When you have good employees, you want to keep them. But to do so, it helps to invest in some business process improvements.
"Business process improvements" is probably not the first thought anybody has when thinking of ways to increase employee satisfaction. You were probably thinking of offering a raise or updating the company break room. Those are good ideas and may well be overdue, but don't forget to tinker with the systems that help your company run. If getting a job done is harder than it needs to be, why shouldn't an employee look for somewhere better to work?
Losing an employee can be devastating to a business or organization, says Jody Holland,a business psychologist based out of Amarillo, Texas. He says that losing a single registered nurse results in the net-profit loss of approximately $72,000.
Looking at it that way, it's very important to keep your employees happy.
“In my work with dozens of hospital groups around the country, it has been critical to create a happier workforce," Holland says. "Happier employees equals higher profits."
If you or your managers aren't occasionally looking for areas in your company where business process improvements can be made, you could argue that your employees are doing their job, but you aren't doing yours.
So let's get to work! You can start by investigating these tactics:
1. Change who your employees work with.
Ma is the owner of Flushing NY Realty in Flushing, New York and runs a Flushing community nonprofit website. In the past, when a new agent joined his brokerage, which currently has 13 employees, they were assigned a team consisting of two to four people.
“That was their team through their affiliation with our agency," he says.
But about 15 months ago, his company implemented a bi-monthly team mix up, where every two months, realtors are constantly working with new people.
“This fluid organizational structure has worked out much better to promote sales collaboration among our agents," Ma says. “Our sales goals have not only increased but agents have expressed that they much prefer the new team structures. Agents have the opportunity to work with everyone in the organization, and they get to see a variety of approaches to being a real estate agent."
Mixing up teams may not work for every company. But with this arrangement, you never stay too complacent. It keeps things interesting. Sometimes, you need to shake things up.
2. Increase your employees' training as a part of your business process improvements.
Training your employees to do their jobs better can help them feel less frustrated, more competent and, perhaps ultimately, happier.
Nobody enjoys working in a job they feel ill-equipped to handle. One area that can particularly help is in leadership training, says Holland.
“Leadership is the ability of a person to create a vision that inspires others to reach beyond their current skill level and to believe in themselves at a deeper level. Great leaders cast a vision, create engagement and manage the execution and outcome of a team," Holland says.
The best business process improvements don't involve the eyes or ears but utilizing another body part—the heart.
And while you might think that training your leaders will only make the leaders happy, think about all the times you've had a bad boss or manager who has made your job or life miserable. (And if you've never experienced that, consider yourself very lucky.)
Training your leaders on how to be better can have a ripple effect on how your other team members feel.
3. Create a way for your employees to experiment.
Alex Levin is a founding partner with L+R, an innovation consultancy and design studio in Brooklyn, New York. One of their business process improvements was building a internal research and development budget to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration between team members to build and launch products. (His company has 15 employees scattered over four offices in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Barcelona and Milan.)
Levin declined to share how much the budget is, but it has been used to buy electronic components and software licenses, to attend courses and conferences and to pay for training to get certificates, among other things.
His employees have created quite a few apps as a result.
“So far three have gone to market and one is actually generating income for the business as well," he says. “A few more are in the works to be launched as well."
But the main thing, Levin says, is that his employees feel “respected" and know that their company supports and invests in them actively.
4. Put a formal structure in place, so you can listen to your employees.
Business owners and experts will tell you that accepting feedback is one of the best ways to make employees happier. Sure, everybody loves to be well-compensated, and working for people who are good leaders and non-toxic helps a lot. But having your voice heard can be even better than receiving little perks.
Yaniv Masjedi, the chief marketing officer at business management software firm Nextiva, headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, says he and his colleagues learned this the hard way.
“When we first started Nextiva, everyone was putting in long hours—a typical startup story. To take the edge off our hunger, we provided snacks. Again, pretty standard."
Masjedi says that the company providing snacks got built into the company culture.
“It grew to the point where re-filling various departments' snack bowls was almost one person's full-time job," he says.
Except that it wasn't anybody's job, and one day someone left a nasty note when a snack jar was left empty.
“We had a problem, and it wasn't petty; this culture of expecting snack handouts had turned toxic," Masjedi says.
The company stopped the practice, but instead began conducting routine 20-minute one-on-one interviews with every employee to get their feedback on both their work and the company culture as a whole. Now it's a regular thing, these feedback sessions, which is saying something, when you employ over 1,000 people. Still, it's worth the time taken.
“We never again want the work experience to boil down to simply whether or not we offer unlimited candy," Masjedi says.
People like being treated like people and not cogs in a machine, and employers may want to look for problems and do a lot of listening. At the risk of getting sappy, the best business process improvements don't involve the eyes or ears but utilizing another body part—the heart.
Read more articles on employee retention.
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