how to treat employees

How you treat your employees is how they’ll treat your clients

How do you get the best from your employees, keep them engaged and maintain staff morale? You can throw money at the constantly moving target that is employee satisfaction, but that can irritate your investors and bankrupt your company. Equally, you could ignore employee satisfaction, telling your teams that they should be happy to have a job; an approach that also carries risk of affecting staff motivation.

Maintaining healthy relationships within a business is one of the most important parts of company life. People that feel like they are listened to are more likely to be engaged with the company and in turn more likely to go above and beyond their contracted hours when needed.

Here are four simple pieces of advice that can help make sure that employee motivation is valued and contribution is recognised and appreciated.

1. Listen to their opinions

There are many different types of company out there: one-man-bands, partnerships, start-ups with nebulous rosters of freelancers, SMEs, national retail organisations and supra-national conglomerates…

Each has a very different dynamic and the way that information reaches the leadership changes from organisation to organisation.

If you are small and agile, information generally moves up the chain quickly, but larger organisations can face more of a challenge. This is particularly true when team leaders are working hard and potentially don’t have time to digest the importance of a throw-away comment by a subordinate during the hubbub of a team meeting.

There is a way around this however. Survey systems are relatively simple to set up and the current generation can provide a great deal of insight without a massive need for manual analysis. This makes them a very cost-effective tool to show that your organisation is paying attention to the needs of the employee.

2. Show staff you are listening, working and progressing

Whether you implement a regular survey, an occasional survey or stick with an informal feedback process, you need to be showing your employees that you are listening and responding to the challenges that they face and the issues they have. You have to accept that some of the comments will be pie-in-the-sky: Marco Pierre White is very unlikely to want to lend his expertise to the staff canteen and not everyone in the company needs a MacBook Pro but you do need to at least acknowledge their suggestions.

When it’s a big project like the overhaul of an IT system, keeping your employees informed about progress is genuinely important but it’s amazing how often it’s overlooked. Most people will accept that a Q4 2017 target for delivery may well slip into Q1 2018 if you are going to get it right, but if you can keep them informed at least they’ll know that progress is being made.

It doesn’t need to be much, a quarterly information bulletin put out on the company intranet or a note that can cascade down the management chain, will have a positive impact.

3. Remember that management is tact and diplomacy

There are many ways that an employee can help a business and different tasks suit different mind-sets. A business that simply focuses on bringing through one type of person is likely to quickly become inflexible, and inflexibility may not be conducive to longevity in this fascinating economic epoch.

Making sure that all employees understand that all contributions are welcome (within reason) and that managers have the tact to deal with pie-in-the-sky ideas sensitively and fairly is an important part of maintaining employee motivation.

Equally important is ensuring that good ideas are acknowledged, acted on and that people are rewarded for their contributions.

4. Match the reward to the employee

On the subject of staff rewards, it is vital that anything offered is something that the employee genuinely wants. Some people love to get a framed certificate as a thank-you, some people would rather have the equivalent in coffee vouchers and some would rather have a contribution to the sponsorship for that ambitious charity run they’ve signed up to.

Everybody is different and everybody wants to be rewarded in different ways. If a business is going to ensure it’s a genuinely rewarding place to spend a large proportion of your day and become a place where the best and the brightest will spend a fair chunk of their working lives, then it needs to treat employees as individuals when it’s rewarding their success.

In the end, in any type of business how you treat your employees is how they’ll treat your customers. And if your employees are happy, they are more likely to keep your customers happy, and if your customers are happy, they are more likely to keep coming back.