Whether you have a team of hundreds, or just a few extra people involved in your operations, having staff can be a tricky thing to manage.
“You just can’t get the staff…” goes the saying, but that sort of misses the point.
You absolutely can get the staff, brilliant staff too, but you just have to know how to look after them well enough so that they want to look after your business in return.
Now, looking back more than one hundred years or so ago, getting the best out of your staff was much easier.
Because people were treated unfairly, unkindly and even cruelly at times, all in the name of boosting productivity and getting the most out of the bottom line for the business owners. We’re talking mills and factories here, but there are other examples across a range of different industries.
You’ll have covered working conditions and child labour in school, and so we’re not going to go too deep into the history lesson here, but we will say one thing…
Look at the Industrial Revolution. It did pretty well.
The success of this so-called revolution was achieved by the many, with the rewards reaped by the few.
So, what are we saying?
Bring back child labour and run your staff into the ground for the benefit of you and your business?
That would be pretty controversial and make for a very good discussion, but no, that’s obviously not what we’re saying.
At Trinity U, we work with business owners who are not just living in the here and now, but who are looking to the future of their businesses (and the wider world) when trying to get the best out of their staff.
We help business owners understand what the need to do, and then encourage them to work out what they can do in addition to this, because the bare minimum as per the legal implications is very rarely enough to make your staff tick.
Holidays, sick leave, maternity pay, paternity pay too – you’ll need to make sure that your policies and procedures are robust and fair. This is all about looking after the interests of your business, as much as it is about creating appealing job roles for interested candidates. You need to set yourself up so that you are able to support your staff when they need you, but also so that no one can take advantage of your generosity. It can be a bit of a minefield to walk through, all these statutory bits and bobs, but that’s what we’re here for.
This is, essentially, the basic starting points for looking after and then getting the best out of your staff.
The bit that really gets us going, and your staff too, will be the bespoke bits and pieces you put into place for your staff, the incentives and rewards that set you and your business apart from the rest of the market.
In order to get the bespoke bit right, the most important part of the process is to get to know your staff.
You need to invest the time and energy into learning about the people who work for you, getting to know them in an appropriate way, and ultimately, building relationships where there is mutual respect and understanding.
In business, there is no substitute for a good relationship. A good relationship with your employees, or with an individual staff member will boost productivity, increase profits and make a real difference to the success of your business.
But there’s only one problem with that.
It can be difficult to measure.
Anecdotally of course, it’s easy to say that a happy team makes for a productive environment, but in terms of tracking and mapping things like this, it’s near enough impossible.
A ‘Happy Scale’ hasn’t yet been invented, to test the atmosphere of a workplace, and until one is thought up, we have to think of different ways.
At Trinity U, we like to think about it from the other way round. We like to talk about putting incentives and schemes in place that allow staff to work towards certain achievements or milestones that drive them to want to succeed. That drive them to want to give you their best.
Every single person is different though, which is why we like to encourage a person-centred approach, rather than a one size fits all reward scheme. Pizza Express vouchers for hitting your targets are nice, but what if you have an employee who is more interested in career progression than an occasional pat on the back?
If this is the case, training and CPD might be more their sort of thing. That might get them up in the morning and help them give their all to you and your business.
How can you tell?
We said it before and we’ll say it again – you have to get to know them. You have to build the relationship with your staff.
Yes, you want them to be invested in the ethos and vision of the company or the organisation, but if they’re going to buy into that, you really need to buy into them.
It doesn’t have to be rocket science, but it certainly shouldn’t be an afterthought left to HR with a little bit of a budget every now and then.
We’re not sending children up chimneys, or making men and women work 12 hour shifts in the factories these days.
That is a good thing.
OK, it might not mean productivity is as easy to keep an eye on, but it’s definitely a good thing…
Beer fridges in the office and Friday afternoons spent playing PlayStation on a projector?
Maybe that’s too far the other way, but it’s up to you as a business owner to work out what, when and how much incentive your staff need, in order for you to get the best out of them.
Don’t know what makes them tick?
Time to find out.