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Investing in Your Employees

Your business is thriving and your team of entrepreneurs is firing on all cylinders. Now, how do you invest in employees’ talents and reward their successes to boost their personal satisfaction (as well as your company’s performance)? Some business owners hesitate to invest in their people, worried that their investment will walk out the door when better offers come along. While that is a valid concern, not investing in employees isn’t the answer. You need to find ways to keep your employees engaged while nurturing their talents. Employee appreciation gifts such as photo calendars with their families, extra vacation time, recognizing them on social media, and many other non-monetary activities can be a good driver of employee engagement and motivation.

Investing in Your Employees

Investing in your employees is an ongoing process. There is no quick fix to making them feel valued, and you won’t see a return overnight. But if you take your time and follow these suggestions, you will nurture an environment of personal growth and reap the rewards for your efforts in the long run.

Support thought leaders and personal branding

Encourage employees to pursue thought leadership opportunities such as writing articles or books, or speaking at conventions. When employees shine, they develop positive reputations among peers—as does the company that supports them. Encourage employees to keep their LinkedIn and other social media accounts up-to-date with links to their work and accomplishments to increase their personal web presence. Consider thought leadership and personal branding as knocking out two problems with one solution—your employees will feel like they’re making a real difference, and your company will receive positive recognition in your industry, which will increase the company’s online traffic.

Provide outside-the-box benefits

Gone are the days when employees view dry-cleaning pickup and in-office ping pong tables as benefits. Host events in fun environments that employees will learn from and brag about to their friends—likely their friends will want to work for you too. Or pay for employees to attend a course, seminar, or conference regularly. Give parameters but remain open-minded. If someone on your creative team wants to take a creative writing course, sign off on it. The course will nurture talents outside of the workplace and make the employee feel more connected in the office. A Gallup report found that 87 percent of millennials rate “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important to them in a job—and 69 percent of non-millennials agree.

Create one-on-one time

Small business owners have the unique ability to engage personally with each employee. Most executives of larger firms can’t say the same. Make time regularly for each employee—be it over breakfast, lunch, or coffee—and ask open-ended questions about career goals and their ideas for improving the business. You hired them, so you already know they’re talented. Listening attentively helps you understand even more about your employees, including what motivates them. This kind of one-on-one interaction communicates that you value and respect employees and consider them integral to the company’s success.

Follow the formula above and you’ll experience some impressive results:

  • Improved morale. Your team will be excited about work, and the office will be buzzing with productivity.
  • Better retention. Your employees will stay at your company because they want to be there and feel like they’re benefiting personally.
  • Strengthened loyalty. Employees don’t perform well unless they feel like they’re working in a safe and supportive environment. Help them by supporting their individual professional goals, and they’ll be more engaged in your organization.
  • Interest from even more competitive candidates. Land on one of the media’s “top places to work” lists and top-tier applicants will likely bombard you, which will provide you with even more opportunities to raise your business to new heights.

Most investments are a gamble, but investing in your employees is a sure bet!

Jason Wells is a professional writer and occasional contributor to various business and technology blogs.

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