Why Small Business Should Support Their Employees (and How to Do It)
As a small business owner, you might think your most important investment is in your equipment, or in the R&D for your latest product, but in most companies, your employees are your most important assets. Your workers will be the ones communicating with clients, adhering to your brand values, and ultimately helping the company grow — so it’s in your best interest to to know how to support your employees in any way you can.
- Attendance and productivity. Worker illnesses and injuries costs employers in the United States alone more than $225 billion every year. Providing more support to your employees can help prevent those maladies, addressing them proactively so they don’t interfere with productivity. While on the job, your employees may also be more productive, capable of doing more in less time or seeing higher performance rates.
- Morale and retention. Employee turnover is also a bigger problem than you might imagine; the cost of replacing an employee is between 6 and 9 month’s salary, depending on the role. Supporting your employees keeps them happier, and higher morale means both higher productivity and greater employee retention.
- Reputation. How you treat your employees can also affect your company’s reputation, especially now that sites like Glassdoor have allowed employees to explain what it’s like to work for an employer. The better you treat your employees, the more positively your brand will be seen.
How to Support Your Employees
The benefits of knowing how to support your employees sound great, but how can you realistically achieve them?
These are some of the tips on how to support your employees:
- Offer resources for employee health. Offer whatever resources you can to support employee health. Platforms like iCliniq can allow your employees to consult with doctors and medical professionals so they can quickly respond to their illnesses and injuries. Gym franchises like Anytime Fitness also offer group discounts, if you wanted to sponsor your employees with a complimentary gym membership. You can also improve employee health by improving their awareness of the effects of nutrition and exercise on health and wellbeing.
- Provide ongoing education and development opportunities. You can also support your employees by giving them more opportunities for education and ongoing development. For example, you might offer to compensate employees for new classes they take for their career. These benefits make your employees more valuable, and also give them a good reason to stick around; they get to learn new knowledge and skills at a reduced rate, and in a stable environment.
- Consider allowing more workplace flexibility. The more flexibility you offer in the workplace, the more employees will be able to find a suitable work-life balance. According to a report by Indeed, some of the best companies for workplace flexibility were H&R Block, which offers tuition assistance, Network Capital Funding Corporation, which allows flexible employee scheduling, and In-N-Out Burger, which works around employee needs and offers free meals. There are many options available to you here, from offering flexible hours and scheduling, to instating BYOD policies and creating a more relaxed dress code.
- Allow personal time. Everyone needs personal time if they want to continue to be successful professionals. Sometimes, that means taking time off work to handle a family crisis. Other times, that means taking a vacation to decompress from the stress of your position. Either way, allowing employees to comfortably and consistently take the time they need can help them stay healthy and happy, no matter how stressful their jobs become.
- Offer retirement benefits. If you can, offer retirement benefits to your employees. A 401(k) plan with a company match can ensure your employees have a viable path to retirement — and there are other alternatives to consider that provide similar incentives, like a SIMPLE IRA. Even if you don’t offer a formal program, you can support your employees by providing them with educational materials and resources they can use to plan their own financial futures.
The biggest thing holding small business owners back from pursuing these forms of employee support is cost; even basic employee wellness programs can cost thousands of dollars, and allowing more time off means more time your employees are getting paid, but not working. Just remember to think of your employees not as an expense, but as an investment, and even minimal investments can have a massive payoff in terms of morale, productivity, and retention.
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