Business Journals Leadership Trust is an invite-only network of influential business leaders, executives and entrepreneurs in your community. Original article posted here.
When you invest in your employees, you create dedicated team members who know your business and are equally invested in its success. As a leader, you’ll feel good knowing that not only is your business in good hands but that you’ve also enhanced someone’s career.
It can be difficult to know how to start this process, so we turned to the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust for advice. We asked how they invest in their team members beyond signing their paychecks. Here are their top recommendations and why these strategies work so well.
Providing continuous education
Investing in our people through continuous education is an extremely important tool to support both their engagement and development. EEP offers free education courses on various industry topics. These courses demonstrate how our company is committed to an employee’s overall development and provide additional opportunities to improve our services and the value proposition we offer to the market. – Chuck Hurchalla, Evolution Energy Partners
Giving student loan relief
Student loans are a common concern among our new employees. We’ve found a way to address that by applying the Section 2206 benefit from the CARES Act. We can reward certain employees with a loan payment of up to $5,250 that is excluded from income and payroll taxes if paid before December 31, 2020. Employees are grateful for the financial freedom, and we add value to our team. – Sharon Olson, Olson Wealth Group LLC
Learning about them as people
As new employees join, we take the time to learn about them before they start. We learn things like favorite foods, interests outside of work and where they were born. We share this information with the current team so that when the new member arrives, we have already invested in getting to know them. Our goal is to establish from the first day that we are invested in you and want you to feel welcome. – Diana Strader, Kappa Computer Systems LLC
Incorporating their interests into their work
Take the time to not only get to know your employees professionally but also personally. Get to know the names of their family members or significant others and sincerely ask about them periodically. Take the time to find out about their hobbies and passions, and if possible, incorporate some aspects of these interests into their job in an appropriate way. – John Bennett, Renasant Bank
Supporting their professional growth and physical health
Our team members can receive more than 50 hours of training during the year through our online learning program and in-house training. Courses focus on everything from project management to customer service. Our new hires go through a 10-day program that includes industry-specific training. We also invest in employee wellness by offering onsite boot camps, gym access and a basketball court. – Scott Scully, Abstrakt Marketing Group
Celebrating work anniversaries
Employees must be treated as a valued facet of your business rather than just a means to an end. One way ServiceMaster by Stratos does this is by acknowledging work anniversaries. We provide a monetary gift and a handwritten note from each manager. Sure, the money is great, but the personalized note is even more impactful because it fosters deeper connections and shows that leadership truly cares. – Stacy McCall, ServiceMaster by Stratos
Fostering online learning with group discussions
We believe in lifelong learning. We built an online university where all employees can learn about a variety of topics from anywhere. The subjects need not be tied directly to their job duties. Paid time is given for learning, and we encourage regular group discussions for transparency and to reinforce the habit. We’ve seen massive employee growth and engagement from this initiative. – Natalie Ruiz, AnswerConnect
Asking employees what they want
Spend time asking them what they want from you, the company, their careers and life. Too often, we focus only on managing people’s outputs based on the business goals, and we forget there’s a human and not a machine in front of you. Immerse yourself sincerely in each individual and you will reap the reward of that time investment. – Robert Newland, Newland Associates
Matching assignments with skills employees want to learn
A majority of my team is made up of college students. Once they earn their degree, they move on to their first full-time job. In addition to developing leadership and problem-solving skills in each of them, I ask each one to identify a skill they would like to develop while they are with us. Then I try to match assignments with the skill they want to develop and help coach them along the way. – Shannon Laine, HealthWorks! Kids’ Museum St. Louis
Holding one-on-one meetings with leadership
In addition to having an open-door policy for all staff, I invest my time in one-on-one meetings every month with each member of leadership. Understanding the CEO’s intent as it evolves over time provides leaders a framework in which to operate while empowering them to find the best ways to carry out that mission within their personal leadership style and the uniqueness of the team they manage. – Daniel Serfaty, Aptima, Inc.
Considering their past performance and future potential
Treat it as a financial investment. Create a system to research the past performance and future potential of your employees. Then invest in skills training, goal-setting and confidence-building to help them reach peak performance. – Samir Mokashi, Code Unlimited LLC
Mentoring them personally
Personal mentorship is one great way to invest in your employees. By taking the time to understand their goals, dreams and aspirations, you will build a stronger relationship with your team and feel great about it, too. – Zee Ali, Z-Swag
Making yourself accessible
My goal is to make myself accessible to all of my employees. I aim to provide them with the skills necessary to go out and make a difference in the world. They become endeared to me and love helping make my businesses a success, knowing I am not going to give up on helping them fulfill their professional dreams and desires. – Amber Duncan, Jackie
Offering professional development stipends and guest lectures
“Practice curiosity” is our mantra. We want our people to take proactive steps in following their interests, including both those related to their job and what they are passionate about outside of work. In addition to a professional development stipend, we invite a diverse range of guest lecturers to speak with our team on topics such as artificial intelligence, mindfulness and homelessness in central Ohio. – Lauren Parker, FrazierHeiby
Take the time necessary to create a feedback culture within your organization by regularly opening up lines of communication and asking for feedback. Schedule regular one-on-one sessions and directly visit your employees. This assures that team members not only feel comfortable bringing concerns to your attention but are also receptive to feedback on their performance. – Jeffrey Bartel, Hamptons Group, LLC