#EmployeeAppreciationDay is all about showing staff they’re not just working for the company, they’re part of it.
Every business wants to have happy employees, but what steps can they take to make that happen? Let’s have a look at the John Lewis Partnership (JL), which in a 2014 survey was ranked the second-best company to work for in the UK.
I really like what the JL constitution says about its purpose – remember the firm is owned by its staff.
The Partnership’s ultimate purpose is the happiness of all its members, through their worthwhile and satisfying employment in a successful business. Because the Partnership is owned in trust for its members, they share the responsibilities of ownership as well as its rewards – profit, knowledge and power.
John Lewis has been going since 1864, so it’s had a long time to tinker with how the business works. But regular SMEs might be able to learn lessons from the firm to ensure employees can have a happier time with a company.
Your staff should have the expertise and resources to work effectively. Do they need extra training or access to new skills and ideas? See if you can start a small office library of business-related books for people to borrow, or if there are any local training courses they could qualify for.
Share the expertise within the business; so if one department has achieved something, show other staff members how this was done.
Workers have to feel like they’re always moving forward and improving themselves.
You could argue that a business sits somewhere between despotism – the boss is the absolute ruler and you must do as she says – and democracy. You have to find the balance between the two.
Give your staff a chance to contribute and shape business decisions, whether external – selecting markets to target and products to stock – or internal, such as figuring out ways to improve processes in the office or warehouse.
You and your colleagues are on the same journey – let them steer the ship.
It’s not feasible to expect every SME to become a worker-owned business and to share profit. But spending some money on extra perks for employees – that is, outside contractual items such as salaries and bonuses – can make people happier.
Invest in shared events for teams to go on. Take them to lunch. Reward people with vouchers for days out, perhaps to a spa or go-karting. Give them little, personalised gifts on their ‘office birthday’ (the day they joined the company). Tell them when they do a good job and mean it.
Every team is made up of individuals and individuals deserve to be acknowledged.
As we’ve said before on the blog, appreciating employees should always be on a bosses’ action list. By creating the right environment you’ll have happier colleagues, a more pleasant work atmosphere and you’ll create a better chance for your company to do well in the market.
So let’s celebrate Employee Appreciation Day and remind ourselves that there are 364 other days to live up to.