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New year's resolution: Be a better employer

Jan 21, 2020 | 3 minutes read | Entrepreneurship

Managing employees is a difficult task. From offering a competitive benefits package to creating an open and welcoming workspace, it’s hard to consider any employer perfect. However, while it’s not easy, striving to become a better employer every day can provide significant rewards for small business owners.

That’s because labour costs are typically the most significant expense on a small business’s balance sheet, accounting for up to 70% of total budgets. More than two thirds of employees, however, are disengaged from their work, and unhappy workers are very costly. In fact, disengaged workers cost between $450 and $550 billion in lost productivity per year in the United States alone. According to research conducted by Gallup unsatisfied workers are absent more often, are more likely to steal from their employers, and they may drive customers towards competitors and negatively influence their coworkers.

Most small business owners understand that their company’s success is largely dependent on the people they employ. Here are a few ways you can become an even better employer in the New Year.

Offer greater work/life balance

The line between work and life has gotten a little less clear lately. Mobile technology has allowed work to follow most of us home, and employers have gotten more lenient when it comes to allowing staff to manage personal needs on company time.

As those lines continue to blur it’s important to ensure a strong balance is being struck. After all, if work is bleeding into personal time, employers need to offer their staff better ways to stay on top of their personal needs. That could mean a bring-your-pet-to-work policy, flexible working hours that better fit employees’ personal schedules, work from home options and more.

According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, more than half of employees want to work for a company that promotes a strong work/life balance. While it might come with a small cost in the form of company time, it will likely be paid back with interest in the form of employee engagement and productivity.

Offer a clear path towards career progression

Research by the Society for Human Resources Management has found that while career growth is one of the most important factors in determining employee satisfaction, few employers prioritize their staff’s training and professional development. In fact, according to Randstad, 73% of employers believe employee development is important, yet only 49% are doing anything about it.

Though it may seem minor on the surface, painting a clear picture of career progression is perhaps one of the most important and simplest ways to build employee trust and loyalty. This year, take the time to sit down with your employees, ask about their career ambitions and help put them on the right path towards accomplishing their goals. If you do, you’ll enjoy a much more loyal and engaged workforce in the new year.

Create a family-like setting

When you ask the most loyal and engaged small business employees what they love most about their jobs, many will describe it using words like “family” and “community.” While there are some important distinctions between how you should treat your real family and your work family, offering a heightened level of personal connection is what attracts many to the small business lifestyle.

Perhaps that’s why small business employees are, on average, more engaged than those who work for large organizations, even with dedicated HR teams. When you can count your employees using your fingers and toes it’s a lot easier to get to know each on a personal level. That more intimate knowledge allows you to take their personal needs and considerations into account in ways a team of dedicated HR professionals with all the latest software could only dream of.

Let your pet lovers bring their animals to work; let your sports fans watch part of the big game; let your working parents adjust their schedules to fit their children’s classes; encourage people to bring their loved ones in for lunch. Doing so will enable you to create that sense of family-like community that encourages small business employees to truly do their best work.

Time to get started

Striving to become a better employer in the year ahead will take an investment of time, energy and resources, but study after study shows that it can make a real difference in business outcomes. After all, happier employees provide better customer service, which can result in a 20% increase in sales, according to study by Gallup. Not only will providing a better environment for employees, improve morale and make the workplace more enjoyable overall, but it can have real and significant impact on your bottom line.

Looking for more ways to succeed in 2020 and beyond? Check out resolution #4.

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