Do you really take care of your staff? It’s easy to talk about, harder to do.
Being a small business owner I’ve always tried my hardest to take good care of my staff, but what I’ve realised over the years is that this means different things to different people. Regardless of what it actually means, there are many benefits to any business that truly has the emotional, physical and financial well-being being of their staff as major priorities.
For starters, we get to develop a reputation as a business that does actually care about their people, in a time when this line is often met with a degree of cynicism. It makes us feel better knowing that we are doing the right thing by our people, which is, of course, means peace of mind. Our employees feel extra confident at work and outside of work when they are taught skills, like first aid training and resuscitation. And as a team, we all feel better knowing that we actually care about each other.
We know the benefits, how do we go about actually doing it? From the businesses that I’ve worked with who are really very good at taking care of their people, I’ve observed five key areas to focus on:
1. Take care of their emotional well-being
Running a small business can be like having a tiger by the tail, it’s never obvious who is driving who. There can be a lot of stress, working long hours and high expectation on our staff. Not everyone has the same capacity to deal with this, and as business owners we need to be very aware of the emotional health of our people, encouraging them to speak up if they feel overloaded and overwhelmed.
This is a topic that has really just started to get the attention it deserves, suicide or depression have touched most of us and a host of other issues that often stem from issues around emotional well-being. We need to be able to have mature, confidential discussions with our staff about this topic and that means creating the right kind of environment where people can speak up.
2. Make them feel secure in their job
We all like to feel secure in life, especially financially secure. It’s important that our staff feel secure and know that even though all businesses face the vagrancies of the modern world, knowing that the business owners are doing their best to keep everyone in a job means a great deal. This sense of people doing their best, for greater good really is an example of actions speaking louder than words.
3. Ensure that they are safe
It seems pretty obvious to say that we need to provide a safe working environment for our staff, but what does that mean? Sure, we don’t want any obvious hazards to contend with, but it’s also about knowledge. Is everyone trained in first aid? When they are, the office feels more confident and safe, secure in the fact that the people within can manage any situation that comes their way. We know our workmates have our back and that feels very good.
4. Give them room to grow
We need to make sure we provide a workplace where individuals can grow both personally and professionally. This means trusting them, giving them responsibility, encouraging them and helping them to develop new skills, reward and acknowledge them and so on. We also have to let them make mistakes. Part of growing is clearly learning from our mistakes and if we don’t let our people make mistakes,
5. Provide a social environment
This means making sure that we encourage a positive social environment for our team. It can’t all be about work, and time standing around chatting is not a waste of time (generally). It creates a better working environment where people feel safe enough to have fun with their co-workers. Sharing experiences is also a great idea in here, even doing things like First Aid Training as a group, not only provides learnings and skill transfer, it’s a shared experience that builds a better social environment as team members get to know each other better. They also get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and that’s a good thing as well.
So when it comes to taking care of our people, if we make a point of addressing each of these areas, our people will feel valued, cared for and secure and that is good for everyone.