Business professionals having meeting in modern workspace.
Zig Ziglar was once quoted as saying, “You don’t build a business — you build people — and then people build the business.” Despite the ego that a lot of founders carry into their businesses, that’s absolutely true.
When you put your people first by investing in them, you’re able to increase employee satisfaction, morale, and productivity. In turn, that will drastically boost your bottom line, reduce turnover, and improve your brand’s reputation — which may just help attract top talent in the future.
Simply put, it’s a win-win for both you and your people. But how do you know when it’s the right time to make an investment?
Employee engagement is less than desired.
According to Gallup’s “State of the Global Workforce” report, “13% of employees are engaged in their jobs, while 63% are not engaged and 24% are actively disengaged” across 142 different countries. That doesn’t exactly mean that engagement is an issue among your team. To know for certain, be on the lookout for signs of employee disengagement like absenteeism, a decline in work quality, a change in behavior, withdrawal, or a high turnover rate.
But any issue you notice begs another question: What investment should you make?
The most obvious choice is providing your teammates with professional development opportunities so they can excel in their current positions. Additionally, these new skills and insights can help them stay relevant in their field, as well as take on new projects. In fact, Bonusly’s 2019 Engagement and Modern Workplace Report noted that “91% of Highly Engaged employees are satisfied with their professional development opportunities compared to only 28% of Actively Disengaged employees.”
Other investments you may want to consider making to improve engagement could be coaching leadership, offering constructive feedback, recognizing employees’ contributions, and allowing for flexible work arrangements.
Change is on the horizon.
Change, as John Maxwell would say, is inevitable. This is definitely true if you want your business to edge out your competitors, adapt to changing consumer tastes, and thrive financially.
Change is most common when introducing a new product or service that requires your team to learn a new skill, venture into a new market, or meet new compliance requirements. Another instance is when your company has implemented a new strategy, changed an operation or process, or pivoted completely.
Again, what investment should you make?
Providing teammates with the proper training so they’re able to successfully adapt to the change is essential. If the change requires new tools or equipment, make sure your people have these items at their disposal. You should also invest in creating FAQ pages, Wikis, or instructional videos so your team can easily access them if they have questions. This saves you time while giving them the support they need.
But the best investment you can make here is transparency. Don’t leave your people in the dark. Let them know what’s going on and what they should expect moving forward.
Your team struggles with time management.
From personal experience across multiple companies, this is one of the most common struggles teams face. But it’s hardly discussed — the assumption seems to be that knowledgeable people know how to be efficient. The truth is that we all have competing demands and when your teammates can manage their time more effectively, they’ll be more productive, healthier, and happier.
The most common signs that a team member has a time management problem is that he’s constantly missing deadlines, arriving late to work or meetings, seeming to never leave the office, and not living up to his full potential.
What investment should you make here?
I’ve been a fan of personal time investment for years. That simply means prioritizing time with every one of your team members so you can ensure they’re working on the right goals, prioritizing their lists correctly, and not taking on more assignments than they can handle. Furthermore, you may want to evaluate just how effective your meetings are — are you discussing the issues that plague their everyday work, or are you just discussing the big picture?
Most importantly, invest in your teammates’ health and well-being. After all, if they’re stressed and facing burnout, how can they possibly be focused and energetic at work? Contemplate offering generous PTO, employee wellness programs, and healthy snacks. Each of these things can boost productivity when people have hit a wall.
Employees have become too complacent.
Obviously, you want your people to be comfortable, but you don’t want them to grow complacent. It’s not only costly, but it also shows that your team no longer wants to learn, grow, or achieve greatness — both personally and in the interests of your business.
What are the signs of an employee who’s gotten too comfortable? The most glaring is a tendency to only do the bare minimum. He doesn’t come in early, stay late, or go the extra mile. More red flags would be when an employee is no longer interested in new opportunities, isn’t questioning or contributing to ideas, or has an automatic reply that sounds similar to “Sorry, that’s not possible.”
In a tricky situation like this, what investment should you make?
You could again provide professional development opportunities and offer flexible work arrangements. This would also be a perfect time to schedule a one-on-one sit-down with the person to get to the root of the problem.
Another way to address this issue? Help him get out of his comfort zone. Assign him a new and challenging assignment. Empower him by having him take control of a project or meeting, like attending a conference and sharing the key takeaways with the rest of your people.
There’s a skill gap that needs to be filled.
Sometimes when a business is growing faster than expected, you need your existing team members to wear multiple hats until you have the resources to hire the right people for the job. Other times, your business may have changed direction, meaning your people have to learn a new skill if they want to remain a member of your team.
What investment should you make when skill sets need to pivot?
As always, you can’t go wrong with professional development opportunities. This could include in-house training, online courses, mentoring programs, or having your people attend workshops and industry events. The key here is to acknowledge that you’re asking them to make a big change and showing them that you’ll give them the resources they need to succeed.
Investing in your employees is the smartest business decision you can make. Often, it involves an actual financial commitment. But there are plenty of other times when investing in your team requires a time commitment on your end.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that you want to make sure your investment is sustainable. Invest in the people you want to grow your company with, and you’ll see the dividends — in both your relationships and your business.