What Keeps You Awake at Night?
Remember how you once felt that your boss and your company were not looking out for you?
The pay was ok, but the raises were miniscule and the benefits were so-so. You worked hard and put in extra hours, but got scant if any praise for your efforts. And you saw many senior people let go, not because they did anything wrong. Instead, the company decided they were costing too much in salary and they could get a younger person for much less money to do their job.
Remember that? How did it feel? Not very good at all I am sure. Unfortunately, too many business leaders feel that by demonstrating to employees that by caring about them, they are coddling instead of valuing them. If you fundamentally do not care about employees, then you do not deserve to be in a leadership role.
The most effective way to get work done through employees is to both maximize accountability for results and create an environment of care and inspiration.
So now you are in the position where you are responsible for certain aspects of your employees’ wellbeing. And you are uneasy and unsure that what you are doing is correct and proper. You know you are doing more than most, but is it enough? And it keeps you awake at night wondering.
So, what do you do about it? For starters, review this list of things you should be doing and make sure all of these items are being handled:
Provide a safe and clean workplace
Are you providing a good if not great environment to work in? Is it a place where you want to work? If not, it is time to make some changes.
The workplace needs to be functional and inviting. It needs to make people want to come to work each day. You aren’t looking to create a palace, but if you expect your people to spend one third of the lives there, it must be accommodating and allow them to get their work done in a degree of comfort and security.
Support career growth
Not everyone wants to spend their entire career doing the same thing for 40 or more years. Those days are long past. And even if they do, the job itself will change with the times based on new technologies, competitors and client wants and needs.
In order to keep your people up on the latest skills and advancements, you need to support their professional growth. This occurs through a combination of course work, seminars, professional associations and meeting other professionals and networking.
All of these need to be regularly encouraged and promoted.
Recognize hard work
Giving a paycheck every two weeks or whatever is not enough. Nor is casually saying. “Good job”. You need to make it something special when you recognize good work and have the person who did it feel special.
It could be a special lunch. Or some extra time off. Perhaps a small gift is appropriate. Letting their co-workers join in the recognition is important too. Peer recognition goes a long way in making employees feel special.
Offer competitive benefits and pay fairly
Perhaps the biggest thing you can do for your employees is to ensure that they are properly compensated and that their benefits (Especially healthcare) are taken care of.
As president of a company for 17 years, this was one of my biggest concerns. As the leader of the company, I was responsible for the well being not only of the employee, but also his or her family.
In that regard, I made sure that salaries were fair and were at or above market rates. Our benefits were second to none and we regularly gave annual bonuses to all of the employees.
In 2008, we didn’t lay off any employees despite reduced business. We all took salary cuts instead. When thing turned around, we paid back every cent that had been reduced. It took a year or so, but the employees were made whole.
Demonstrate your trust
Trust is not a given, it is earned. You earn it by doing right by your employees.
That means that when they do something wrong, they are told about it. Not publicly, but privately. It is a frank, but necessary conversation. Everyone is accountable for his / her actions. When they do something wrong, they must know what it was so it doesn’t happen again.
So the employee knows that with care comes responsibility and accountability. As long as they know the rules and boundaries they are held to and that it is done fairly, they will trust you and hopefully give you their all.
As stated in trust, there is transparency. Each person knows the rules and their boundaries. If and when those are violated, they are told about it in detail.
And they are allowed to comment as well. There should always be a reason why actions were taken. You need to know why so if it makes sense, it can be factored into future thinking.
Stand by your employees
When employees know that you have their backs, they are willing to give their all. Well, most of them are, most of the time. There are always exceptions and they must be dealt with.
But, if they do not feel or are not supported by you, you will have uncertain and uncaring employees. That is for certain. So, your support is vital to them and what they will or won’t do for you and the company.
Caring about your people is not a one way street. It involves holding them to high standards.
While driving accountability for outcomes and results, also underscore your care and concern for them. Most people want that from their leaders.
Perhaps you’ve heard the adage, “I don’t care how much you know. I want to know how much you care.”
The benefits of taking care of your employees include:
- Increased productivity and innovation
- High workplace morale
- Job satisfaction
- A positive atmosphere
- Good customer service
- Loyal and dedicated staff
These are all things that we want from our employees and for our company to be noted for. They are all possible and probable if we manage and lead properly. And by doing so, we should remove the concern that we are not fully taking care of our employees as we should. And then we will have one less thing that will “Keep Us Awake at Night”.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter H. Christian was a founding partner and president of espi, a business consulting firm in Northeastern PA. Previously he was an Executive at Crayola Corporation. He has worked with 300+ clients in business development, profit improvement, operations, IS selection and implementation, and Project Management. He has 40+ years of experience in strategic and facility planning, CI, lean, and supply chain. He has helped companies to realize millions of dollars in cost reductions and profit improvements adding and retaining thousands of jobs. He has authored the Amazon bestselling business books, “What About the Vermin Problem?” and “Influences and Influencers” and is published in a variety of professional magazines.