keep them safe and healthy at work.

Do they have the ability to ergonomically adjust their workspace to reduce eyestrain or guard against a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) while working? Are they encouraged to get out of their seats for at least a few minutes every hour to mitigate the potential health risks of spending the whole day sitting? Do they have vision insurance and a dental plan to ensure that their health is financially protected? Do you encourage them to cycle to work or arrange exclusive discounts at a local gym that they can visit on their lunch break?

These are all ways in which you can go above and beyond for the team who give their all for you!

Could you do more to keep them motivated and engaged?

Employee engagement has been a serious problem for employers for some time. Long before anyone had heard of COVID-19. In fact, a 2017 Gallup Poll revealed that up to 85% of the global workforce is either not engaged at work, or actively disengaged. And when employees are disengaged in their work, they can’t possibly be expected to deliver the kind of outstanding customer service that keeps customers coming back time after time.

So, how can you keep employees engaged and motivated? Performance related bonuses work for some, but it’s important to remember that not all employees are motivated solely by money. Many would prefer the opportunity to earn flextime or get more paid leave to spend with their families than they value monetary bonuses.

Moreover, employees value recognition and knowing that their efforts are acknowledged, appreciated and celebrated. The good news is that there are a number of employee recognition platforms that allow managers and leaders to share and celebrate the achievements, hard work and endeavor of individuals and teams within their organization. These look and behave much like social media platforms (indeed, Facebook even has its own platform called Workplace). But rather than distracting employees from their work, it can help them to feel more engaged and more like a valued part of your organization rather than an anonymous cog in a money making machine.

Could you do more to empower them and give them professional pride?

In the coming months, you know that you’ll be asking a lot of your employees as you navigate the rough terrain of Q4 together. You’ll need them to step outside their professional comfort zones and go the extra mile for you. And it’s only fair that you should do the same for them. Employees need to feel empowered and prepared. They need to feel as though you have their backs. That means you need to invest in their training and development.

Training cannot be a one and done exercise that takes place during onboarding. It needs to be continuous and tie into their professional development to help them achieve their career goals. It need to help them to develop in areas of strength while also addressing the aspects of their job and their performance that they’re less comfortable with. Your training can not only help your employees to deliver an outstanding service to your customers, it can also help them to feel confident, empowered and fulfilled in their work.

Once again, if employees aren’t able to achieve their career goals under your roof, they’ll happily leave you for an employer who will empower them.

Do they know that your door is always open to them if they need to talk?

Finally, these are difficult times for everyone. Your employees need to know that you see them as a human being and not just a set of operational functions. They need to know that your office door is open (even if they’re working remotely) to them if they need to talk about their worries, their concerns and their frustrations. If you don’t makle time for them, they are far less likely to deliver the operational excellence that could take your business to the next level.

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Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop, he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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