Richard Branson once said that the best strategy when it comes to employee wellbeing was this: “Train your staff well enough so they can leave; treat them well enough so they won’t want to.” If anyone knows what they’re talking about, it’s him.
The benefits of employee happiness are far more concrete than they get credit for. Forbes made the astute observation that of the companies listed in Fortune’s “Top 100 Companies to Work For” last year, the average revenue increased by 22.2% per annum.
As an employer, you can capitalise on this psychological factor in a way that benefits your business by looking after those who work for you. Here are some of the dos and don’ts.
DO: Pay People Well
This one seems so elementary it’s almost not worth mentioning, but you’d be surprised how many employers believe it’s not important. People’s happiness is limited if they don’t make enough to enjoy a decent quality of life.
You don’t have to shower them in gold; just give them a competitive wage. And don’t be afraid to pay your executives more. You need to provide an incentive to take on responsibility and reward innovation. It also encourages other employees to strive for a promotion, helping them stay engaged in their current work to provide them with a brighter future.
DON’T: Have Favourites
You need to be alert to this from the get-go. A common mistake employers make is becoming attached to one employee and thus giving them exclusive benefits. This doesn’t have to be monetary; it can even be the uneven distribution of the jobs that other people may want or even be better at.
Abandoning favouritism opens your eyes to new ideas and gives employees a voice. If you engage in these relationships, you’ll understand how they tick and start to optimise their work potential, while making them feel valued at the same time. It’s a win-win.
DO: Provide Benefits
Childcare, transport, catering - they’ll all improve employee satisfaction across the board. Anything you do to save your employees money shows that you care about them past their status as a financial asset.
You should also encourage your employees to nurture their abilities by attending classes and conferences that the company will pay for. They’ll come back refreshed and will inject new life into your office.
And of course, you should buy the occasional round of drinks for your comrades. It shows them you appreciate them on a personal level.
DON’T: Point Out All Their Flaws
If one of your employees is making mistakes on the job, resist the urge to sit them down and tell them everything that they’re doing wrong. It never works.
Think about it this way. A bad tutor will point out mistakes right away, rattling off a scathing list. Their students will never improve, not only because their confidence is shattered but also because they aren’t being offered any real advice.
That student will probably look for a new tutor.
You can’t avoid highlighting areas to improve in your employees; that’s why quarterly reviews exist. You can, however, be more sensitive. Offer advice while on the job, and never point out more than one issue at a time. That way, you allow employees to improve in one area so that they’re equipped to improve in others.
DO: Value Employee Safety
Many employers make claims that their employees are safe, but show little evidence to support them. Have you budgeted for all the right safety equipment in your office in the case of an emergency? Have you trained any of your employees in first aid?
A great example of how valuing employee safety can increase profit comes from an anecdote recorded in Dr Noelle Nelson’s book, Make More Money By Making Your Employees Happy. The story goes that in 1987, Paul O’Neill - CEO of top aluminium manufacturer Alcoa - took the initiative to put employee safety back at the top of the priority list. He budgeted for a great deal more safety measures to be implemented in the workplace, significantly reducing the accident rates on his factory floors.
By 2000, Alcoa’s revenue had increased by 500%.
So it does pay off, people. When people are cared about, they care back. The benefits are more than just monetary.