While your tools, skills and reputation allow you to operate, it’s your staff who can often influence your trade business’s progress.
Hiring great workers is only half the solution. Once you hire them, you’ve got to retain them. Here’s how.
1. Know your people
One of the simplest but most effective actions an employer can take is to take time to communicate with their employees regularly. Subtly remind them how valued they are by your business by:
- Greeting them by their first names.
- Asking about their wellbeing.
- Thanking them for a job well done.
If you learn their backgrounds and abilities as well, you can reveal a wealth of knowledge and expertise that could be useful to your company. Employees can feel undervalued if their skills aren’t used – especially when the boss has been told about them.
2. Provide consistency
If you haven’t done so already, provide each employee with a detailed job description outlining all their responsibilities, tasks, and targets so they know what a satisfactory performance level is. If a reward is linked to each goal, make sure they know about it.
Now that they know where they stand, it’s up to you to maintain the goals and limits you’ve set. If they change:
- Discuss your new rules with each employee.
- Provide an updated job description so their new responsibilities and targets are on record.
- Consider remuneration, title or benefit boosts if they’re going to take on a greater load.
3. Offer growth opportunities
One of the common characteristics of motivated employees is a focus on professional growth and building a career.
Not all small trade businesses can accommodate careers, but you can give your employees opportunities to add to their CVs. This might mean letting them take charge of jobs, allowing them to lead a small team, or sending them to an industry conference.
4. Optimize incentives
What appeals to one staff member may not appeal to another, so having a standard benefits package won’t necessarily prove competitive. For example, if you’re a builder, find out which staff could use outdated tools. Pass on your older tools to these workers instead of selling them for peanuts – it could be a great move.
Survey your employees regularly to find out what they want, and make sure you act quickly on your findings. What may prove desirable now might not be so desirable in a few years’ time, as lifestyle trends and economic factors change.
5. Be honest
Business owners often want to shield employees from reality if hard times are ahead, but that’s a hard trick to pull off and it can backfire.
Often, hearing nothing about your employer’s future viability is worse than hearing bad news. At the same time, it can send the message that employees aren’t valued because they’re being kept in the dark.
If there are challenges ahead, smart employees will want to know what they are. So detail the hurdles and involve staff in how they and your business are going to attack them.
6. Offer rewards
Rewards don’t have to be hefty bonuses or extra perks – they can be something as simple as a movie pass and a handshake. The important thing is that the employee’s hard work has been recognized.
A common managerial mistake is being ultra-fast in spotting mistakes and then treating a job well done as business as usual. However, you can never assume an employee knows they’re doing a great job. Let them know they’re doing well so they have a level of performance they can aim to maintain.
7. Ask for feedback
You research your markets and competitors, so why not get feedback from your employees? Set up a pressure-free system for gathering feedback, preferably anonymous, or make it clear your door is open so employees can bring up any issues.
You may be surprised to find out what influences your employees’ day-to-day working happiness. Even tiny changes – such as changing the brand of instant coffee in the staff room – can have a big impact on staff.
8. Engage and excite your staff members
Each employee is investing a significant part of their life in their role. If you want them to carry on investing their time and future, make your workplace meaningful and the company fun to work for.
Communicate your passion for your business to your employees and tell them about its potential so it becomes a project they feel great about contributing towards. This can have a positive effect on customer service and it can help create a more emotional connection to their part in your business.
Team-building opportunities aren’t only a way to get staff working more cohesively during work time – they’re also a great way for everyone to have fun. In addition, having regular social events can have a positive impact on staff retention rates.
9. Provide tools and training
Asking someone to carry out a role without the proper training or tools contributes to a feeling of working in an unfair and inconsistent workplace, so make sure your staff are coached and supported sufficiently.
Equally, staff must be given adequate resources to complete their duties, and leeway at times when those resources might be temporarily unavailable.