Keeping employees safe and satisfied can be more difficult than it sounds. Sure, you have to keep your workplace safe and clean and regularly reward employees for a job well done, but there’s more to it than that. 

Why is taking care of your employees important?

Employees want to feel like the company they work for values them, not only for their work but also as individuals. Being treated fairly motivates a workforce to go the extra mile, as well as contributing to job satisfaction and employee retention.  

Making your employees feel safe and satisfied is vital if you want to keep the top talent in your team and improve overall business performance. 

Because employees spend so much time at work, their colleagues and managers become part of their social community. Encouraging caring and positive relationships between your staff can result in an energetic and supportive team.

The benefits of taking care of your employees can include: 

  • Increased job satisfaction throughout the business
  • Better customer service 
  • A positive, motivated atmosphere
  • Better inter-team communication and team work
  • Increased positivity and innovation
  • Dedicated staff willing to go the extra mile

Positive work environments and employee benefits are important things for every company to offer, especially during the current labour shortage. Larger businesses have the time and money to offer very competitive benefits, but it can be harder for small businesses to care for their employees without using too much financial resource or manager time. 

So how can small businesses protect their employees without breaking the bank or overworking their management team? Here are our suggestions. 

Pay fairly 

Providing competitive salaries and at least a living wage is important and will make your employees feel valued. They will be more free of financial stresses and able to maintain a good quality of life. This might seem like a no-brainer, but many companies struggle to bring in or retain quality employees due to not paying fair or competitive wages. 

Not only are competitive wages vitally important, but so are bonuses and regular pay raises. You can run a performance based bonus/pay raise system, but increasing pay in line with inflation or tax hikes will help too. Without this, employees who don’t get raises will effectively be getting pay cuts when tax increases and living life starts to cost more. 

These monetary rewards not only help keep talented employees onboard but also improve their morale and productivity. Pair this with rewarding hard work in other ways too. When you celebrate achievements, employees are more likely to take pride in the company and their work. Make sure all employees get equal recognition to avoid showing favouritism.

Team members who feel they are paid enough will also be more willing to deal with difficult scenarios or pieces of work, and will be more likely to go the extra mile. 

If an employee asks for a raise, consider their reasons carefully and ensure you’re fair in your judgement. If you cannot offer them one, be transparent about why. If it’s due to a lack of budget, see if you can offer them alternatives such as more paid time off. If it’s due to their performance, let them know what they need to be doing better and schedule a meeting to review this performance and their wages at that time so they have some direction and something to work towards.  If an employee asks for advice or feedback about their performance, be honest with them. Explain things they might do differently in a polite and encouraging way. 

Support career growth

Pay raises and praise alone aren’t enough to retain a team though. If your employees are ambitious and want to climb the ladder, encouraging them to do this is important, as is making room in the company for them to do so. If team members feel they have hit their peak at your company and can’t move higher, they’ll seek a job elsewhere with more upward mobility. 

Here are some ways you can support your employee’s career growth: 

  • Offering employees a training budget so they can learn new skills that benefit them and the company
  • Offer mentorships and internal training opportunities
  • Promote employees internally where possible instead of externally hiring
  • Giving interested employees further responsibilities that help them diversify their offering 

All these options are a win-win: not only do they benefit employees but they also feed back into the value of the business. 

Give your employees benefits

Bonuses and regular pay raises are a great way to start, but there are other benefits you could also be offering in order to show that you care about your employees’ physical and mental wellbeing. Desirable benefits can have a hand in employee retention and satisfaction. 

You could offer benefits such as: 

  • Private health and dental coverage, or a contribution towards private healthcare costs
  • Life insurance or income protection 
  • Health incentives like gym memberships or discounts on sessions

But benefits don’t have to be costly. As a small business, it can be difficult to find the money in the budget for pricey staff benefits. However, there are definitely ways around this. For instance, you could offer your employees any of the following: 

  • Flexible working hours and the ability to regularly work from home
  • Paid time off that increases by a day for every year an employee works with the company (although remember to cap this at around 30/35 days!) 

These don’t cost you anything except wages you were already paying, and can be a great benefit for staff.

Encourage a work/life balance

Encouraging employees to go above and beyond is important, but supporting a positive work life balance is even more so. You can do this by monitoring overtime so you know that no team members are being overworked and offer support if they are,  or by creating opportunities for employees to bond and relax outside of work. 

Staff social events can be anything from holiday parties and company retreats to regular lunches or dinners together and drinks after work. This also allows employees space to unwind  a little – either by whining about the tough bits of the job or by talking about anything but work! 

Be available, but don’t micromanage

A good manager will be willing to throw themselves into the trenches and get their hands dirty alongside their team, However, a good manager also knows how to step back and trust their team to get the job done. Nobody wants to be made to feel micromanaged, but it’s also important to be there in case your team needs support. 

Observe your team and have regular check ins so you can identify where they may be struggling and offer to help. Let them know you are at their disposal for support. This allows them to bring you their problems and feel like you have their back, whilst ensuring you don’t need to micromanage anyone. 

To avoid your employees feeling like you’re breathing down their necks, show them you trust them by giving them the freedom to complete projects without constant oversight. Check in regularly, but find a balance. 

Stand by your employees

Anyone working in a customer facing environment is aware of the importance of keeping customers happy, but this should never come at the expense of your team’s wellbeing. Show your loyalty to your employees by supporting them when a customer or client treats them disrespectfully or unfairly. You can do this both in front of the customer and in private. Even if you lose the customer in the process, you’ll have gained the loyalty of the team who believe you’ll go to bat for them if needed. 

What are some ways you’d like to see businesses supporting and protecting their employees?