Have you ever read articles by marketing guru, Seth Godin? Although he focuses on marketing, a lot of what he talks about can be related to HR issues: employee engagement, employee retention, and employee productivity.
In some of his articles and speeches, he talks about a race to the bottom: an urge by businesses to do things cheaper and drive down costs, to extort workers to show up and work harder for less, in order to underbid a competitor.
But the problem with the race to the bottom is that you might win. You might make a few more bucks for now, but someone will always find a way to be cheaper than you.
Instead, he exhorts that we should participate in a race to the top. Focus on quality, respect, dignity, guts, innovation, sustainability, and generosity. By focusing on these values, organisations can get ensure that they have happy, engaged and productive employees, without having to sacrifice quality.
Here are five things you can do ensure your employees are happy, engaged and productive:
Give them the tools needed to do their job
Often one of the biggest things that cause staff to be unproductive is the little niggles: printers not working, computer or networks running slowly, or even uncomfortable office chairs.
Find out from your employees what little niggles are stopping them from doing their jobs and get them fixed. You may need to invest some money in the solutions to these problems, but it will be worth it in the end.
Ensure employees take their breaks
Taking breaks helps employees deal with the stresses and strains of their job and deal with personal tasks. While you should ensure employees take their breaks, don’t legislate breaks by monitoring them to the minute. Instead, make them part of the company culture, and get managers and senior leaders to take their breaks so employees don’t feel guilty about taking them.
Provide a break area where employees can socialise with each other or just get a few moments peace and quiet. Put in balance balls and bean bags for sitting on, standing desks, snack cupboards and a table full of Lego to help employees switch off for a few minutes.
Provide support for issues outside of work
There is a direct link between stress and performance at work, which highlights the need for employers to provide employee benefits that improve the mental wellbeing of their employees.
An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) supports employees with advice, assistance and counselling when they need it to help them manage and deal with their problems. While financial education workshops and events on a range of financial wellbeing subjects such as managing debt, saving for retirement, and managing your monthly budget can help employees manage their financial concerns.
Say “Thank you!”
All too often with the pressures of meeting deadlines and quality standards it is easy to forget to show our gratitude, yet a little recognition and praise can have a significant impact on employee engagement and productivity.
Offering praise is a ‘soft skill’ that many managers struggle to utilise. Encourage your managers to walk through the office, taking the time to stop and talk to their employees, thanking them for their hard work and highlighting team members and co-workers who are working hard on a project or going above and beyond their job description.
Listen to your employees
Your employees know their job better than anyone else, so ask them what they need to do their job better. You may be surprised by their suggestions! Your employees may have some great ideas to improve products and processes but they need time to be able to work on making it happen, or they might have ideas for employees benefits that enhance their work-life balance so that they become more productive.