Your employees are actually just volunteers!
One of my former clients had brought me in to work with their team because they recognized that the levels of motivation and engagement their employees were not as high as they had hoped they would be. Working with them got me thinking and I came to the conclusion that all business owners that employ people should consider that they are actually volunteers in their business.
Now that might sound like a controversial statement but let me explain why I say that.
Employees are of course paid to work for your firm but in most instances there are likely to be other businesses in the area that offer the same products or services that you do. Or at the very least other businesses where your employees could use their knowledge and skills.
This means then that your people are effectively ‘volunteering’ because they are choosing to work for you in your business rather than elsewhere, so looking after them is vital to retaining them as an employee. High employee retention is an indicator of high employee wellbeing and is also a key factor in ensuring business resilience.
So what can you do to encourage them to keep working for you?
Let me share from both my studies and experience of working with other successful business owners three points that can often be improved.
Be a leader more than a manager.
Most businesses have a set of management processes which monitor absence, sickness and holidays etc, and many have systems for managing performance and disciplinary issues. All of these are important for you as the business owner to keep a sense of control over your people however they do little for employee wellbeing and engagement.
To do this you need to step into being a leader, you need to take steps to ensure that your employees want to work for you. This starts with building trust and developing a relationship with your people. You need to create a connection on a personal (or emotional level) as well as professionally. I have lots of insights that I could share with you in this area, but for now I will focus on the fundamentals of team building.
Communicate regularly with your team.
No matter how good your communication is there is always room for improvement but for now let’s just cover some of the fundamental types of communication to engage your employees and build a high performing team.
Simon Sinek talks about the need to have a ‘why’ an overriding purpose for your business. If you don’t already have this then work with a coach that can help you identify what this is. Onceyou are clear then the first step in team building is to share your ‘why’ and your business goals with your employees. If your people don’t understand what you are trying to achieve then they are not able to work with you on them. Having a common goal to work towards and a shared set of values is a great starting point for any working relationship.
But as I already indicated as a leader you need to communicate at a personal level with your employees too. This enables you to strengthen the trust your employee has in you which means that they are more likely to come to you for support. Also, you need to encourage your employees to talk to each other. This means that the trust builds between your employees and begins to strengthen the spirit of a ‘team’ where they all look out for each other. When you have this then you are likely to increase your employee wellbeing and greater team cohesion which directly influences efficiency and profitability.
Reward and recognition.
When business owners consider how to motivate or incentivise their employees, they often consider rewards, and many make these rewards monetary. But,from my research money is only a short-term motivator and indeed can be viewed in a similar way to a chemical dependency in that the more you have the more you want. Also of concern with monetary rewards is that but many bonus payments are paid monthly or at the same time every year and so the danger is that these become expected. This means that the process can become detrimental to motivation if for any reason they stop, even for a short time.
I believe that a more powerful motivator is that of recognition.
Well, people will remember for longer the way that you make them feel. Recognition can be something as simple as saying thank you. Or praising someonefor a job well done.
So ask yourself…
What are you doing to keep your ‘volunteers’ engaged and committed to achieving the things that you want them to?
All of the points covered in this blog are featured in more detail in my book “Building Teams the SMARTer Way” which is available to buy here
We would be happy to answer your specific questions about your employees, all of our contact details are here.