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Operation: Employee Loyalty - How SMBs keep their workers happy

22 Oct, 2007 By: Ty Freyvogel imageSource

Operation: Employee Loyalty - How SMBs keep their workers happy

Every business owner or entrepreneur knows the hectic lifestyle that comes
along with starting and running a company, especially in the always changing
document tech marketplace! But have you ever considered how your own work
schedule affects your employees? You can bet the fate of your business on the
fact that they don't get the same reward of putting in extra long hours to
finish the latest project that wasn't given the correct lead time in the first
place. Since many of your employees can make or break your business, you must
keep your best ones around.

First, employees of most SMBs are often asked to go beyond the call of duty.
And they usually do it without receiving huge paychecks, or often, too small
commissions. You're not able to pay hefty salaries you say? You feel you're at a
huge disadvantage compared to CEOs of large corporations because you lack their
deep pockets? Well, you can take advantage of a zillion other ways to create
happier, loyal employees!

SMBs can work closely with their employees rather than being separated by
layers of bureaucracy, so actually, it is easy for them (you!) to get to know
their employees well. Think about it. You know many of your employees' pressure
points and what makes them happy. If you use some useful information to meet
their special needs (and even surprise them with a few extra perks), you will be
able to build stronger relationships with them which keeps them feeling
validated, and ultimately, loyal.

12 Ways to Ensure Loyal Employees

  • Provide them with deserved time off. Time off doesn't have to translate to
    the business as being understaffed for the day. There are all kinds of ways to
    give your staff a little break without slowing the business down. Offer
    letting them leave earlier on a Friday afternoon or to take an extended lunch
    hour now and then without repercussions. Another option is to set up a few
    compressed work weeks for your staff so that they earn time off at the end of
    those scheduled weeks. You'll help them ward off burnout and they'll be more
    productive afterwards.
  • Give them bonuses at critical times. Presumably, you work closely with
    your staff and know quite a lot about their lives outside of work. Act on this
    knowledge in ways that benefit them exactly when they need it most. If one of
    your employees has a new baby or a sick spouse or child, an overdue bonus will
    help ease the financial burden during these times.
  • Be flexible. Be more flexible when an employee has to take unexpected time
    off or needs to work a new schedule. If an employee is having a real personal
    problem, help create a work schedule that allows for solving the problems in
    due time. One of the perks of living in the Age of Technology is that location
    is no longer an issue, depending on the job. Your employees might be
    interested in telecommuting at least part of the time or working flexible
  • Help them better themselves (and in turn improve your business!). 
    Contribute to your employees’ overall health. Make space for a small fitness
    room if possible that is open before and after work for them to take advantage
    of. Or check out a gym that offers special discounts to companies or groups,
    or a wellness consultant that everyone can learn from. Employees will
    appreciate that you care about their health, and the end result will help you
    save money in lost sick time.
  • Feed them! A free lunch every now and then is one of the easiest (and most
    appreciated) perks an employer can provide.  It's a great way for any employer
    to say “Thank you” after a particularly rough work week or for a job well
    done. Another great idea for employers is providing a delivered meal for any
    employee who is working late. You'll be surprised at just how far a full
    stomach goes in building employee loyalty!
  • Make them feel like owners. Whether it comes from having a voice in
    decisions, being able to work directly with clients or actually owning stock,
    the sense of employee ownership will go a long way toward instilling a sense
    of value and worth. Listen to your employees suggestions; often they see
    things you don't because they are in the trenches.
  • Make  sure  they have everything they need to do their jobs. Nothing 
    frustrates  a high performing sales  rep or manager more than having to
    struggle to do his job because he doesn't  have the right computer program  or
    because he must make do with faulty equipment. Provide the tools to maximize
    your employees' efforts  at increasing productivity and profitability.
  • Provide employee attendance incentives. It's likely that your best
    employees are high performers who come in even when they're feeling under the
    weather; never hesitating to come to the office to take care of an emergency.
    These are the employees who deserve attendance benefits. For example, for
    every 6 months without an absence, give them an extra vacation day, or a bonus
    of some kind. This will instill that there are rewards for taking work
  • For business owners and managers, your employees are your greatest asset.
    The respect and loyalty resulting from your actions toward them will promote
    great company teamwork and be the foundation that keeps your best employees
  • Be sensitive about their strengths and weaknesses. Carefully evaluate
    where your employees do their best work, and ask them what jobs they feel the
    most comfortable doing. For example, if an employee isn’t a people person,
    chances are she won’t excel in customer service or sales. If an employee
    expresses an interest in getting trained for a different area, IT or service,
    by all means get them trained!
  • Help with ongoing education (and in turn improve your business!). You can
    do this by paying for employees to take a class that will help them improve in
    areas that need work. If a manager isn’t using the best methods to motivate
    employees, send them to one of the available seminars for improving their
    executive communication skills.
  • Recognize a job well done. Everyone likes to be told they’ve done a good
    job on something, especially your employees. Typically, people who are
    interested in working for SMBs are driven a lot by recognition, even more or
    as much as dollars. So whether you implement an Employee of the Month plaque
    or simply say, “Thanks for the great job!” never miss an opportunity to give
    your employees the recognition they deserve.
  • Help them leave if it isn’t the right job for them. Working in a small
    business isn’t for everyone. If you notice that one of your employees is
    struggling in your office environment or simply isn’t happy, talk with them
    about whether or not your business is the right place to work for them. If you
    collectively decide that it isn’t, help them make their transition to another
    job by giving them a good recommendation or referral. You never know who they
    may refer back to you, and likely they will praise you to other prospects or
    even clients they have made friends with.

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