When you run your own business staff are usually one of the main overheads that need to be considered. Whilst it may be possible to pare those costs significantly, there could well be ways to improve how you take care of the people in your business and improve your efficiency.Let’s consider some ways to improve how you care for the people, your company’s major resource.- Lets’s start with you! You’re the core, the mission statement and the driving force behind your business. It’s important that you love what you do, feel motivated and inspired. That passion will be what sustains you throughout the times when things go wrong, you lose a deal or something doesn’t work out as anticipated.If you’re working long hours, possibly with little financial reward, aim to minimise stress and burnout by scheduling regular breaks. Detaching yourself for a short while enables you to switch off, ground yourself and reduce your stress levels. Research has proven that people who take breaks return to work with a better mindset, renewed energy, often bringing new ideas and perspective to the table.Go for a walk, even if it’s just round the block. Find a park and spend an undisturbed twenty minutes eating a healthy lunch. Share your worries with a trusted friend or family member and allow them to be supportive. Have a cut-off time at home when you turn off technology and enjoy companionable relaxation with loved ones.
It can make real sense to hire expertise in areas where your knowledge or skills are limited. Paying someone to deal with your specialist needs can save time and help you avoid expensive mistakes. Often Human Resources, Public Relations, IT support, Social Media can be brought in on an ad hoc basis. Equally, at home might it be worth considering hiring help with cleaning, ironing or gardening in order to give yourself free time in evenings and weekends? Treat it as an investment in yourself.Agree to be perfectly imperfect. Being conscientious and checking work is important but if you’re increasingly stressed and lacking confidence when dealing with customers it may be time to reflect on ways to share the load.Might there be some merit in forming alliances with other businesses? It could ease your pressure and enable you to add value by introducing a complementary product or service to your business. You could support each other’s success whilst establishing yourself as the ‘go-to guy’ for referrals.Maintain relationships away from work by keeping in touch with friends, maybe inviting them round for an evening, even if it’s just for an hour or two. Alternatively, if you find that your free time is always fully booked maybe start to say ‘no’ and do nothing occasionally. Remember to plan things you enjoy; go for a swim or leave your phone at home and take a walk in the countryside. Work/life balance may seem like a crazy, unrealistic notion at times, but there are doable ways to step back, eat well, exercise and give yourself a break. Your work will benefit as a consequence.- Staff are the next important area in your business. Hiring staff is an indicator that your business is growing and you’re doing well, but staff need to feel respected and valued in order to give their best. A tense, stressful or unappreciative environment can lead to clock-watching, absenteeism and a distinct lack of enthusiasm in their roles. Treating staff well encourages them to offer ideas, suggestions and take a pride in their work.Training is important, so that staff feel competent, confident and part of the team. Some companies even provide training in areas outside of their work-related requirements, in areas where staff may have issues, like dealing with dementia, or provide counselling for staff who are divorcing.Offering staff extras like crèche facilities, lunchtime yoga classes, free bowls of fruit or ‘fizz Fridays’ can demonstrate your desire to provide a supportive, understanding environment. A reward scheme can improve motivation. Even an ’employee of the month’ where the winner’s framed photograph is hung in reception can be enough to inspire staff to greater endeavours and promote improved loyalty.
– Customers and clients are the lifeblood of your business. A satisfied customer can be your best ambassador, reportedly enthusing about you to four people. However an unhappy customer on average tells eleven, so it’s important to find ways to treat your customers well.Monitor your customers experience of your business, either by using a Secret Shopper or by providing feedback and suggestion-box options. Be prepared to deal positively and respectfully with their comments. Value their perspective, even if you don’t agree.Schedule regular product and industry updates to support your customers’ growth. A regular mail-shot or publication could provide lots of information to advise them in their work and can also serve as a constant reminder of you, introduce them to changes in your business, acquaint them with new staff members and keep them informed about your offerings.Training courses also provide networking opportunities and establish you as important to their growth. When you introduce your customers to people with whom they can form useful alliances you will be seen as supporting their success.Taking care of the people in your business is a win/win for all concerned.