Why do people want to work where they work? What makes them want to return to a particular workplace? Right now there’s a ton of competition for good employees in the job market. There are more jobs openings than there are workers. Employers are scrambling to keep employees on board through non-compete clauses, which are partially at fault for low wages.
But any worthwhile business doesn’t need non-compete clauses, because a worthwhile business is a place where people want to work. The non-compete clause is an artificial means of ensuring loyalty. As a small business owner, you’re looking for authentic ways to inspire loyalty.
The longer an employee stays on board, the more valuable they are to your business. From building team solidarity to setting up your workplace for success, here are some great ways to ensure stability and loyalty.
Build Team Solidarity
People are socially motivated. If you have a team of people who like to work with each other and have great relationships, they’re more likely to stick around.
Consider the following team building practices for maximum solidarity:
- Identify leaders and help them develop: Look for individuals who have good interpersonal relationships with others, are focused on group goals, are willing to help others without seeking glory, and are able to manage conflicts.
- Cultivate diversity: Out of 366 companies surveyed by Mckinsey, those with the most racial and ethnic diversity outperformed the others by 35 percent; since good teamwork improves performance, it’s safe to say a diversity of perspectives will help your team thrive.
- Be straight-up about goals: Employees must know what their short-term and long-term goals are at all times. Put them in writing or use project management software; update regularly.
- Establish effective communication: Communication must be clear and open. Go beyond the “open door policy” — reach out to employees to find out what they think. Communication can be especially fun and easy if everyone has an app they can use to talk as a team and contact individuals anytime during work hours.
- Make incentives worth it: Don’t stop at regular raises and bonuses for loyalty and good performance; include activities and parties as incentives for meeting group goals.
A strong team will go a long way towards helping you meet sales goals. Your workplace will be cheerful and energetic, and each member will add their special touch. Be lighthearted when you can be, demonstrate what it means to treat others with respect, care, and joy, and your team will follow suit.
Be Culturally Savvy
Now that you have a diverse, communicative, incentivized team with clear goals and good leaders, it’s time to account for culture.
The degree of cultural difference in your workplace depends on where your employees are from. That being said, the best way to work with a diverse team is to err on the side of caution, respect, and general knowledge at the outset, and then get to know each person in-depth.
To begin, acquaint yourself with cross-cultural management best practices:
- Understand communication differences: For example, Asian cultures use silence as a sign of respect and as an active listening cue; German people are blunt with their opinions, while Latin and Asian cultures don’t tend to express disagreement directly.
- Build relationships with tact: In America, a business email will get straight to the point, but in Asia, it’s important to use proper formalities, even when the message is casual; Middle East cultures require frequent meetings to establish relationships before straightforward business proceeds. Also, pay attention to body language, notice differences, and adjust for them.
- Use open-ended questions: As opposed to, “Do you think this project will be a success?” use “What do you think is the best way to proceed with this project?” or “How can I help you prepare?”
Many employees of varying ethnicities will come to your workplace expecting to adjust themselves to your culture. Show them you’re at least willing to meet them halfway, and they’ll be some of the most loyal and productive employees you have.
Ditch the Open Office Floor Plan
In today’s modern workplace, it seems like a great idea to have an open floor plan to promote communication and a casual, shirtsleeves-rolled-up atmosphere. The problem is the open workspace can actually decrease face-to-face communication by up to 70 percent. Employees in open offices tend to send more emails and instant messages, which can hurt productivity and performance because checking an email or message disrupts attention.
Here’s the logic: face-to-face communication is a good thing because it helps build relationships and promotes problem-solving. But in an open office, the lack of a physical boundary causes employees to disconnect because they’re inundated with face-to-face proximity. In other words, when you have too much of anything it’s not good anymore. This applies to physical proximity as much as it does sitting — which leads us to the next point.
Provide Opportunities for Breaks and Exercise
In a debate with organizational psychologist Adam Grant, renowned journalist Malcolm Gladwell asserts that businesses need to pay more attention to employee health. As we’ve come to understand that too much sitting in front of a desk is deadly, offices have made an effort to incorporate standing desks and treadmill desks.
Yet standing desks and treadmill desks don’t solve the real problem: workers aren’t getting enough exercise. Promote a culture of fitness in your workplace. Encourage employees to take walks and, if possible, provide a gym or yoga space (or both). The more your employees keep their blood flowing, the healthier, happier, and more productive they’ll be. This will keep them coming to work.
Adopt the 4 Day Work-Week and Remote Work
This might seems counterintuitive, but when it comes to good work, less is more. Less time at the office means you get more work done. This applies in two different ways: the 4-day work- week, and remote work.
4 Day Work-Week
In New Zealand, a firm called Perpetual Guardian shortened the work week to 4 days but continued to pay employees for 5 days of work. Employees improved their work-life balance by 24 percent, their stress levels decrease by 7 percent, and “overall life satisfaction” increased by 5 percent.
If anything could keep employees happy, it’s lower stress levels and a better work-life balance. Happy employees are more likely to stay on board, which will increase retention and decrease the cost of attrition.
In a study on remote work conducted by Stanford professor Nicholas Bloom, telecommuters were able to concentrate better at home than in the office, and the attrition rate decreased by 50 percent. The productivity gain was equivalent to a full days’ worth of work. Ultimately, the company in the study saved $2K per employee.
An emphasis on quality over quantity is where the world of work is headed. If your team works well together, you prioritize diversity and respect for diverse cultures, employee health is good, communication is good in the office, and employees have the option to work less and reach well-defined goals, you’ll be at the forefront of a revolution in the way we work.