These are facts: Your employees are the face of your brand. The quality of their work and interactions with your customers are crucial to the success of your business.
Do your employees consider the work they do “ just a job?” For employees to perform at the highest levels and pass that quality attitude to your customers, they have to be emotionally invested in their work. It doesn’t matter what kind of business you run. Whether it’s a dry cleaner or a wine bar, the same holds true. The difference between merely showing up, going through the motions and collecting a paycheck and outstanding employee morale and achievement is motivation and emotional investment on the part of the employee.
While you cannot guarantee that your employees will invest themselves in your passion or vocation in the same way that you do, there are are some practical things you CAN do to help your employees to become more invested in your company and their jobs.
Create a team environment rather than an “Us vs. Them” workplace attitude. Leave your door open to interact with your team and show them that you’re willing to roll your sleeves up and dive into work next to them when needed. Regular staff meetings are a great way to draw people out. Allow your employees to speak their minds and treat them with respect. Have a grievance process and address issues with solutions. Get to know your employees and what they’re about beyond the job interview process. Spend a little time each week touching base on a personal level. Who knows? You may discover your employees have hidden talents you never knew about. Your employees will appreciate that personal touch and feel closer to you and your purpose.
Tell Your Story
People become invested when they begin to care. Let your employees get to know you and why you’re in business. Share your dreams and goals for the company and why you need your employees to help you realize those goals. Share stories of ways your work has impacted or helped others, or how you’ve donated profits to charity to help others.
Give kudos loudly and often when deserved. Don’t be afraid to praise good work. Make sure your employees know that you sincerely appreciate their efforts beyond simply providing a paycheck. Some employers think that’s enough, but employees thrive on appreciation and will try even harder for you if they know you’re paying attention and will recognize their efforts. This can be in the form of an established employee recognition program, or a random bonus or gift at your discretion.
If you feel like there’s a disconnect between you and your employees, there probably is. One way to connect with your crew is through team building events, company parties, picnics, and other off-site employee-centered activities. Invite your team to come and do an activity with you and upper management staff in an informal and fun setting. Make your employees feel special and allow them to make a difference by including them in charity fund drives, can drives or blood drives. Create a volunteer force to walk for a cause or do a 5K or 10K walk/run event for charity. Working together towards a common goal is a wonderful way to build lasting connections. Your employees will return from these events with a renewed sense of investment in their work.
Backup your appreciation and care of your employees with something real. Gas and grocery cards, coffee gift cards, or monetary bonuses are wonderful surprises, and quite motivational to other staff members. Your employees will invest themselves in their work even more when they know that it affects their own bottom line. Cash incentives, shares in the company and profit sharing programs let your employees know that you are serious about building your relationship with them and rewarding them in a real way.