How do you support employees during uncertain times and when the likes of dealing with mental health is a higher priority now more than ever?
If you’re a small business owner, you know managing people is more than just admin.
You’re conducting a whole symphony of memorising individual backgrounds and interests, understanding personalities and preferences, and building a culture that encourages your staff to thrive at what they do.
Or you want to, at least.
This is your unique opportunity to build genuine relationships with your people.
And when you do, your workforce will feel respected and appreciated, and more personally invested in the success of the company.
Your people will become empowered to give the best of their skills and take pride in their contribution to your business.
Your goals around how your employees feel about working for your business can be tough to measure.
You want people to enjoy working for you, but doing so isn’t as formulaic as, say, making a sale. It takes a completely different set of skills and tools to track where you are and build a plan to improve.
But first you need to understand what makes an employer supportive.
This article will explain the support components that your employees need to see from you, and the tools available to make it easier for you to provide.
Here’s what we cover:
What makes a supportive employer?
So, what do your employees need to see from you to feel supported?
We break this down below into four components that make a holistic approach to employee support.
1. Training and support
It’s vital to consider how confident your employees are in doing their jobs as well as possible.
Today’s workforce is ever-changing as technology reshapes nearly everything we do.
Start a dialogue with your employees about training opportunities if/when budget allows. Empower your people with what they need to upskill in their roles.
This will make them feel confident in their contribution and it fuels innovation to do things better and smarter.
Think about each person’s role and what they do day-to-day.
Are there any roadblocks to getting things done?
The more you make things easier for them by removing their challenges, the more productive they will be.
2. Communication and engagement
Communication and engagement are such critical factors to people management that our research shows 73% of HR leaders think marketing communications skills would be useful for that role within three years.
Your employees need the security of information—knowing they always have the latest information available as it relates to being employed by you.
Communications must be clear and on a frequent enough basis that is helpful, yet not intrusive.
In a world of remote and disparate working, there’s a greater need for that sense of belonging and connection at work.
In the absence of face-to-face time, there needs to be even more focus on communication.
Rewards and recognition
Your benefits package offering can go a long way in terms of enticing and engaging your employees.
Consider the demographic and interests of your employees when deciding what to offer – differing lifestyles will appreciate different perks.
Consider how your benefits package can support overall well-being – a key priority within today’s workforce.
Also, recognition is vital to making sure your people feel valued for the work that they do.
Make recognition programmes inclusive, don’t skimp on spending and make sure you have a range of ways to reward and recognise employees.
Some people may like a company-wide shout-out, while others may be slightly mortified at the prospect and prefer a more discrete way of being recognised, such as a personal email from a senior member of the leadership team.
Try fostering a culture of recognition and appreciation.
It could be the most cost-effective way to maintain a happy and engaged workforce where your people feel valued.
Simply by recognising and acknowledging employees for their work, you can generate a strong emotional commitment to your company.
The world of work is always changing. Frequent and continuous feedback gives you regular, up-to-date insights into how your people are doing.
This enables you to carry your workforce with you, constantly improve your processes, and respond to and improve experiences for your staff as everyone adjusts to the new way of working.
Historically, companies have conducted annual engagement surveys to monitor their employees’ engagement and commitment to the company.
However, results from these surveys rarely led to insights or actions and employees can view these as a ‘check the box’ business commitment.
Just make sure you demonstrate you’re listening by communicating what and how you’re changing – and the rationale if some things are not able to be changed right now.
Technology tools for employee support
Much like everything else with business management, technology streamlines everything you need to do in support of your employees so you can manage it all from one place.
Cloud HR software is the perfect solution. It’s built with the components we’ve described above in mind and offers the tools you need to master all four. Here’s how:
Instead of physical signatures, use e-signatures for important documents. Save time and ensure your staff has copies for their own records.
Integration with existing tech stacks
Connect your HR software with technology you already use such as Slack, Microsoft Office, Zapier and G Suite.
Schedule anonymous surveys to keep a steady stream of data about how your people feel about working for you and how you’re handling them.
You can send the pulse survey monthly, quarterly, or however frequently you think is necessary to capture the real picture.
Communication and marketing tools
Notify your employees of any new policies, benefits, work practices through workflow builders. HR software allows you to customise your communications to capture the tone, style, and voice that resonates with your brand and culture.
You can also use these tools to communicate recognition and rewards. A little spotlight can go a long way.
Better data and analytics
The data you get from people management software gives you better insight into how to build better employee experiences.
This means applying data-driven approaches to understanding your workforce – and how you both manage and engage them.
This is more than just people analytics.
In practice, it means not just mining data and reporting it but analysing it, and gaining actionable insights to test hypotheses and identify solutions.
Understanding what the data is telling you about your workforce is another vital way to know how you can design experiences at work that make your people feel valued, truly putting them first in your business.
Final thoughts on supporting your employees
Companies that put people first and truly value their workforce deliver great experiences throughout the entire employment journey.
People-first companies know their people and what drives them – and they use this information to create an employer journey that constantly continues to energise their workforce and get the best from them.
If your business isn’t doing this at the moment, it’s worth taking the steps to do so now.
Your employees will appreciate it and it will help them perform at their best.
Editor’s note: This article was first published in February 2021 and has been updated for relevance.
Recommended Next Read
How to support the career development of your practice team
Never miss an episode
Subscribe by email and get Sound Advice delivered to your inbox every two weeks with the Sage Advice newsletter with a ton of related articles, templates and problem solving guides for small businesses so you can put our sound advice into practice.