It’s far easier for managers and directors to keep track of sales and margins rather than staff morale; but this is an equally important area of a business to monitor. It’s a fact that unhappy employees are also likely to be unproductive employees, so the happiness and wellbeing of your staff is actually crucial for the success of your business.
Many managers in the finance industry still believe that money talks, blaming a decline in staff motivation on the tough economic climate. However, by not addressing low staff morale properly now, you’re storing up problems for your financial business in the future, either through an inefficient workforce or a high staff turnover.
A 2009 McKinsey survey found that levels of staff satisfaction are falling. The salary that you pay your staff has to be reflective of the work they do; but if your employee hates their job it won’t make any difference whether they’re getting paid £25,000 or £30,000.
Think back to when you were a child. What was more exciting on your birthday – an envelope filled with cash, or that toy that you’d been dreaming of for months? Academic research by Wichita State University in 2009 found that when trying to motivate desired behaviours in employees, non-cash items like merchandise, trips, tickets to things, awards and other exclusive privileges were much better received than cash rewards.
It’s time for the finance sector to take note, and start motivating their employees with these more imaginative and cost-effective methods…
Get the little things right
If you’re not keeping your employees happy on a basic level then even the grandest of gestures won’t work in your favour. A positive working environment doesn’t just come down to the amount of money you pay your staff. It’s things, like having clean, well-maintained toilet facilities on the premises, free tea, coffee, and filtered water, and a comfortable area in which your staff can enjoy their lunch break. These might seem like little things to you, but if you’re not getting them right they’ll mount up and increase the unhappiness amongst your staff. And as we’ve already mentioned, unhappiness leads to unproductive staff, and this will affect your business in the long run.
Put your people first
No man is an island. Or in other words, you can’t run your business without your employees. Keeping your workforce happy and putting them first, above profits and margins, will actually help you to increase your profits in the long run. Here are a few ways that you can show your staff that you put them first, without spending a fortune in bonuses:
- Respect your staff: Treat everyone as an individual, ensuring that you’re flexible and responsive to their personal situations; but also be fair to everyone and don’t give preferential treatment to certain people over others.
- Involve your staff: Ask for their feedback, and welcome any contributions and suggestions that they make, however big or small they may seem. Keep your staff regularly updated with how the company is performing, and share good news with them to boost morale.
- Develop your staff: Lead by example and provide regular constructive feedback and praise to your staff. Avoid micro-managing and let your staff get on with the job that you pay them to do, encourage them to use their initiative. Offer regular training tailored to your employees’ needs, and provide plenty of opportunities for growth within the business.
- Appreciate your staff: You can give your staff all the cash bonuses you like, but until you explicitly thank them for a job well done then they won’t feel truly valued. Take them out to lunch, bring in treats for the office, let them dress down on Fridays – little things like this show your staff that you appreciate them.
- Reward your staff: Offer additional benefits like time off on their birthdays, or flexi-time when they need to go to appointments etc. If you really must give them a bonus then try giving suitable gift vouchers rather than paying it with their salary so that it gets taxed.
Award praise where it’s due
When one of your employees does a good job, offer them praise instead of cash. Make this praise public by doing it in front of the whole company or department in the form of an awards ceremony. Don’t restrict keepsake awards to tombstones and deal toys for your business, make a point of regularly giving out corporate employee awards to show your appreciation of the staff who help to make your business a success.
Handing out praise in the form of a tangible award gives your employees something that they can take home and display proudly, or place on their desk in the office to remind them that they are a valued member of the team. Receiving an award is a great way to motivate your staff to continue doing their job to the same high level, and it’s cost-effective when money is tight for a business.