Investing In Your Employees & How It Can Benefit You

Investing In Your Employees & How It Can Benefit You

"Customers come second, employees come first." Richard Branson, Founder at Virgin Group.

Loyal staff are difficult to find and even harder to lose. At the end of the day, if you're not investing in your team, you're not investing in the future of your business. A very wise man, Jonny Tooze, once told me that "your recruitment pipeline is just as important as your sales pipeline." This got me thinking about all of the effort we put into keeping clients satisfied and on board. We need to put the same amount of effort into making our staff feel valued and ensuring they stay with us because of this.

In some scenarios, the cost of replacing an employee could be double the price of their salary (or more!). To save your business the expense of losing their skills, in addition to recruiting and training new staff, it's important to invest in the ones you've got.

Aside from effectively reducing the turnover of staff in your workplace, investing in your team is a vital part of creating an engaged workforce. Everybody wants to work for an organisation that promotes their growth, values their opinion and prioritises their mental health, right? Which is why a lot of candidates will read through reviews on Glassdoor and LinkedIn before applying for a position. Making sure that both of these boxes are positively ticked will ensure that you are attracting strong candidates. On the flipside of this, you can't expect much. Who would want to work at a company that sees its staff as disposable assets? Not me. 

I would recommend you invest in your staff just as much as you would invest in other aspects of your business - you will marvel at the wide-ranging and beneficial effects on your company. 

For me, it is extremely important to live up to this testament. In order to fulfil this, I have done my research and compared back to the way we run things at Cold Banana. and adapted where I can to ensure we are doing all that we can to keep our employees content.

Here are my pointers to do just that:

Firstly, why should I invest in my staff?

You will find that as employees begin to feel happier at work, they will naturally become more productive and what they produce will be come higher-quality as a result of this. 

Following that, better work means higher quality for your enterprise overall; and as your company yields better services or products, your reputation will grow and improve, making your company more likely to thrive. Happy employees, happy balance sheet and happy you.

How do I invest in my employees?

After doing my research, I have discovered that approximately 30% of new employees leave a job within their first 90 days, with many expressing that a lack of engagement was their reason for not sticking around longer. Apart from providing them with the necessary paperwork, making new staff feel welcome by introducing them to the wider team and ensuring that are comfortable with their responsibilities can make such a big difference. At Cold Banana this is very important to us, to make sure our newest recruit feels welcome and at home.

In your onboarding pack, give them all the essentials they will need; aim to include a clear agenda for their first few weeks, as well as an overview of the business values, an insight into how they contribute to the business's overall mission, set clear expectations for the role and the chance to ask questions. We also dedicate time to take our new members of the team around the office to meet everyone face to face and break up the overload of information. (Which understandably can be overwhelming for some!) As mentioned in my previous article on LinkedIn, we also like to take new recruits out for lunch at the end of their first week, to give them a wholesome welcome and find our how their week has gone! 

Remember, listening is investing:

Feeling valued is something that all employees want. One was of achieving this is to listen to them. Take in what they contribute. By doing this, you are promoting good communication, but you'll also get to hear some fresh perspectives and new ideas in the process. A great way to look at it is like this: Every single person on this planet has the capacity and potential to come up with the next million pound idea. (Think like this, and you'll never be too busy to listen to your staff again!)

For example, let's look at Starbucks. Back in 2001, one inventive barista began writing the names of customers on their cups to avoid confusion when handing out drink orders. It wasn't long before this bright idea got back to head office and just months later, this "first-name-basis" approach became a standard of service at all Starbucks stores. Starbucks even ended up producing a televised advert to promote this new "personal approach."

With this in mind, you should take time every day to show appreciation to your team. Building long-lasting, meaningful relationships takes time, just like anything else worth investing in. It shows our commitment. Listen with your heart as well as your ears. Empathy is the key. Be in the moment, free from distractions and really focus on the conversation. Let them know you are actively listening, otherwise you may miss key pieces of information. For these scenarios, being physically present is not enough. I personally thoroughly enjoy catching up with my team and getting to know them better. It really reinforces Cold Banana's value of Togetherness and what a great team I am lucky enough to work with. Gallup's State of Global Workplace Report found that companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202% in terms of profitability. (That's a lot!)

Prioritise work-life balance:

Now, you may think "that's obvious" when pointed out, but it's so easy to forget that your team's performance directly impacts your success. Whilst it can be good to challenge your staff and keep them motivated, if you ask too much of them, you may risk burnouts. If you have staff who are consistently working overtime, ensure you reward them for their efforts; but on the other hand, also encourage them to take a break and be flexible when they do request time off for their holidays. I am lucky to have an ambitious team and all of them work extremely hard, which I am very proud of. Sometimes it can be daunting to think that someone is going on holiday, but as long as we are prepared and handover to other members of staff to cover in plenty of time, this always runs smoothly and enables us to be more flexible.

Invest in Development & Training Opportunities:

If there is a lack of development in a role, this can make individuals feel disconnected and disengaged at work. Now, I'd be wrong if I said that none of us have mundane parts to our jobs; but if you feel like you're stagnating, you're heading towards a dead end. Chances are, you'll start looking elsewhere for something fresh.

To combat this, try scheduling regular meetings with your team members. This is an excellent way of getting their feedback and finding out how they seem themselves developing in their role. It may be that they want to move into management for example. If this is the case, think about how best to equip them with the leadership skills they will need for this.

Giving your team the chance to grow is so important - you can do this by offering plenty of opportunities for further training. As well as being one of the most effective ways to show your employees that you are invested in them, bu offering training, you are also strengthening the quality of staff that you have, making it a mutually beneficial investment. What's more, offering opportunities like this can be used as a recruitment tool to attract top talent and can boost employee satisfaction.

This kind of development can be done in various ways, including but not limited to, providing on-the-job training, sending employees to seminars or workshops and giving them access to online learning tools. Additionally, investing in your team's skills shows potential customers that the company is committed to providing the best quality products and services.

There are many people that consider undertaking professional qualifications or further education to enhance their skills and employability, but are deterred by the costs of tuition and finding the available finances to fund their studies. But what if more people thought like Richard Branson and recognised the benefits of investing in staff development? "Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don't want to."

According to a survey by LinkedIn, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development. So...what are you waiting for?

Incentivise with perks:

Offering a good range of benefits ensures that your staff are rewarded for their efforts whilst also boosting morale. This is an easy way to keep staff happy! As long as the benefits your business offers are tailored to your employees' needs, they needn't cost a fortune. Above all else, employees value flexible working hours, private medical insurance and working from home. At Cold Banan, we offer hybrid working for our staff, which gives our team the flexibility to refresh their working routine each week. We also have other incentive schemes such as the Tech Scheme. (This helps our employees to purchase electrical good for the home and set up their own manageable payment plan.)

Foster a healthier work environment:

83% of employers say that their employees are satisfied with the benefits they receive; 21% points more than the proportion of employees who say they are satisfied. (Scary statistics!)

The bottom line is that despite the efforts and investments of many employers to expand their offerings, the gap between the number of benefits provided by employers and the number expected by employees is widening more quickly than in the past. Bridging this gap is critical to improving employee satisfaction with benefits, which has reached its lowest level in a decade.

The last few years have been a time of consistent change, which has left a heavy mark on a lot of people's mental health. Almost overnight, people had to get used to an entirely new reality with lockdown and remote work, online school, etc. A lot have struggled with stress and anxiety, which also would have had a knock-on effect to their work-life balance. Now, more than ever, it's so important to pay greater attention to providing employees with all of the necessary support to help them maintain a stead mental health. Psychological safety is long-sought after now more than ever. 

Incentives we have brought in for our employees include our Health Cas Plan, and our Cycle-to-Work Scheme - both promoting better physical and mental health inside and outside the workplace. We have also built a gym in our office for our staff - not only as an additional benefit so that they can save money on external gyms, but as a way to get them away from their desks at lunchtime and contribute to a good work/life balance.

Start a Buddy system:

Starting a new role can be extremely intimidating for some of us, especially when meeting a lot of new faces. As part of your induction for a new recruit, consider pairing them with a more seasoned employee. In addition to providing a good opportunity for them to learn from someone else in the company, you're also ensuring they know at least one friendly face. This doesn't have to be just for new starters either: encouraging hot-desking can be a good way for existing staff to build new relationships with colleagues they don't already know that well. Although we don't specifically do "hot-desking: we do re0shuffle the desks around the office every now and then to refresh the space, but also the outlooks of our team. As mentioned above, it's great for building relationships between the team.

Compensate competitively:

If you want your employees to stick around, you're going to need to compensate them fairly. If you're a start up, this may be easier said than done, due to being limited on what you can afford in the first stages of your business journey; but ensure that you make this clear when first listing the job. Ideally, you should be aiming to reevaluate pay at least once a year. It's also worth bearing in mind that compensation includes more than just pay. If you can't afford to give everyone a pay rise, consider implementing benefits such as: extra paid time off, or more flexible working options as I mentioned above.

Team Building:

Encourage regular team building exercises. When employees work together, they can accomplish more than they could on their own. This will increase team engagement. For some individuals, it's monetary. For others, it's time. (For example, you might want to avoid "after-work pizza parties" if you know your employees prioritise family time.) Regardless of the situation or organisation, understanding your team is the best way to invest in them.

This ability to understand your team and how they work, what motivates them; is a skill that is in short supply these days. As I mentioned in my previous article on "Leadership", getting to know your team personally and being their advocate when they have earned it, will naturally increase engagement within your team and will have your team going to the ends of the earth with you. Life is too short to work for a problematic organisation.

Whilst you obviously cannot force friendships in the workplace, you can certainly foster it. Things like scavenger hunts or playing sports together are some great ideas. You also might want to consider doing a yearly team offsite. This is something else that we like to do with our team, normally around the springtime and sometimes in the summer months. It's a great opportunity for your team to step away from the day-to-day work and build camaraderie. Plus, they're a tone of fun and can give your team something special to look forward to each year.

Build/Create a mission statement/company values:

Employees are looking for more than just any way to pay the bills. They want to make a difference and have a greater societal impact, particularly millennials. Whilst 50% of millennials will say pay is the most important factor in a job, the other 50% are also willing to take a pay cut for a job that aligns with their own values.

You could ask your employees to contribute to a mission statement or company values; What do they find fulfilling about their roles personally? What impact are they seeing or hearing from customers each day?

Combining their experiences into your business values gives employees a sense of ownership in their work and the business's overall success - leading to more engagement, more motivation and better performance.

Our values are:

Togetherness. Partnerships. Opportunity. Positivity.

Achievement Awards:

We hand out "fun" achievement awards at the end of the year - normally at our Christmas Celebration - as a laugh amongst the team. We also award an employee of each month throughout the year and then an employee of the year. The way this is decided is through feedback given from all members of the team through our HR system. This is such an uplifting way of giving people feedback, and really helps to motivate them.

It's so important to discuss feedback with your staff. If you're taken by surprise when an employee leaves, this is not a good sign. The moment you realise an employee is unhappy shouldn't be when they hand in their resignation, especially not on a small team.

I also think it's a nice idea to celebrate work anniversaries with something personal. Share stories of hard work, highlight accomplishments and communicate how grateful you are that this person is here working with you.

Nothing bad can ever come of investing in your team, so why not start now?

Interested in finding out more about Cold Banana then get in touch.
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