What is your business’s most important asset?

employee engagement and leadership

And are you treating it that way?

Overheard at a coffee machine somewhere in Indiana:

MANAGER 1: We need to spend some money to train our employees.
MANAGER 2: Yeah, but what if we train them, and they just leave?
MANAGER 1: Yeah, but what if we DON’T train them, and they stay?

When asked “What’s most important to your business?” the answer given most often is “Our people.” So, which is the correct answer? Your people are who make your business successful. They are who your clients interact with, likely more often than you.

QUESTION 1: Do you treat your employees like your most valuable asset?

If you answered no, you probably need to stop here and do some soul-searching. If you answered ‘yes” please proceed.

QUESTION 2: What is your plan for engaging, retaining, and helping your employees grow and succeed in the New Year?

It’s OK if you don’t have an answer to this one. It’s a tough question. But one you should be working on an answer to. Because engaging your employees and demonstrating their value to your organization can return substantial benefits to both your company as well as the employees themselves.

So, how can you most effectively engage your employees?

It seems like I can’t go a week without seeing some article on how to engage millennial employees. Millennials, while famous for their short attention-spans, are certainly not the only ones you have to engage. You should be committed to seeing that any employee, of any age or tenure, is truly engaged and reaching their true potential.

Here are a few of the items that I believe should be on every business owner/manager’s checklist for employee engagement:

  • Personality tests to help determine how they optimally function
  • Frequent and open communication, with feedback going both ways
  • Putting them in a position to succeed (Even if it may not be their current position – this includes providing them the tools and resources they need to succeed)
  • Follow the Platinum Rule – “Treat others how they would like to be treated” (Nobody is exactly the same as you, so they may not want to be treated like you, as per the Golden Rule)

Putting your employees in a position to succeed and providing them opportunities to learn and grow is a great way to engage them. I recently finished a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In it, she says that one of the true keys to happiness is learning and growing. I agree and think that fostering this kind of environment can have a HUGE impact on how your employees feel about you and your company. This can be anything from conferences, to MOOCs, to mentoring, to just providing the platform to share best practices across the organization.

I want to touch on MOOCS real fast (Massive Open Online Courses, like Coursera). These can be great, cost-effective ways to provide opportunities for learning for specific areas in which your employees want to learn and grow. Check them out if you’re not familiar.

Ok, so let’s end with retaining. You’re probably thinking if we engage our employees, and help them grow and succeed, won’t they stay with my business? The answer is that your chances of retaining that employee drastically improves. But it’s not a sure thing. Honestly, I have found that every employee is different as to what it takes to get them to stay at your company. You would be surprised at how few people come out and just ask their employees why they stay and what would make them leave. In the case of retaining your employees, in addition to the factors previously discussed, communication is a huge factor.

So, as you interact with your employees in the new year, think about how you treat your most valuable asset.  As always, I’m here to talk about your business plans, people plans, or anything else that’s on your mind.