Don’t forget about your people.
Employees are, without a doubt, the biggest factor in the success of a business. Even with a great product or service, the lack of a productive and motivated staff will cause both short- and long-term problems and threaten the viability of operations. Seem obvious? Sure, but the workforce as a whole is still too often overlooked when it comes to objective and strategic planning.
So looking towards the new year (or any time-frame for that matter), where do you need to improve to ensure your workforce isn’t just present, but ready and willing to move your organization forward?
An organization’s culture can be traced back to its founding. It’s the overall flow that defines how and who performs vital tasks, and the invisible glue that holds everything together both inside and outside operational walls. It’s ingrained in the perception of customers, employees, and the public, so how does yours stack up?
Getting some employees to “care” about their daily tasks can be a struggle. Motivating employees to not just go through the motions, but to go above and beyond in their responsibilities helps the organization identify new opportunities and achieve their high-level strategic objectives and is the dream of any manager or executive.
A company wants the best employees under their roof, and certainly doesn’t want them leaving anytime soon, but that can be tough when things are stagnant. Employee engagement and development is often only present when the organization is growing and prospects look bright for the employee and their employer.
Improving employee morale and workforce cohesion isn’t easy, and with organizations varying in size, age, and industry, there’s no single right answer. But it’s certainly possible, and you can begin to build a stronger workforce in a number of ways.
Formalize new objectives and refresh the old, share them with your employees, and involve them in the process of brainstorming and implementing new ideas to achieve them. Transparency and new opportunities get people excited and engaged in what the company is doing, and push them to play a larger role.
Many workforce issues arise from overworking or a lack of resources. If the bottom-line isn’t too stretched, bringing in some fresh faces and new help can alleviate stress, speed up operations, and bring fresh perspective to a department or team that’s struggling or not fulfilling its potential.
Toxic and problematic employees help no one and only drag your operation down. It’s never easy to let people go, but behaviors that hinder the performance of the workforce can’t be ignored, and once action is taken, it should be communicated as to why to keep everyone on the same page.
Things like raises, extra vacation time, or parties might have a short-term reach, but can still work to give morale the boost it needs, even if only temporary. Still, use caution with these extrinsic rewards as once the hype has faded, it can be difficult to repeat the benefits.
Every employee wants to feel as though they’re being heard and that their opinions matter. Communicating company goals and objectives, holding specific brainstorming sessions, opening up management to feedback, and better management of ideas can work wonders to prove to employees that they play an integral role in operations.
A stronger focus on people may seem like an exercise in HR 101 and an uninteresting and avoidable topic. People are resilient and will fix their own problems! But it holds a multitude of benefits for the qualitative culture you’re trying to build and the quantifiable bottom-line you’re looking to improve.
The modern (younger) employee has become a nomad of sorts. They’re constantly looking for new experiences, and that can spell trouble for their employers. Happier employees, regardless of age, are less likely to cause problems or leave for greener grasses, which means less time on recruiting, less meetings to resolve conflicts, and a more familiar workforce.
Employees that care about their work perform at a higher degree, place a larger focus on safety, and collaborate to solve problems. They seek opportunities for new responsibilities in an effort to develop their skills and reach inside the company, and are much more likely to go that extra mile to ensure a customer gets their questions answered, equipment is fixed, or a project is completed on time.
Employees are the strongest source of new ideas for an organization. They have unmatched experience with customers, production, and service, and possess insights that can’t be read or taught by consultants. But if they aren’t comfortable or care enough to share those potentially game-changing ideas, they’ll stay stuck in their heads. Create an environment where everyone can and feels empowered to make a difference.
Time is something we never have enough of, so it can seem like a waste when it is spent addressing things that don’t appear to have a direct bottom-line impact on your business. While this is true for many things in modern business, the relationships and culture inside your organization are nothing to overlook, even if they don’t provide an immediate return on dollars and time spent.
Everyone wants happy employees, but the workforce as a whole doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Employees will always be the driving factor for performance and innovation inside organization, so regardless of your industry, size of your operation, or how long you’ve been in business, make an effort to change things up and build a more innovative workforce.