It’s no gross overstatement to say that employees are an essential asset for businesses and that effectively managing employees is necessary to keep operations running smoothly.
However, the importance of employees is magnified for small businesses, where the margins for error are tighter, and the chances of going under are higher. Small business owners need to prioritize effective employee management if they want to make it past the dreaded five-year bottleneck.
Small businesses must embrace changing workplace attitudes and foster a supportive yet productive workplace environment. No employee should “dread” coming into the office or feel like their needs are being ignored by upper management. Yet, some structure of office hierarchy needs to be maintained to achieve a company’s goals and objectives.
The following tips are designed to help small business owners walk the tightrope and find employee-management solutions that work for the whole organization.
Be Clear With Employee Expectations and Obligations
If a business’s employees aren’t meeting expectations or effectively fulfilling their obligations, management should first explore the source—what directions, expectations, and objectives were given for the task? More likely than not, there was a miscommunication of expectations and goals.
However, management should go further than providing clear expectations for employees. They also need to explain the function and purpose behind what an employee has to do. If an employee does not understand why they have to perform a process a certain way, they might stray from the original process due to the natural tendency for people to seek the path of least resistance.
A lack of clarity from upper management as to why an employee must do a task in a specific way will breed resentment and ultimately undermine the overall influence of management. This assumes that the small business owner is competent and has answers to the procedural questions employees might ask.
Provide Structure With Clear, Communally-Defined Goals
An organization that doesn’t respond to its employees’ needs is destined to have productivity issues. It’s one thing to be a hands-off administrator, but it’s another entirely to be negligent and ignorant of a lack of direction or purpose among employees.
Management should work with employees to determine their career goals and how those goals best line up with the goals of the organization. By creating communally-defined plans that both the employees and management share, managers make a unified purpose and a clearly defined structure, which helps to improve productivity as both managers and employees are working towards the same results.
Additionally, being responsive to employees’ needs and aspirations is simply a good business practice. It shows that a business is invested in its employees’ success because it works with them to help them reach career goals in a mutually beneficial way.
Improve Employee Retention Rates By Properly Onboarding and Training Employees
A lack of appropriate training is the number one reason employees cite for leaving their jobs. If business owners want to invest in a workforce that matures and evolves alongside a company, they need to do so from day one.
Most employees who cite a lack of training on the job leave after six months of employment. Six months is not enough time for any institutional knowledge to develop meaningfully. Management needs to develop a comprehensive training program for each role, as well as create a general orientation program to get employees excited about and engaged with the workplace culture.
Invest in Your Employees Outside of Work
Another way management can help employees reach their career (as well as personal) goals is to help invest in them as people. Whether it’s through helping employees pay down student loans by matching payments, paying for gym membership benefits, helping to pay for classes or extra training, or encouraging employees to learn about finance, such as commercial real estate investing, there are ways employers can directly better the lives of their employees.
A Business Is Only As Strong As Its Employees
Remember, employees are a business’s most vital asset. Managing them appropriately and providing opportunities for them to advance in their careers will only serve to strengthen a business’s institutional knowledge and productivity.
Mismanaging them will lead to low employee retention rates and an unproductive work environment.