One of the most important tasks of small business owners, managers and operators is motivating employees. We all know employee turnover costs money, and more importantly, time. Yet many small businesses still have high turnover rates.
The most common reason is that small businesses cannot afford to keep employees by paying higher wages and bonuses. But when it costs nearly $2,000 to hire and train a new employee, you cannot afford to accept turnover as a fact of life. Clearly, the more you can motivate people to stay with you, the more money you will save.
In this post I am proposing 6 ways you can use self-directed employee programs to improve workplace culture and performance. This is a powerful tool that allows you to keep your people longer and reduce the expensive and annoying turnover for good.
Benefits of a Self-directed Employee Program
What are the potential benefits? On the one hand, a happy and engaged workforce directly leads to higher customer satisfaction, loyalty and ultimately, more sales. On the other hand, this tactic can help significantly improve staff retention and lower hiring costs (which can top $2,000 per employee) when you do need to hire. Sounds like a win-win to me.
What is the cost to implement? With our system, this program requires minimal set-up time of 1-2 hours and takes between 2 hour per month in effort, with no upfront or ongoing costs. This amounts to 24 hours a year, and a cost of $1,200 per annum assuming you have a $50 per hour rate. It’s important to keep even these soft costs in mind.
Which businesses is it for? This is for all small businesses across all industries that require a physical workforce to make and deliver their product or service to customers.
How to Implement a Self-directed Employee Program
A self-directed employee program is about setting up small teams who become responsible for certain employee-based tasks. It’s really about taking the power and handing it to employees to encourage and reward each other. Here are 6 different teams you can set up to put employee recognition on autopilot.
Create a Recognition Team
Like a social committee that organizes the annual holidays party, spin up a team that is responsible for making sure that good performance is noticed and rewarded by being recognised by other employees.
Whether that means handing out a "thank-you" or throwing a surprise anniversary party for a long-time employee, create a team responsible for recognition. All you then have to do is spend some time making sure they don’t let any team members slip through the cracks.
Form a Team-Building Event Committee
As references above, you probably already have a team responsible for organizing birthday cakes and the Christmas party. Simply expand their mandate to include team-building exercises that bring all the employees in your business together to bond. This might be an offsite where the team does an activity together like paintball or an adventure course. They’ll just need a budget and some autonomy and the right team will make it happen.
Launch a Team for On-the-Job Contests
A team to run contests can motivate employees on a very tight budget because the real reward of each contest is the fun and challenge of playing and the pride of winning. That means using low-cost incentives like challenges that everyone can participate in. For example, form teams and run a step challenge, the individual or team with the most daily steps wins. Encourage the team to run a new activity as often as possible.
Consider Using a Scheduling Team
Managers often spend a lot of time creating staff schedules that undergo dramatic changes during the week anyway. Scheduling can instead be handled by a team. You’ll need to set guidelines and guardrails but after staff requirements are determined, a scheduling team can work with other employees and amongst themselves to fill in the blanks and handle scheduling.
Start a Business Development Community
The task of the Business Development Community is to go outside of the business to impress past customers and potential new ones. Give them a small budget and allow them to visit customers, pick up the bill and impress them. Beyond your products and services you must have people working on keeping customers loyal and happy outside those interactions as well, pushing the envelope from the other direction.
Apply the Principle to Other Teams
Based on your business and industry you can consider teams for a whole range of activities and goals. For example, maintaining the appearance of your premises, hiring new staff members and doing other critical tasks. Working together for a common purpose increases motivation because it makes their jobs far more interesting and fun.
Key Takeaway for Small Businesses
Happy employees mean happy customers. It also means employees who enjoy working together, and will hang around for longer.
As a small business owner, manager or operator your measure of success is reduced turnover while at the same time productivity and customer satisfaction are increasing. Build dedicated teams responsible for creating a defined and positive team culture and you’ll take giant steps towards this goal.
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