Your employees are arguably the most important piece of your entire business. They represent the very concept of your company to customers, they hold and advance the vision of your organization, and they offer an intangible value that no computer (or other technology) can provide.
Amongst the growing pains of expanding businesses, it’s all too easy to focus on the numbers and forget about the human aspect. Doing so is a rookie mistake. Here’s why, and how to keep your people happy.
Growth can be stressful, both on the business and employees
Growth in a company brings frictions that are not felt otherwise. Uncertainty, added responsibility, new faces, and additional work are enough to get anybody’s blood pressure up. Periods of rapid change are often challenging and interesting for your people, but there’s no denying that they are stressful too.
When stress is left unchecked, some employees will leave. It’s that simple—even the most loyal and hardworking team members must look out for their own wellbeing. Without your best people, you may find that growth does not happen smoothly (or at all).
Turnover is also hugely expensive, in many ways that may not become apparent immediately. Different studies calculating the costs show different figures, but none are good news for the bottom line of companies with employees leaving due to stress: A 2012 study by the Center for American Progress had it at around 20% of annual salary, while the Society for Human Resource Management has it much higher at 50-60% for direct replacement costs and 90-200% for all related expense. That’s the last thing any employer wants during an already-tricky period of growth.
What it means to invest in your employees
If you want to retain good people, you’ll need to equip them for times of change. It’s not all about offering money as a carrot, although monetary investments like regular raises and bonuses are a good way to show employees you value them and their contribution to the company’s success. An investment in your people looks like training courses for upskilling, personalized incentives, team building, and meaningful time set aside for check-ins and employee feedback. It means recognizing achievements and contributions. It means making team members feel truly valued.
For those loyal people that have been with you from the start, growing from a small organization to a big one comes with a certain sense of loss. The working culture of a small and tight-knit team is like no other. Part of investing in your employees in a way that will bring you through big changes relatively unscathed is ensuring that the company remains a positive place to work. Transparency is a top priority in this—everyone should feel like they are a part of the journey.
A strong and lasting corporate culture will go a long way towards ensuring your team can withstand changes. A 2013 white paper by Aon showed that day-to-day employee engagement drops drastically during upheavals like restructuring, strategy transformation, and acquisitions. Invest intentionally in keeping them engaged, productive, and happy.
Incentives are important for stability
Incentives are more than just a bribe to keep people working hard. Used correctly, they create intrinsic motivation in people by making them feel valued and appreciated—key for a positive, stable workplace without damaging turnover. They range from a simple “thank you” to tangible and valuable perks, and are a fantastic way to invest in your employees to bring them through stressful times of growth and change. Make it obvious that you are grateful for their work, and they are much more likely to want to continue it.
For best results, incentives and perks should be personalized—after all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and what seems like a token gift to one stressed-out employee could be the very thing that causes another to make the decision to stay.
Zestful is a simple solution for highly personalized employee incentivization. As we’ve outlined, growing your business requires investing in your employees—but make it a smart investment.