When you’re working in the industrial or commercial sectors, your livelihood depends on your ability to stand out in a dense crowd. The ability to distinguish yourself from the competition and represent a better value prospect for the customer is of paramount importance if you expect to grow your brand. Whether you operate in the B2C or B2B space, your clientele expect you to consistently deliver value. And if you can’t, there are legions of competitors out there who can.
But where does that value come from? While everything from your operational processes to your content marketing and, of course, your products and services all play a big part in creating that value, your employees are your real value added. It’s their customer interactions that bring faith and belief in your brand. It’s their hard work, effort and enthusiasm that make the principles in your mission statement come to life. It’s their productivity and endeavor that helps you to stay agile in a competitive market and ensure that you’re always delivering.
Your customers are your value added. Yet many businesses cut corners when hiring and developing their personnel in ways that might seem like prudent cost-cutting measures but virtually always end up detrimental to their brand.
Remember: Great candidates don’t always make great employees
Of course, the whole process of development starts with great candidates. You can’t expect to make outstanding products out of inferior materials which is why you take such time and effort to recruit the best candidates. However, an argument could be made for outsourcing the recruitment process. The unfortunate truth is that not all business owners know what to look for in a candidate, and can unconsciously bring their preconceptions and prejudices to the recruitment process letting exceptional candidates slip through the net.
However, even if you are 100% satisfied with your choice in candidates, that doesn’t necessarily make for great employees. Candidates are the raw material from which outstanding employees are sculpted, but if you expect to get the best out of an employee from day one…
Onboarding is (almost) everything!
Your onboarding process is essential in establishing what you expect of your employees from the day they begin working for you. It teaches them how they’ll apply their existing knowledge and skills and translate it into excellence in their new role. It will also include any additional training that they need to do their job safety and with confidence and surety such as hazardous materials training, first aid or proper lifting and handling procedures. Perhaps more importantly, though, your onboarding process will familiarize new team members with your company culture.
Your company culture is the vehicle through which the values and ideals in your mission statement are carried out into your day to day operations. And this is much more cohesive when employees understand how to embody your workplace culture in their interactions with customers, outsourced third parties and, of course, each other.
Onboarding is almost everything… but it’s vital that you remember that training should go way beyond the onboarding process.
Invest in CPD
Employee training should be carried out regularly throughout every employee’s journey. Yes, it can be costly. Yes, it can be disruptive. But ongoing employee training is an essential investment if you expect to deliver operational excellence. Cut costs on employee training today and you’ll have to fork out a great deal more to replace employees who have left you because they feel overworked, underprepared and underappreciated.
Ideally, every employee should have access to their own course of Continuing Professional Development. This doesn’t just mean imparting them with the skills to do better at their jobs (although that’s certainly a part of it). It means equipping them with the knowledge and skills that they need to achieve their career and personal goals. If employees feel that they’re able to do this with you, they’ll feel valued as people. And that means they’ll be more likely to reward you with their loyalty.
This means that you can provide your customers with a consistently high standard of customer service while also insulating yourself from the risk of high turnover rates.
Leverage assessment to drive excellence
It goes without saying that nobody enjoys tests. But testing and assessment are vital tools in driving operational excellence. Assessment gives employees an opportunity to test their skills while also providing employers with data that can help them to identify employees’ areas of development.
What’s more, when employees meet or exceed your expectations it gives you a great opportunity to reward them and show them that their efforts are recognised and celebrated. Which brings us to…
Implement an employee recognition program
One of the most common pain points among businesses is the issue of employee engagement. Unfortunately, the majority of employees either don’t feel engaged or feel actively disengaged at work. And when employees aren’t engaged they’re less likely to be productive and less likely still to delight your customers in the way that you expect.
Implementing an employee recognition program gives you a structured approach to sharing and celebrating employee achievement in the workplace. This helps you to perpetuate a workplace culture that’s conducive to support, encouragement and a cohesive team dynamic.
There are platforms that allow you to do this that look and feel just like the social platforms your employees use all the time in their personal lives. In fact Facebook has one of its own called Workplace. With these platforms you can share employees’ achievements and your team can share, comment and tag just like any social media post. They can even be used in conjunction with incentive and reward schemes. However…
Individual incentives can be great… but they have their dark side, too!
Finally, as potentially useful as individual monetary incentives can be in helping team members hit their targets, they also have a dark side. They can foster a spirit of individualism rather than camaraderie and prevent a feeling of shared success among the workforce. If you use these, consider supplementing them with team based incentives to help inspire a sense of cohesion within your workforce.