Learn more about the processes, initiatives and habits of enterprise businesses, and how you can adapt those processes to help your small or medium business run better.
In the mad rush to keep orders filled, bills paid, and customers happy, it’s easy to forget about employees. As long as they show up and do the job, all is well, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always true. People working the frontline directly impact the bottom line. And if morale is low, the business will suffer.
For one thing, disheartened employees are more apt to leave, creating a financial drain. Hiring and training a new employee costs over $4,000 on average, according to a 2016 SHRM survey. Another problem is that low morale can lead to disengagement and subpar customer interactions, which no small business owner can afford.
As a business owner, it is on you to tune into employees and read their moods. Are they energized and giving their best? Or have inertia and discontent seeped into the workplace? Maybe stressful conditions—long hours, demanding clients, or a seasonal rush—have put a damper on employees’ attitudes?
One strategy is to redirect established customer satisfaction tactics toward employees. Just like ongoing loyalty-boosting programs, programs that lift employee spirits are easy to fold into the regular workday.
Here are three ideas for showing employees that they’re valued:
1. Use monetary and non-monetary rewards to build loyalty.
Do you reward loyal customers with discounts, free items, or special privileges? Then do the same for a loyal team! The more experienced employees are, the more valuable they become, so reward them with financial perks such as incremental raises, end-of-year bonuses, or extra vacation days.
Similarly, paying higher-than-market wages can boost productivity and enhance morale, notes a Case Western Reserve University professor: “When companies pay more than the prevailing wage, their employees tend to work harder and are less likely to quit.”
If financial incentives are too difficult, nonmonetary incentives can work just as well. Publicly recognizing a job well done, bringing in lunch for the team, and other simple gestures make people feel their work is appreciated.
2. Listen to staff concerns and resolve conflicts fairly.
When a customer comes with a problem, savvy business owners know to stop, listen, and resolve the issue. The customer’s needs and concerns are top priority, no matter how small or even irrational the requests might be.
What if you extended that same focus and priority to employees when they come with concerns? When people know they can share problems and be heard and understood, a culture of trust develops.
One of the most common complaints employees have is friction with peers. Rather than ignoring the whole thing (a natural response), owners should treat conflict as an opportunity to learn and improve the workplace environment.
By actively listening, owners can use the information to bring people together, find common ground, encourage compromise, and set boundaries to prevent future problems. In the long run, conflict resolution is far easier than doing nothing and letting simmering tensions eat away at morale.
3. Find reasons to celebrate.
Holidays are great opportunities to reach out to customers and attract them to a business. Special menus, offers, seasonal decorations—these efforts spark positive feelings and foster loyalty.
In the same way, small business owners can create a festive atmosphere for their staffs, and build bonds and loyalty. Learn about ways to brighten the days ahead with Clover’s Holiday Planning series, and sign up for monthly alerts. Employees will enjoy National Pretzel Day as much as customers!
Plus, keep track of birthdays, major events in employees’ lives, and other ways to celebrate the people who share the amazing, challenging, never-ending experience of running a small business.[image: Coffee Roasting at Ipsento Coffee Shop in Bucktown by David Hilowitz on flickr]