Why it pays to invest in your employees
Regardless of the vision you have for your business, if you’re serious about helping it succeed, your first job should be to block out some time for your employees.
Developing your staff is key to the growth of your business. And it’s never too soon to start. Whether you’ve just been out for your first team lunch or are thinking about recruiting your first hire, having a plan in place to help them thrive at work is essential.
A recent report from LinkedIn found that a whopping 94 per cent of workers would stay at a company longer if they felt it invested in their careers. A Gartner study, meanwhile, found that just 40 per cent of Australian workers had a strong intention to stay at their current employer. The reasons for the high attrition rate were many, but staff engagement – especially future opportunities – was a critical factor.
As a small business, these findings mean you’re already in a great position to tailor a development strategy for your team. And by creating development plans that take into account individual strengths and skills gaps, you’ll be showing your staff they have a future with your business.
The most effective development plans are rooted in the needs of both your business and your employee. Where is your company headed? What do you want it to achieve? How can your people support those goals? These are the sorts of questions you should be mulling over before getting into detailed planning.
For example, if you decide to open a second store, clearly you can’t be in two places at once. Who can you look to in your business to take responsibility, and what skills do they need to be effective?
Now it’s time to get to know your employees. An employee development plan will help you to spot where they shine and where they could do with extra support.
Pencil in time to find out about their goals, strengths and where they want to develop. Do they want more responsibility? Leadership experience? Where do they want to be in a year’s time? Remember to consider some of the more personal-development needs that could have a negative impact on their work, such as their ability to manage their finances.
Your initial conversation should cover all this in detail, so schedule at least an hour, and make sure you step back and let your employee take the lead – you want them to open up about their needs and aspirations.
Afterwards, agree to catch up every month to find out how things are going, with a more in-depth review of the plan every quarter.
Once you’ve got a good idea of where your employees want to be, it’s time to figure out how to help them get there. At the same time, you need to be realistic about how far your business can go to help them achieve their goals, with the bigger picture (your vision for your business) in mind.
Plan training strategies and personalise them to the way your people learn best. Local events and meet-ups can keep costs down, while online courses can be completed when it suits your people. And stretch tasks will help your employees push themselves constructively.
Don’t forget about the time your team will need for development activities, either.
Set manageable, realistic deadlines for your staff, and with each milestone, talk about what worked and what could have been better. If something isn’t going well, try a different tack.
Evaluation will help both you and your employees identify new needs before moving on to the next phase of development. When done with care, you should soon have engaged, loyal and productive employees all pulling for your cause.
This information does not take into account your personal circumstances and is general. It is an overview only and should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter or relied upon. The information provided in this article should be used as a guide only. We recommend that you seek independent professional legal advice about your specific circumstances.