Invest in your staff… but what if they don’t stay?

By Zaki Ameer

DUBAI 19 March 2018: A CFO asks the CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and they leave us?” The CEO replies, “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”

The most effective management practices aren’t incidental, they are tied directly to your company’s values. Most leaders can agree that employee development is a critical part of creating a lasting business. However, many leaders assume that they can put the onus on the individual to provide their own path to personal and professional development.

After all, your job is to grow the company. Self-enrichment is up to them, right? The fact is, if you’re not investing in your people, you’re not investing in the future of your business.

Investing in your team is an important part of creating an engaged workforce and an effective way of reducing turnover for your business. Once an entrepreneur and now a successful businessman, my goal is to help other CEO’s find ways to invest in their teams and create an amazing culture that employees never want to leave.

Invest in Happiness

It is important to understand that an investment in your team can range from personal development to financial incentives, to activities that bring ‘happiness’. The ultimate aim is that you need to show genuine care towards your employees, and in return, they will take care of your business.

Firstly, you must invest in their personal and professional development. Typically you will see a positive correlation between personal and professional progress. To be clear, the person I am talking about is someone who is making real growth as a professional, and making increasingly better contributions to the success of the business. This shouldn’t be confused with the workaholic type who appears to be doing well at work, but who may only be working harder than he or she has to, and whose health and wellbeing may actually be suffering as a result.

Often business owners worry that if they invest too much in developing their team, then those employees will become more valuable in the marketplace and potentially move on to other companies. Ironically, this fear leads to a strategy that does more harm than good, and virtually guarantees the very outcome they were trying to avoid. The reality is, many people feel disconnected and disengaged at work, and a big part of that is due to a lack of challenges and development. When workers feel like they’re stagnating or heading towards a dead-end, your employees will undoubtedly look for employment opportunities elsewhere.

Individual Development Plan

So, how can you invest in your team’s personal and professional development and ensure this doesn’t happen? One example to consider is something called an Individual Development Plan (IDP). An IDP is a fantastic tool to help employees set and reach both short- and long-term goals. IDPs empower individuals to ask themselves, “Where am I now, where do I want to be, and how will I get there?” To really get the most out of each IDP, managers and their direct reports need to conduct some type of monthly check-in. If you aren’t helping your employees consistently track against their goals, then they won’t make any real progress.

Another great strategy is to subsidize employee growth via books, conferences, and courses that are related to personal or professional development within your businesses scope of work. This will of course only benefit your organization in the long run.

Hosting team building activities is another great way to invest in your workforce. Gallup found that close friendships at work boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are 7x more likely to engage fully in their work. While you obviously can’t force friendships in the workplace, there are ways you can foster it. Doing a yearly team offsite. Offsites give your team a chance to step away from the day-to-day work and build camaraderie.

Team Play

Give your team an opportunity to have some “play in the game” For example incentivize your employees to take ownership of a certain task or project. Assume that the job will be done better and faster if you offer some type of incentive, such as commission or bonus based monetary opportunities on the achievement of the goal set. As Dan Pink argues in his best-selling book Drive, autonomy is 1 of 3 major human motivators. Offering commissions gives employee a sense of ownership in their outcomes, and is an excellent way to help them grow and take responsibility for their own and the company’s success.

If you’re growing your business with plans to eventually sell, consider offering an employee stock option program (ESOP). This is another great way to give your employees a real sense of ownership in the business. As the business grows, so do your employees.

Create a healthier work environment. Researchers from Harvard found that medical costs decrease by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs. In addition, absenteeism costs are reduced by about $2.73 for every dollar spent on wellness. When you also consider that 87% of employees consider health and wellness offerings when they choose an employer, it’s obvious that focusing on health at work is important to both the employee and employer.

Recognition Programme

Create weekly recognition events and monthly achievement awards, to make sure your employees feel appreciated at work. While praise and recognition aren’t the only things that motivate employees, being recognized for hard work goes a long way. To really succeed in creating an environment where employees consistently feel appreciated, I suggest integrating it into weekly and monthly activities.

Celebrate employees anniversary with something personal. Staying on the theme of appreciation for a second, it’s so important to celebrate and appreciate your people on their work anniversaries. A study conducted by Entelo found that people are most likely to leave their jobs after their first, second, and third year at a company. Given this data, it’s crucial that employers make people feel awesome on their work anniversaries to help combat the yearly spike in voluntary turnover.

Allow your talented team members to move laterally within the business. Often times, you’ll hire a younger employee who is still figuring out which career path they want to pursue. They may be driven and motivated, but their passion may lie in another area of your business than the one hired for. Promote from within and help that person make the transition into a new department. When they focus on their passions and interest, your employees will be a lot more likely to be engaged and do a better job for your business. This will help you retain some of your younger talent when they would have otherwise abandoned ship.

Perks & Benefits

Offer the perks and benefits that matter to them. When it comes to perks and benefits for your employees, there is no magic bullet. In order for your perks to be effective in keeping your employees happy, they need to be tailored to their specific needs and desires. For example, if your team works around the clock and regularly puts in overtime, a perk like tickets to a concert or a spa trip would be a lovely reward. Another perk that most employees can rally around is free food. A survey conducted by Peapod found that 67% of full-time employees with access to free food at work reported being “very” or “extremely” happy at their current job.

Give them time to volunteer during work hours. Today’s workers (especially Millennials) want to work for companies that benefit the greater good, so it’s vital that your company has some sort of social tie. Even if your product doesn’t directly give back, there are ways you can help your employees feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Show your commitment to community and social responsibility by giving your employees a couple of hours each month to get out of the office and participate in community service.

Investing in your employees is not only great for the individual, it’s also beneficial for your company. You don’t have to spend lavishly either. Many of the ideas mentioned won’t cost you very much to get started. But, more importantly, they will make a difference in the lives of your employees, and that’s something that will help create loyalty to your business.

Note: Zaki Ameer is CEO and Found of Dream Design Real Estate