This year hasn’t been easy for anyone. Many businesses have closed, some have reduced their workforces, some have pushed their employees to work long hours from home. Regardless of your current position, you have to make efforts to keep the lifeblood of your business, your staff, engaged to keep turnover from becoming a major problem. This month, we thought we would look at the current situation and give a couple of examples of how you can keep from alienating your employees.
Firstly, business owners and decision makers must do what’s right for their business, that much is typically understood by most people. The problem is that in lean times, the first cuts are made to payroll, as it can free up large chunks of capital that otherwise wouldn’t be there. Everyone that works for someone has to know that when times get tough that they could lose their job. On the other hand, no employer wants to furlough or lay off anyone. People are hired to handle the workload, if they are let go, other people will have to pick up the slack. The more a business tries to do with less, the less things they’ll do well.
Secondly, most businesses have some very dedicated staff, so letting people go isn’t only difficult, it’s heartbreaking. This holds especially true for the small business. If you only have a handful of workers, and you are forced to make the unenviable decision to lay some off, it can have a major negative effect on company morale.
Lastly, it’s been proven that turnover in human resources costs businesses a lot of money. A study undertaken by the Society for Human Resources found that the average cost to hire a new employee is a whopping $4,129. Not only that, it takes an average of 42 days to fill the position. Other organizations find similar costs, but some find it to be substantially more expensive. It stands to reason that if someone is to be let go, they may not be able to make ends meet on the employment insurance alone and will need to start to look for a job elsewhere almost immediately.
The State of Employment
With so much uncertainty in the current economy, it’s hard for businesses to properly forecast how the next 12-to-18 months will go. After all, businesses are dying by the thousands, up nearly five percent over 2019. One thing is certain, every business owner will need to be flexible to keep business moving forward. They will need to scale their business to demand, and unfortunately, that pragmatism can make some jobs dispensable.
For others who are still working, but doing so from their own homes, things are a little more optimistic. By-in-large employees that can do their job from home are happier and more productive than if they are forced to go into an office. Remote work does have its drawbacks, but compared with their neighbors who have lost work because their company shuttered their doors, being asked to be productive while working from home is a godsend.
What Can You Do to Engage Your Employees?
It has become evident that businesses of all sizes, despite what the reality suggests, need to engage with their employees to give them both the peace of mind they need and to keep them productive as they navigate their remote workplace. Here are a few.
- Set Expectations Up Front - Nothing is worse for an employee’s morale than thinking they did a job proficiently only to find out that they didn’t hit the mark at all. This typically comes from not having clear paths of communication. It’s important to set your expectations for everything up front. One way to do this is to make a remote work playbook. This can help every employee know exactly what is expected of them.
- Regular Virtual Meetings - Whether you decide to have collaboration meetings or simple virtual coffee breaks, managers should be actively engaging with their teams to ensure that people are on the same page and that everyone is doing okay. Working from home for long stretches of time, especially for people who rely on their work for their social outlet, can be pretty isolating. Having simple chats can go a long way toward keeping an employee who otherwise wouldn’t be engaged in his or her work.
- Knowledge Sharing - Most people are pretty busy with their work that they don’t have a lot of time to waste with idle chit chat. Who says it has to be idle? One really neat idea is to have different chat groups that meet once or twice a week for a defined period of time and discuss one topic. It could be work related or it could be about video games or WWII or riding horses, or any other topic that interests multiple people. This is a great way to have employees engage each other, while also getting away from their weekly grind for a short period of time.
- Employee Recognition - Most employees want to be recognized for their good work. The funny thing, it may not seem like it’s a major incentive, but it is, and you’ll likely find that workers that aren’t recognized hold it against their employer. Additionally, businesses that pass praise around see a lot higher percentages of employee retention. People want to feel good at work, and by taking some time out and recognizing your team’s successes you can avoid alienating employees that are already working remotely.
If your business could benefit from a conversation with one of our consultants, give us a call at (847) 803-0044. We can help you with any remote technology issue you may have.