Being in business means we make investments every single day, with the hope those investments will grow into something big. From money we put into the marketing to buying an office or a warehouse. Everyday is a constant battle of weighing up risk v reward. Sometimes though, it is easy to overlook the best investment you can make. Your employees.
Unless you are a one man band, then you are going to need an army of people helping you succeed in a very competitive world. But how do you make sure your staff are happy and deliver the very best they can, even when things are really tough? Companies such as Google have been praised for their incredibly offices. Creating a relaxed environment with ping pong tables, free gourmet lunches and bean bags in chill out areas. This is a great way of making your staff feel at home and helping to boost their creativity. You don’t have to have a massive budget to get in on some google inspired action. If you have a decent sized office, think about managing the space so you can give your employees a really fun zone. Somewhere they can step out of their office and instantly get an injection of fun and inspiration. Using event flooring to create a themed area will take the usually dull floor tiles of an office, to the next level. If you are based 15 stories up you could even recreate the feeling of outdoor space. You don’t want loads of distractions but using a professional ping pong table like one of these, instead of a meeting table, will give you a usable bit of furniture which also doubles up as a bit of recreational fun.
In London, Exposure PR take their employees happiness to the next level. The office is bright and open with only a few closed office spaces and meeting rooms. This gives their staff a feeling of being together. It can help, if you have large teams working in different areas, to bring these guys together and help them understand what each team are looking to deliver. You may find this helps to inspire each other or gives them more desire to work harder and more efficient if one team is waiting on the other to complete before they can take on work. Exposure also has a cool bar and exhibition space on the ground floor. On Friday nights the employees tend to kick of the evening here, together with the CEO of the company, Tim Bourne. Tim is one of the most successful men in PR and Marketing so knows very well how small things can make people really happy or switch them off. You can recreate this idea by pulling your team together once a week and taking them to a nearby bar or restaurant. Think about ending the day an hour early for anyone who wants to come with you. Getting paid to spend an hour at the bar, with their boss, is going to be more fun than that extra hour in the office. Whilst you may think you are losing work out of the staff, you are actually encouraging them to work harder during the week. You also have the opportunity to talk to them on a more relaxed level. The trick is to be the first to arrive, buy a round, then leave early. This will remind your employees there is a divide. You are a fun boss, but you are still the boss.
Incentives are a great way of getting that little bit more out of an employee and will be one of the best investments you have made in your business. This can be anything from an employee of the week scheme to an expensive watch for your top salesman of the year. By asking your staff to up their game a little bit you will see a little more return, if you use this to reinvest in your staff you will ensure they feel they are being appreciated.
Think about heading out with two different teams, every quarter. You could just stick to paintballing for a little bit of fun and teamwork, or you could think about a team work and staff morale course. Depending on your staff, it can be more fun to think of activities that seem less related to work and more about having fun. This will encourage more people to want to attend. Taking a group go karting, for example, looks like an awesome day out but is a great way of getting your staff to be a little more competitive with one another. An afternoon climbing will help to boost their confidence and show them they can achieve great things if they work together, supporting each other or if they push themselves outside of their limits. The military are brilliant and bonding exercises and these range from corps boxing nights to two weeks skiing. The idea is to make their troops feel like they belong and to help gel them as a family showing them how working together delivers better results and teaching them to support members of the team who may be struggling with certain elements. You can help your employees feel they belong by encouraging lots of team building challenges in the office too. Even simple brainstorming exercises can help people to bond and highlight weaknesses and strengths which might have gone unnoticed. This will help everyone work more efficiently.
Investments which show the best return financially, don’t always need a huge amount of money up front. Time and care, coupled with an open door policy, often inspire your staff to push a little bit harder for you. If you can help them believe that your company is also their company then they will fight for it and support it.
Don’t forget your employees are adults. If times are hard then let them know, give it to them straight. Sometimes employers have a tendency to shield their staff from the tough times, when in reality if your teams know there are tough times coming, they will get their heads down and work even harder for you.
So invest in your staff and you will never be disappointed in the return.