Richard Branson is famous for stating, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” There’s no doubt that the business tycoon was on to something, as the business world has increasingly recognized the truth of Branson’s sentiment ever since it was initially uttered.
Why Investing in Employees Matters
At this point, there’s virtually no CEO in the US who would argue with the fact that investing in a company’s employees is a major cornerstone to sustained success. However, while it’s easy to confirm that “investing in your employees” sounds good in theory, there’s a difference between grand, sweeping statements and genuinely understandable explanations. Below are a few of the specific reasons that cultivating happy, content employees can be the bedrock for success.
It Does Wonders for Your Corporate Image
It’s worth considering the concept of investing in employees from three different angles: your customers, the competition, and your employees themselves.
To take customers first, genuinely investing in your employees helps you exude an aura of corporate social responsibility (CSR). While CSR is typically associated with activities that affect the public, it also applies to a corporation’s stakeholders and employees. By adopting a socially responsible posture towards your employees you naturally boost your brand’s value, awareness, and customer loyalty.
It Helps You Attract the Top Talent
From the competition’s perspective, a company that invests in its employees becomes a beacon of professional success. Not only does it foster healthy and happy workers, it attracts the top talent from your competition as well.
An employee who feels disgruntled by their current work situation will naturally be allured by your own company’s employee satisfaction rate. While this may feel like a nice, but hardly worth-while side effect, it can come in extremely handy whenever you wade into the ongoing talent war in search of top employees to bring into your ranks.
When you embark on recruiting efforts, your ongoing investment in your employees can give you a natural edge over any competition. This is especially true in a world where Millennials have clearly expressed the fact that money is not the only thing they’re looking for in a job. They also want respect and the ability to maintain work-life balance, both of which are common factors that come along with investing in a company’s staff.
It Cultivates an Empowered and Invested Work Environment
Finally, there are your employees themselves. If you focus your efforts on investing in your employees, you will naturally cultivate a work environment that encourages invested and empowered workers.
When an employee feels valued, they naturally develop a sense of well-being and appreciation for their employer and are much more likely to feel more committed to their employer’s success.
Ways to Invest in Your Employees
While it’s easy to nod in agreement, actually putting words into action can sometimes be difficult. A cereal bar or an employee of the month poster isn’t going to reflect genuine care for your employees. Instead, consider some of these common options for truly investing in your staff:
- Train your staff: Look for anything from e-learning opportunities to local classes and self-teaching software in order to help increase your staff’s abilities and close the skill gaps they may have when it comes to performing their jobs.
- Invest in a Chief Learning Officer (CLO): A chief learning officer is specifically tasked with finding ways to improve their employee’s education and personal development.
- Practice active listening: If the leadership doesn’t listen, the employees won’t feel valued. Always listen to your employees and consider their input.
- Empower your employees: As a leader, put the power in the hands of your staff by encouraging and supporting their decisions, communicating roles and organizational goals, and giving your employees autonomy to operate on their own.
- Let the consequences of success and failure trickle down: Empowered employees must be allowed to feel a sense of responsibility, success, and failure for their own actions. This comes from employers placing trust in their employees.
- Provide resources: Make sure to show open concern and consideration for your employees’ health and wellness. Provide resources, too, for everything from cancer prevention to how to deal with conditions like GERD, what preventative care looks like, health and wellness programs, and how to be aware of mental health.
If you look for ways to honestly empower and invest in your employees, your efforts will be amply rewarded through the establishment of loyalty, trust, and genuine investment in your business efforts.
Investing for Success
From empowerment to training, active listening, and providing resources, there are countless ways to legitimately invest in your employees. These efforts can go a long way in developing a healthy work culture, attracting top talent to your company, and cultivating a positive image with your customers.
As has hopefully been made abundantly clear by now, if you truly want to find success when investing in your employees, it’s critical that you go about the process with a genuine, legitimate, and authentic concern for your employees’ well-being. Empty platitudes and gestures will be called out. It’s only through actual care and concern that employers can create a rock-solid company that focuses on its employees first and its customers second.
Written by: Indiana Lee, BOSS contributor