All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions
A happy employee is a productive employee. You need to instil faith and make them feel valued. To keep your staff motivated, you must be able to give them straight answers to these three questions:
- What is the plan and how does this company work?
- Where are the tools, and how is this plan meant to happen?
- How are the tools best used?
Show your team that you care
Here are some proven strategies to making employees feel that they matter:
- Recognise individuals. Let them know that they can make a difference.
- Be responsive. Do not ask for feedback or suggestions and then simply ignore them.
- Tap your top performers as teachers. Encourage your best staff to share expertise through training or mentoring.
- Help them to reach their dreams and goals. If you want them to invest in your success, you need to invest in theirs.
- Create an atmosphere of trust. Do not spring things on staff without explaining why you are doing it.
- Don't be a "super-owner". Ask for input to solve problems or develop strategy. You will end up with happier staff - and loads of new ideas.
Get the most out of teleworkers
Many small businesses use staff or contract workers who work away from the office. Studies have shown that this can cut expenses by as much as 40%, reducing your fixed costs such as office space, furniture and fixtures, utility bills and office consumables.
However, keep in mind that teleworkers pose a different set of management challenges to normal office staff. Here's how to get the most out of them:
- Explain the mission and job: Create a written agreement to explain your expectations, how the work will be evaluated, what defines success, and when and how reviews will occur.
- Review policies and benefits beforehand: Make sure these are in line with the BCEA. Hiring a freelancer to avoid employment laws and regulations could open you up to legal action.
- Stay in touch: Besides regular phone calls, bring teleworkers into the office for periodic updates and to maintain ties with the rest of the staff. Make sure they have the same access to HR systems, benefits and policies as on-site employees.
- Understand who works for whom: If you use an agency to find contract workers, make sure that everyone understands that the agency is responsible for issues such as salary payment. Discuss problems with the agency before you address the employee.
- Measure productivity, not activity: The lack of face-to-face contact makes it harder for teleworkers to prove themselves. Create clear performance benchmarks.
Top 10 HR mistakes
- Lack of policies and procedures. Employees need to feel they are being treated fairly and consistently.
- Misunderstanding probationary periods. If an employee is going to fail it should not be a surprise.
- No job description. People need a clear expectation of what they should be doing.
- No contracts. Legally, all employees must receive written terms and conditions of employment.
- No performance feedback. Motivated employees need to know the goals of the business, your expectations for their performance, and if they are meeting them.
- Avoiding conflict. A small problem could become a major issue later.
- Using contract workers to circumvent legislation. This may result in problems if an employee has a reasonable expectation that his/her contract will be renewed.
- Management attitude. You are all on the same team, working for the good of the business.
- Lack of communication. Share ideas, inform your employees and build trust.
- Unrealistic expectations. People don't learn by doing things perfectly the first time.