Speak to any business owner and they will tell you that finding and retaining good people is one of their biggest headaches. You will very often hear SME businesses owners remark “I am not Google, I can’t compete with the likes of them for good people!” When they say this, usually what they mean is I can’t offer the sorts of salaries or perks companies like Google and Facebook can offer.
While it might be true that you cannot offer salaries and perks similar to what Google and the likes offer, it is also true, that you don’t have to. Those things are important, but they are not what are most important to most people.
Until not too long ago my husband, who is an IT Security Consultant, worked in the City for a major IT Security Company with headquarters in the US and offices in various countries around the world, supporting email security for thousands of companies globally. The pay was great, perks were fantastic including discounted company shares on joining the company, a generous pension scheme, amazing recreational facilities and hospitality in the office, which included pool tables, game consoles, chill out areas with sleeping bags, free beverages including wine and beers and when he went to their US office for a week, they even had chefs coming into the office to prepare lunch for staff!
Unfortunately however after only 8 months, my husband put in his resignation because he could no longer take the abuse, rudeness, incompetence and very poor management of his manager. The company clearly wanted to do well by their people, but they were let down by one person, who, fairly or unfairly his team members see as the face of the company. It is true what they say after all, people don’t leave companies, people leave people.
Not too long ago, hundreds of Facebook employees, in rare public criticism of their own company, protested against their executives’ decision not to do anything about recent inflammatory posts made by President Trump on their social media platform in response to the protests by demonstrators across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s recent killing. In support for demonstrators across the country, Facebook employees refused to work adding an automated message to their digital profiles and email responses saying that they were out of the office in a show of protest. Some wrote publicly about their unhappiness on other social media platforms and yet others threatened to resign. The unrest has been described as the most serious challenge to the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, since the company was founded 15 years ago.
What all this tells us is that people are placing their values and what is really important to them ahead of financial and material gain. As an organisation, you cannot continue with same old, same old and expect to attract and retain the high calibre people your organisation needs in order to strongly position itself in the market place.
Perks are great, but that’s not what makes you a great Company and it won’t help you retain good people. If you are an SME owner, the good news is you don’t have to be Google or the likes to attract and retain good staff. People want to work for great companies. People want to do business with businesses that care. Care for the environment, care for the communities to which they belong and care for their people. Here are five simple things you can start to do to show your people you care.
- Listen to Them
People won’t listen unless they feel they have been listened to. Don’t just hear them with your ears, but truly listen with your ears and with your heart. If you do, you will hear more than what is verbalised. Don’t just listen to respond, but listen to understand. Good leaders ask great questions. Ask your people questions and then really listen to hear and understand what they say in response
- Truly Value Them
If you don’t truly value people, no matter what you say and do, it will show. Yes you pay them to do what they do but there is no amount of money you can pay to buy loyalty. You don’t want them to do just enough not to get fired. If you want a team that is prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty, then you have to truly value them. It is not enough to simply pay lip service to the notion. Everybody wants to Feel valued, so don’t just say it, show it. Appreciate them when they do well, encourage them when they miss the mark, show faith in them by believing in them before they prove themselves.
- Respect Them
Every human being craves and deserves respect, just for the mere fact that they are human beings. You can correct, chastise and even discipline someone without making them feel like they are trash. Mind your language, watch your tone. It does not matter that you are the business owner and they are the cleaner. Follow the golden rule and treat others the way you would want to be treated.
- Invest in Them
There is no better way to show you care and value someone than by investing in them. We don’t go around investing in trash, so when you invest in someone, it shows you recognise they are of worth. You recognise they have potential and you care enough about them to want to see them realise their potential. There is nothing as frustrating both for the employee and employer when the employee is put in a role they have not been equipped to handle and yet we see it time and time again. The fact that someone if your best sales person does not mean he will automatically make a great sales manager. The skills required to be a great sales person are different to the skills required to properly manage people. Invest in your personal development and that of your people. They are your greatest asset.
- Invest in your Community
It is not enough in today’s world to think of the bottom line only in terms of profit. People are the bottom line and thank goodness more and more companies are beginning to understand this and lead their organisations on the basis of this underlying principle. As a business, no matter your size, you must take corporate social responsibility seriously. As a sole practitioner running my law firm, I would dedicate an afternoon every three months to give free advice in my local Citizens Advise Bureau. Every year we raised thousands of pounds for charities like Will Aid, Heart of Kent Hospice, Stroke Association and National Free Wills Network by preparing free or heavily discounted Wills for clients in return for a donation to charity. We all have a part to play in making our world a safer and better place. Find out the needs in your community and how you can help. Get your employees involved and you will be amazed at the positive difference it will make to staff engagement in your company.
Mary Eniolu; Trainer, Speaker, Coach
Mary is a solicitor and professional speaker, trainer and coach. She is founder of Can Do Academy, a personal growth and leadership development company offering bespoke ILM approved training and coaching solutions to individuals and business helping them increase performance and achieve desired outcomes.