While all parts of an organisation are worth reviewing to improve your business, your people really are your key asset. It’s a competitive market for talent across many sectors and that will not be changing any time soon, so it is absolutely critical to engage with your workforce and make sure they have what they need to be productive, stay motivated and employed with your organisation. Getting the most from your staff is an important route to improving the overall efficiency of your business and will give you the edge with your staff retention too.

Here’s our top tips for getting the best from your people.

  1. Communicate, regularly

Does your business have regular communication mechanisms in place so that everyone in the business has an opportunity to find out what is going on? If yes, is it month by month, quarterly and/or annually? Do you regularly share successes as well as update on the clear goals, as well as challenges, for the business too? Sharing and communicating all this information ensures your people feel connected and a valid and valuable part of the business. They can see also where their role fits into achieving the business goals. Last, but by no means least, by recognising people’s achievements and sharing those with the rest of the company, your staff get that ‘feel good’ factor of being thanked and rewarded for a job well done.

  1. Set goals and measure them

As already mentioned, people like to know where they fit into the grand scheme of things. By setting individual goals each one can clearly see how their work and effort can positively impact the growth of the business and ensures they will prioritise their activities and focus their efforts.

Make sure the goals you set are SMART ones (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistically high, Time and resource bound). To really get buy-in from your people, they also need to be meaningful and have sufficient rewards for achievement as well as clear consequences for failure.

It doesn’t stop at setting goals, there needs to be a plan in place to achieve them too! Without this, no goal is real and is unlikely to happen, so consider timescales, project milestones and a deadline wherever relevant to do so. This will create the right level of momentum to manage everyone’s expectations and ensure goals are achieved.

  1. Allow them freedom

To empower your people there are three key elements to consider. Firstly, ensure they have the necessary training to achieve their goals. Secondly, you need to motivate them so there should be clear communication on what that involves. Finally, any issues or roadblocks that are within the company’s control should be removed or sorted. Yes, there are reasons for some measures but keeping to the old “that is the way things have always been done” can be incredibly frustrating for many people and can lead to negativity if not addressed.

If you’ve made good recruitment choices then people deserve to be trusted. With legislation allowing for flexible working and the growing culture of the Gig Economy, there is now a whole generation that look at delivering their work in a different way (and a different place!) to the traditional 9 to 5 role of old. If your business does have a requirement for everyone to work onsite then at least avoid micro-managing people and be flexible with start/finish times – clock watching again is kind of old hat with the ‘always on’ culture that digital tech and smartphones have made commonplace. Obviously if it is apparent that individuals aren’t delivering what is required and not putting in the hours – that’s a different scenario altogether.

Lastly, have effective planning in place to ensure that staff are employed in the right jobs within your business. Identify any gaps and provide training to fill these. Work with individuals to transition them into another more suitable role, or be flexible and expand their remit so their role becomes one where they can fully use their best skills and experience.

  1. Train your managers

Make sure your supervisors, team leaders and managers have sufficient training, knowledge and support to actively encourage staff to achieve better results. Not everyone is a natural line manager, it requires a diverse set of soft skills to be a successful one – not just a promotion!

One key area where training can assist is communication styles – those who manage staff and are able to adapt their communication styles to suit each member of their team will have the most productive relationships. Ensure they have the right tools. Find out more about communication styles.

  1. Take a look at your recruitment & retention

Review your recruitment processes and focus on hiring employees with the right combination of technical and soft skills, as well as the right personality fit for the business, which is equally as important. Skills can be gained through training and development but you can’t fundamentally change someone’s personality! And when it comes to recruitment in a competitive market, make sure to consider that the ideal person may not tick every box but will be the best hire!

By honing your recruitment and offering your people an environment where they feel valued and motivated, you will definitely see a positive impact in the mid to long term on staff retention too.

  1. Review the work environment and culture

A work environment that encourages productivity, teamwork and a sense of well-being all helps towards people’s appreciation and positivity. There are, of course, a whole load of constraints that can mean this may not be a business priority, but even making a range of small changes, whatever the work environment is, can all add up to happier and more productive staff.

It also pays to encourage team spirit so that people can share good practice and enjoy working together. Celebrate any special achievement or effort by your staff and introduce opportunities where people can take time out during the working day – an informal team lunch, or breakfast perhaps, just to add in some social time without any massive impact on productivity. Research shows that a little reward or recognition for excellent work goes a long way and can help to keep people motivated.

Remember, it is a competitive market for talent and we now work in world where a job is most definitely not for life. In fact many millennials (the biggest chunk of the workforce) will have a number of careers, not just jobs, throughout their years of working. If they are not happy, they will soon move on to the competition. Sometimes it will be natural attrition, as they move to a larger organisation with more opportunities and, yes, sometimes it will be just about the money too. However, many people are willing to stay when they are valued, rewarded, trusted and enjoy their work.