Top tips for engaging with your workforce

There is a lot of positivity around business growth in 2014. With further increases in house prices predicted, employment rising month on month and an overall hope that the economy is finally getting back on track, 2014 could be the time to take real action to grow your business.

Staff are key to realising business growth plans. Here are some top tips on how to get the most out of your employees this year.

Involve your staff.

One of the easiest ways to get the most out of your staff is to include them in your plans for the business. Let them know what your aims and objectives are. It sounds simple, but so often this does not happen. How can we expect staff to work with us and drive the business forward if they don’t know where it’s going?

Think involvement, think communication - both are key to business success. Regular team meetings are an easy way to convey any important business messages and objectives, and they also allow employees to raise ideas and suggestions they may have, which may not come to light otherwise.

Make work challenging.

Think about it, if you were never faced with a challenge, would you be able to thrive in the workplace? It is well documented that setting individual goals for employees, for example targets for sales staff, helps them strive to achieve more. Similarly, a monthly competition can really bring out the competitive spirit and drive in those employees who may otherwise be fairly steady in their approach.

If not appropriate in the workplace itself, an out of office competition such as a sports match or quiz night may have a similar beneficial effect and help staff to bond. It’s well documented that staff that socialise together are more supportive of each other in the workplace.

Manage poor performance.

One negative or under-performing employee can have a severe impact on the rest of the team so if someone is not performing or is spreading negativity it is vital that you address this at the earliest opportunity. If this is left unchecked, what does it say about the management?

Is there a reason for poor performance or a negative attitude? Have you investigated and discussed this to try and resolve any issues? If discussion with the employee fails to have any impact, and you have tried to manage their behaviour by other means, you really should consider whether this person has a future in the business.

Most businesses cannot afford to have staff around who are not only under-performing themselves but have the potential to affect the performance of others. Make sure you know how to deal with this so you don’t expose yourself to a claim for unfair dismissal, or get help from someone who can advise you.

Golden rule – never issue a formal warning after an informal meeting.

Rewards.

Just as you need to manage negative behaviour and under-performance, rewarding the efforts of employees who go above and beyond what is expected of them goes a long way. Not only will the employee feel valued and appreciated, and therefore more likely to apply the same or more effort in the future, but it will also send out a signal to other employees that, should they try that bit harder, they will be recognised for it.

There are many ways to incentivise a workforce, without focusing solely on pay rises or bonuses. Never underestimate the impact of saying ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’.

Treat employees as individuals. Whilst you want to get the most out of your employees, remember that they also have their own career goals and aspirations.

The UK is diverse and multi-cultural, by embracing this we encourage the broad range of views it brings to our business. Make sure you have individual meetings/performance reviews. Training your line managers to carry out open, honest and effective performance reviews will be investment well made. You might be surprised at what you uncover! Better managers = more engaged staff = more profitable business.