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5 ways to invest in your staff

Entrepreneurship and business ownership can be daunting tasks, and without a skilled and dedicated team, an entrepreneur is likely to find themselves isolated from the support and resources they need to develop and grow their idea.

The success of any venture hinges on the quality of the team that is involved in the process. And here's the good news: happy employees are more productive, motivated and loyal—it’s a win-win for everybody.

Simply put, employees thrive when leaders engage them by actively finding ways to help develop their skills, providing opportunities for growth and advancement, and recognising their achievements.

5 ways to invest in your staff

So, in today's fast-paced business environment, creating an enjoyable and engaging workplace culture is not just a nice-to-have, it's a must-have for achieving long-term success.

The benefits of having happy employees extend beyond just their increased productivity. Happy employees tend to produce higher-quality work, which can translate into better products and services for the customers—boosting a business's reputation and bottom line.

So, the question you should be asking is, “How can we operate in a hybrid environment in a way that creates meaningful employee experiences, delivers value to stakeholders and improves the lives of people and society?”

Whatever you choose, ensure you come up with flexible, easy-to-adopt and equitable solutions for all stakeholders.

The game has changed! Staff need attention

Currently, Millennials make up the largest generation in the workforce, having grown up during a time when technology drastically altered our way of life, work and social interactions. The pandemic blurred the lines between work and home life, and employees are taking notice of how their work environment impacts their personal life and their mental health.

Millennials desire to work for a business that provides support and prioritises collaboration and expects their leaders to work with them to achieve success. As a result, the conventional top-down leadership approach, in which decisions are made at the highest levels and assigned to employees, needs to be re-evaluated.

This “boomer” approach emphasises the importance of authority and control, with employees expected to follow orders. Ever seen Mad Men? Then you’ll understand.

Today, employees are experiencing mounting anxiety and stress in both their personal and professional lives, highlighting the need for leaders to exhibit more empathy and offer a consultative, supportive leadership style.

To unlock your employees' full potential, business owners need to get to know them on a personal level, beyond just their job title. By recognising their unique strengths and interests, you'll be able to cultivate a more motivated and engaged workforce.

So how can business owners nurture and develop their staff to keep them healthy and engaged?

Perhaps having a physical office space to leave behind could help staff set a better work-life balance for themselves, regardless of their individual mindsets towards work. A clear ‘place of business,’ can give team members a way to draw a line and truly clock out of work. 

The 5 most ways to invest in your staff

A well-trained and motivated team can increase productivity, improve customer satisfaction and boost profits. Yet surprisingly, this critical factor for success is often considered a time-heavy business expense, not a long-term investment.

When employees feel valued and supported, they are more likely to be loyal to the business and contribute to its long-term growth, highlighting that investing in staff is not only beneficial for staff but also for the overall success of the business.

Here’s how.

  1. Understand staff member motivations

Keeping staff members happy is no longer simply a matter of having a nice boss. Today, employees want to be engaged and excited in their roles, and leaders must understand what motivates them to take positive action. 

While fair pay remains a motivator for most, a recent study shows that it is no longer enough to keep staff satisfied in their roles. Factors such as peer motivation (20%) and feeling encouraged and recognised (13%) have become more important.

To support this new ideology, business owners need to consider how they can make their workplace a more pleasant environment by acknowledging staff motivations, as most full-time workers spend a significant portion of their lives there.

Take the time to observe your staff members to define patterns in their behaviour or take note of what “lights them up”. Continue to remain flexible with your approaches, and don’t forget to communicate with them regularly.

  1. Challenge your staff

A significant issue lies in maintaining genuine engagement and motivation among staff, and business owners need to tackle this by offering their teams growth opportunities and challenging tasks. Simply going through the motions of daily job responsibilities won't cut it.

To truly thrive, employees need a challenge that allows them to learn and grow every day. They crave a job that puts their expertise to good use, keeps them fully engaged, and offers clear goals to strive for— because who wants to settle for a boring routine?

As a leader, it's crucial to challenge your team in an enjoyable setting, since it is through these challenges that staff learn and stay committed. Like Richard Branson famously says: Customers come second, employees first. It's a winning strategy that reaps the rewards for both the business and its customers.

  1. Develop and grow staff members

Nowadays, just handing over a procedure manual isn't enough for employees to fully grasp their job responsibilities. To improve employee skills development, business owners have various methods at their disposal.

Coaching is a key employee development method that involves senior staff members working one-on-one with less experienced employees to improve their skills. Similarly, mentoring entails senior leaders/management taking junior staff under their wing to enhance essential skills that the mentored employee may lack.

Employee-led training or self-study is an effective way to encourage creativity and curiosity, as employees can select topics based on their interests and passions. Employees can also volunteer to switch roles with colleagues on a shift/team to put their newly acquired skills into practice.

  1. Communicate the good (and the bad) to staff members

Effective leaders understand the importance of maintaining open lines of communication with their staff. Rather than hiding in their office, they actively engage with their team to keep them informed and encourage participation in decision-making processes. When employees are involved in decision-making processes, they are more likely to support changes in direction or new service/product offerings.

Effective communication fosters transparency, builds trust, aligns efforts towards shared goals and inspires positive change. In contrast, a lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings and strained relationships, which can hinder progress and ultimately harm the business. 

If you don’t trust your staff with business decisions, why would they trust you in return?

Leaders who openly discuss the business's goals, challenges and opportunities create an environment where employees feel empowered to share their ideas and collaborate. Additionally, acknowledging mistakes encourages experimentation and creates a safe space for active problem-solving.

  1. Acknowledge and reward 

When a leader acknowledges and rewards their staff for doing a good job, the staff are more likely to accept criticism about areas that need improvement. It’s a fine balance, but a necessary one.

The key to improving employee engagement is to understand how to reward and recognise employees, especially high-performers. The focus should be on meaningful employee appreciation, such as a day off, a written acknowledgement, gifts, or a feature in a business-wide newsletter.

Recognising employee efforts is not only about the act of recognition itself but also about the principle. If people feel that their contributions are appreciated, they will be more likely to continue working hard, leading to increased job satisfaction and loyalty. 

Gone are the days of employees remaining loyal to their employers for 20 years in hopes of reaping the financial benefits. Today, it’s an employee’s-market, and business owners and entrepreneurs are beginning to recognise this. What does this mean for you as a leader? You need to consider what makes your team tick, and how you can nurture and meet their needs to encourage increased productivity, higher quality work and better financial outcomes. It all comes down to investing in your staff—a must-have for building a successful and sustainable business.


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