Effective business operators recognize the value of competent staff, so talent is high on any entrepreneur’s wish list. Having good employees is so important to business success that securing top candidates has grown highly competitive, now driving a brisk recruiting industry. The value of having standouts on your team can’t be understated – strong staff elevates your organizational ability. But what is your responsibility to employees? And why should you invest in human resources?

The State of the Workforce

If you’ve ever wondered whether or not your employees are happy, or have general concerns about the health of the workforce, recent data compiled by Gallup may provide the answers you’re looking for. The polling for Gallup’s State of The Global Workplace report found low levels of job satisfaction across the world. According to the study, 85 percent of workers worldwide are dissatisfied with their jobs.

Low worker morale is a costly drain on productivity, potentially resulting in lost annual revenue worth upwards of $7 trillion. If that’s not enough, replacing an employee may cost twice the amount of his or her salary, so employers also lose money when jobs turn over.

Despite these incentives for companies to retain and develop talent, the high number of displeased workers suggests businesses are failing to engage employees. A recent Entrepreneur article suggests companies may be falling short in these areas:

  • Communication – Fundamental failures in communication are common in commercial environments, costing companies millions annually. Poor standards and policies may be to blame for lackluster communication in some organizations, and there’s also a price to pay for miscommunication, which has been shown to impact businesses of all sizes.
  • Training – Companies too often view training as an expense, rather than the important investment that it really is. The result for companies failing to develop and engage employees is a costly cycle of low productivity and high turnover.
  • Micromanagement – In contrast to management styles that leave employees without any support, micromanagement goes too far monitoring employee activities. Hovering supervisors, surveillance, and other measures designed to enhance productivity may actually be working against you, alienating staff and prompting some team members to move on.
  • Use of Resources – Rather than investing in their development, companies frequently use interns to boost productivity, without adding payroll costs. The practice not only goes against the traditional intern/mentor relationship, but it also undermines employee morale.

Employee Development is a Business Opportunity

Sprout Funding logoTreating workers fairly is the right thing to do – just ask Richard Branson, who famously said employees are more important than customers. As vital as it is in the workplace, fairness isn’t the only reason to invest in staff members. Building a better workforce also enhances your reputation, attracting future talent, and provides incentives for employees to perform at a high level. Considering the return on investment, employee engagement is more of an opportunity than an expense, prompting effective entrepreneurs to invest heavily in their employees. It is particularly important to keep young workers engaged.

Workplace culture and personal development are important job concerns for millennials, so attracting top talent from the generation requires a progressive approach, finding out what millennial staffers want and doing your best to deliver a fulfilling work experience. More than ever before, young members of the workforce are known to part ways with employers that fail to help them learn and grow.

Job Satisfaction Reflects on Customer Care

While you drive your organization’s vision and facilitate business operations behind the scenes, your employees stand front and center, interacting with clients and customers. Can you afford to have unhappy faces representing your business? The simple answer is no; employee engagement is a clear priority.

Investing in staff satisfaction pays dividends such as:

  • Better Client Relationships – Low employee turnover sends positive signals to your clients, creating continuity from one interaction to the next.
  • Positive Branding – Team members enthused about your goods and services project positive brand messages.
  • Higher Service Standards – Employees that feel valued go above and beyond their basic job descriptions, seeking ways to improve their performance.
  • Memorable Customer Experience – Studies show companies that consistently create a positive customer experience are staffed with a higher percentage of engaged employees than companies falling short on CE are.
  • Increased Sales – Employee fulfillment directly impacts your bottom line. Gallup research indicates engaged employees sell 20 percent more than dissatisfied workers.

The High Price of Poor Engagement

With 85 percent of the global workforce reporting dissatisfaction on the job, employers have work to do, engaging staff. Cultivating a positive workplace culture that values employees is a critical first step for small business entrepreneurs, or they risk paying the high price of employee turnover.

Time spent training replacements, slowed productivity, recruiting expenses, and lost expertise are only a few of the costs of high employee turnover. Engaging employees and investing in their development not only reduces these unnecessary expenses, but keeping staff happy also engenders loyalty. Dedicated, long-term collaborators are best equipped to maximize opportunity, so retaining respected, loyal employees benefits your company on multiple levels.

Ways to Invest

You may not be a Google-sized brand, but your small business can learn HR lessons from the giant. The progressive company takes a casual approach with employees, allowing flexible dress and personalized work spaces. Perks rise to the next level with laundry facilities, common areas on campus, meals, and other comforts, above and beyond traditional health, vision, and dental insurance (also provided). Google guidelines incorporate flexibility for each staff member to spend time working on special projects; Google Maps, AdSense, and even Gmail were all developed as a result of the policy.

  • Listen – Listening to your team helps shape effective engagement strategies, showing you where to invest in staff. You may hear a call for flexible scheduling, more vacation time, remote work opportunities, education assistance, or perks such as gym memberships, daycare provisions, and paid parental leave. Though you may not be able to provide everything on your employees’ wish list, open lines of communication ensure you know what’s most important to them.
  • Challenge and Support – The most productive employees are those that feel both valued and challenged. However, setting high standards can backfire, if you fail to provide the support employees need to deliver at a high level.
  • Celebrate – Professional celebration takes many forms, including sharing the spoils of a profitable venture. But higher pay isn’t the only way to engage staff. Your employees also want to be heard, rewarded, and lauded for their accomplishments.

Employees are your most valuable asset, so doubling down on your investment is almost never a bad idea. Not only do communication, training, and support lead to better workplace culture, but your commitment to employee development also shows in your bottom line.

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