Employee engagement in a tight labor market
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Look at your team through a different lens

Is your business getting better? Showing some signs of growth? If so you might have tried to go out and hire some new team members only to discover – it’s getting hard to find good people again. When the labor market gets tight (as it is right now) it’s time to find ways to get more out of the people you have.

Employee engagement in a tight labor market

If I told you that you could grow your sales another 25% – 50% without adding any more people, how would that sound? What would that do for your bottom line? For managers and leaders usually more people mean more problems – so let’s see if we can get more out of the team we have first. You need your team to perform for your business but there are things they need from you too.

Here are a few things that you can do to make your team happier, more productive, and make you more money:

  1. Be a strong leader. The #1 reason that people leave a company is poor management. Don’t believe me? There’s ample evidence that backs me up on this. Poor management means people aren’t getting accurate, timely feedback, they don’t believe there are opportunities for growth, they feel under appreciated or underutilized. Does any of this sound familiar? What are you doing to make yourself a better leader?
  2. Give them an opportunity to shine. Humans want to be good at something – they want to be able to achieve, and demonstrate competence. If your company’s systems and processes are poor, causing incomplete or inaccurate inputs, or lots of rework, they don’t get to have that experience. Are the systems around your team members helping them to do what they do best? Do you trust them enough to let them run with things? Employees appreciate a challenge, a chance to shine; in fact, they crave it.
  3. Show appreciation. I’m always amazed at how much difference it makes when I say thank you. It might be the most powerful phrase in your management toolbox. How often are you using it? Paychecks are not thank you notes. When someone is exemplary in their behavior, or performance take a minute to say thanks; or better yet write them a note. Take the time to take that extra step.
  4. Pay them! While money isn’t everything, it is a factor. Most people don’t leave jobs because of money, but if the disparity is great enough they will. This is most common when you have someone in the first 5 years of their career. You got them for a bargain and you’ve been able to get by giving them minimal raises. But now they are really valuable, even leading projects and handling things on their own. How much would you have to pay to hire someone with that talent? You’d better find a way to catch them up. Start thinking about doing raises every quarter or twice a year for your younger people. If you can promote them, give them a title change (and a real change in responsibilities) that’s a reason to bump them up. In tight labor markets we see salaries rise fastest for these young workers who have built some skills and a track record, but still relatively inexpensive. There’s a reason for that – they can create real value! Don’t let them walk out the door.

If you had to grow your business without adding any additional people, could you do it? If the economy stays on track the next couple of years, we may find out!

Photo credit: andrewrennie

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