FORBESBOOKS 5: KEEPING YOUR EMPLOYEES HAPPY AND PRODUCTIVE

As the Founder & CEO of a company that has grown from a spare bedroom into a successful business with over 100 Team Members and which, along the way, has been awarded one of South Carolina’s Best Places to Work for four years, my philosophy of business is surprisingly simple:

Happy employees!

Happy employees, or Team Members as we like to call them, take care of their customers and happy customers refer new clients, pay their bills and contribute to the profitable growth of the company.

You don’t have to be a business guru to recognize when a business is firing on all cylinders, that everyone is putting their skills to maximum use, working together and actually having a good time.

Here are five tips on how to create and nurture a stellar team:

  • Staff your team with A-players.

An A-player is someone who brings all of the necessary qualifications to the table plus something extra as a human being. Of course, that isn’t always readily apparent during a 45-minute interview. This speaks to the importance of having an intuitive hiring manager, which may be a small business’s CEO.

You should always be looking for A-players, whether a position is open or not. You need a virtual bench. A Gallup report on the millennial generation reveals that 21 percent of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year. Each day, 10,000 baby boomers retire. People will leave and you need to have a few A-candidates in mind whom you can immediately reach out to. Most companies approach hiring and recruiting reactively. The goal is to be proactive.

  • Have fun

Marketing whiz and author Mike Veeck says it plainly in his book – Fun Is Good. Studies prove it. Good for business. Good for customers. Good for employees. Fun at work means having energy and enthusiasm while tending to the tasks at hand.

Matt Weinstein notes the potential of fun in his book, The Levity Effect. He tells the story of an employee who ran into his manager’s office and asked if his colleagues could do something fun, like head outside and fly paper airplanes, if they met their quota early. The manager said no. What if they beat their quota by 50 percent? The manager gave in. By 3 pm, the employees had surpassed 150 percent.  Off they went to fly paper airplanes. Fun can be productive.

  • Let your employees know that they matter.

A family environment significantly facilitates a team mentality, especially for those quiet geniuses who like to keep to themselves because they’re shy.

Communicate with them, open and honestly. Tell them how they are doing, good and bad. Most important, leaders should always let their people know they are looking out for them and that they want them to be successful.

Because of the number of Team Members in the company, there’s a lot of good stuff that I never see.  We came up with ‘Caught in the Act of Greatness.’ Every week people fill out their ‘Caught in the Act of Greatness’ cards and recognize each other for doing great work during our weekly Wednesday huddle.

  • Direction: understanding the “why.”

According to a 2016 study in the Wall Street Journal, just under half of U.S. workers said they felt satisfied with their jobs last year. Why? One reason I speculate is that the company hasn’t spent the necessary time and energy connecting the dots for the employee and pointing out exactly how their work, day in and day out, matters.

The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey found that millennials are driven less by profits than purpose.  It found that those workers were likely to stay in their jobs longer if they were satisfied with a workplace’s sense of purpose.  Connecting employee with purpose has become more crucial than ever. 

  • Commit to lifelong learning.

Leaders need to encourage all members to follow a path of personal and professional development.  Every year I offer each of my Team Members $1,000 to be spent on professional development—classes, webinars, networking events, conferences—anything that will improve their performance in their jobs and make an impact in the position.  I also request that each Team Member dedicate 120 hours per year outside of work to professional development.

With increased knowledge, experiences and skills, people lead a more fulfilled life, which can profit everyone within a working environment.

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