If your company is just starting out and you’ve just got a handful of team members, you’re in a better position than ever to connect with your team in a way that is meaningful and long-lasting. And it’s more important than ever before. Now is the time to start thinking about what you can do to turn a “job” into an “awesome career experience” that your team will fight to protect. It’s easier than you think!
1. Give Them Time to Learn
Invest in your employees’ continuing education. By invest, I mean, spend some money on it. Not everyone will take you up on the opportunity to get advanced degrees, certification, or just take some courses (that YOU offer) to help them improve skills, but this is a great way to figure out if you have motivated people working for you or not. It shows that you are willing to put some skin in their game, as they are already putting tons of skin in yours.
2. Give Them Honest Feedback
Regularly. This means not waiting until the end of the year to tell them you wish they would put in more hours, more enthusiasm, different this, or better that. Feedback is a critical component of great performance, and team members deserve it. Constant, transparent feedback is key to employee engagement.
3. Give Them Stuff We All Get (SWAG)
Who knew? SWAG like corporate apparel, pens, backpacks, and mugs from http://www.qualitylogoproducts.com/corporate-apparel.htm are still cool these days. If you’re trying to cut costs, cut costs from travel (by using virtual offices) and office supplies (dude, you don’t need to print everything). Don’t cut costs from things that make people feel special. Even if you have a few Grinches who hate that kind of thing, it’s a small, great way to say thank you. Let the Grinches give the SWAG to their kids and get over it.
4. Give Them a Voice
A survey is not the equivalent of giving your employee a voice unless you actually do something with the feedback. Find a way to actually give your team a say in what they do, how you spend your money, how you treat your customers, and where your company is going. Require yourself and your managers to ask the uncomfortable questions, like “What could I do better?” “What makes sense, and what doesn’t make sense about this?”
5. Give Them Flexibility
Not surprisingly, employees are happier when they have flexible work options. If your team members get to choose a schedule that makes sense for them, perhaps they will be less likely to take issue with it or complain.
6. Give Them Face Time
This is important for companies and teams large and small. Face time means literally giving your employees some time with you – and your face – either by video conference or in person meeting. No matter how high up you are, people who choose to work to further your business deserve the chance to speak with you and connect. Pre-recorded videos are okay, but live, in person meetings are better. Even if you run a massive company with employees all over the world, carve time out of your schedule to go and visit those sites, shake hands, listen to stories, and show that you are indeed a real person.
And if you are a jet-setting leader of a new startup with funding, never forget that team lunches and happy hours are great ways to take the pulse of employee engagement. Is everyone happy? Do they love what they do? Don’t rely on surveys to discover this. Find out yourself, face to face.
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