Small business owners know the value of a great employee. Unfortunately, the tough economic times make it difficult for employers to financially reward their great employees to show them that they are valued and appreciated. Luckily, though all employees appreciate a bonus or raise in pay, financial rewards are not the only things employees appreciate.
Here are six things employers can do that will not cost a dime (or at least a very few dimes) but will increase the business’ bottom line by creating and fostering great employees:
1. Be Respectful of Your Employees’ Time
As a business owner, your time is extremely valuable. Wasted time is something you cannot afford, and you fill every minute of your schedule with important tasks and meetings.
The same is true for your great employees. Their time is just as valuable as your time because, as your employee, their time is really an extension of yours.
To show respect for your employees’ time, avoid scheduling unnecessary meetings, and don't show up late and leave your employees waiting for you. Unproductive meeting time is a big time-waster. If you are made to wait, you will likely fill that time with other tasks or make up for it later. But the same is not true of your employees, even your great employees. That wasted time is much less likely to be made up later; it instead remains lost, never to be heard from again.
If you are the cause of that wasted time, you are not only hurting your own business, but you are creating a frustrated employee, and even your best employees will get frustrated with a boss who is not respectful of their time. A frustrated employee is not a great employee.
2. Be Understanding of Your Employees’ Lives Outside the Office
Unlike you, the business owner, your employees do not live for your business. Sure, many employees will put your business first, even above their own personal lives, but if an employee’s job prevents them from participating in their personal life too often, resentment will build up.
Certainly, there is an expectation that employees perform their jobs and take their commitment to your business seriously. However, a boss that understands that an employee has a life outside of the office will find an appreciative employee. They'll know their boss will have their back when they need it, and the result will be a happy worker who is willing to put in the extra effort to get the job done.
Letting an employee leave early to attend their kid’s back-to-school night will not result in a business that boards up its doors and windows. But losing great employees that resent their job because it conflicts with their personal life just might.
3. Reward with Perks, Such as Time Off and Freebies
A simple way to add a little bit of honey to sweeten up a great employee’s outlook is to reward hard work with non-monetary perks and benefits.
After a grueling month at the office, letting your employees leave early on a Friday with pay, especially when you stay behind to mind the store, can go a long way to bringing back happy and motivated employees on the following Monday. Paying for lunch a couple times a month can be a big plus as well, especially when it is scheduled so your employees know they can count on it. They will look forward to it, and morale will be higher on those days.
4. Squash Workplace Disputes Immediately
If workplace disputes are not addressed swiftly, at the very least, they will lead to hard feelings or, at its worst, to office feuds. Neither is good for business.
What might seem like a petty dispute may be the difference between a happy employee and a bitter one who thinks only about getting even with a coworker. But the real damage will be when your great employees who are not involved in the dispute get tired of the atmosphere and your inaction.
Nobody likes to work in a hostile and uncomfortable environment. Don’t let other people, such as malcontents and difficult employees, control your business’ work environment. As the leader of your business, you should always be vigilant in making your workplace the best environment it can be. You will retain more quality employees if you do.
5. Maintain a Professional Workplace: Stifle Workplace Gossip and Immature Behavior
Though workplaces differ, and company cultures are not all the same, there is no room in any workplace for gossip and immature behavior. What constitutes gossip and immature behavior will necessarily be interpreted from business to business. A corporate law firm may have a different opinion on what is acceptable workplace behavior than that of a gaming studio.
As the leader of your business, you will need to have your finger on the pulse of where the line should be drawn—and once drawn, do not allow it to be crossed. Your great employees will appreciate it.
6. Acknowledge Your Employees’ Hard Work
Simply acknowledging your employees’ hard work will communicate how much you value their contribution to the business. The first five tips above are all part of that acknowledgement; however, taking the time to personally thank an employee for staying late or putting in an extra effort is something that you can and should do.
But be warned: an insincere "Thank You," or one that is contrived or not deserved, will be sniffed out and will inevitably backfire. Make the "Thank You" sincere and give it only when deserved. Your great employees will notice your effort and will be more willing to put in the extra effort next time.