Maximizing Employee Talent

July 23, 2015

Businesses spend money every day...sometimes, enormous amounts of money...on employee salaries, benefits, and taxes. As with any cash outflow, a business must ensure that there is an adequate return on investment. Not to be understated, but employees are a business investment. Whether an investment is made in equipment, facilities, inventory...or employees, a return on investment (ROI) is expected.

A Company's Greatest Assets

A business can have the world's greatest product or service but without qualified and dedicated employees, it cannot prosper to its fullest potential. Certainly, a business without top-notch employees will still have sales and satisfied customers; however, growth will be limited. It takes more than just the owner to grow a long-term sustainable business.

The right choice can be made in the hiring process, but that is only the first step in maximizing employee talent. Unfortunately, small businesses are prone to not realizing the importance of what lies ahead.

Compensation

Let's not be fooled, compensation is important to everyone. It does, perhaps, become less important as one's salary increases, but compensation is an important driver for employee motivation and satisfaction.

Compensation must not only be fair, but future salary increases must be possible. The prospects of raises helps to maintain the enthusiasm that is needed to continue to produce the maximum output regardless of job position. If someone is in sales, the sales effort needs to be the best possible. If someone is an administrative assistant, no detail can be overlooked and confidentiality must be of the most importance. The same qualities hold true if someone is a warehouse employee. Assets must be safeguarded and accurate shipments made. Whatever the job title, it should be performed to the best of someone's ability.

The prospect of future compensation increases drives employees to do their best. Of course, some employees will not be driven regardless of current or future compensation. The answer to this dilemma is to rid the business of employees who have a bad attitude and are unmotivated replacing those employees with ones who want to excel in their jobs. For these employees, compensation is one of many motivators.

Along with salary increases should be routine performance reviews. Even small businesses can use reviews as a specific time to discuss job performance, advancement opportunities, and compensation. When reviews are performed at least annually (preferably more frequently than annually), employees know how their performance is being viewed by the owner or manager...no surprise when it comes to promotions, salary increases, or terminations.

Development and Training

Development and training is not automatic. It must be planned. After employees are hired, they cannot be expected to learn everything on their own. Junior employees must be mentored and developed by senior employees or the owner. The best-intentioned employee soon loses interest when there is nothing else to be learned.

Training produces better skilled employees. When this talent is leveraged, employees become more engaged, more committed, and are far more productive in their respective jobs. A business benefits by having employees who have the ability to become future managers and leaders. These employees have a tendency to stay longer with a company when they see a future developing.

Whether training is at conferences, online programs, or in-house meetings, the key is continuous learning. Investments in continuing education of employees produce positive results for a relatively small amount of money. While some businesses may think they spend too much on employee training, the majority of small businesses probably don't spend enough. Development and training benefit employees and the business. It is a winning situation for both.

Communication

Good communication is a fundamental principle that works in every business for employee satisfaction. Communication must flow up and down the chain of command. For communication to be effective, it cannot only come from the top down. Employees must feel comfortable in being able to offer suggestions, discuss frustrations, and ask work related questions with honest answers expected.

Credibility between owners and employees takes a long time to develop but can be destroyed virtually in an instant if there is an air of dishonesty and mistrust. Open door policies can help eliminate these situations from developing. When owners and managers show genuine interest in employees, camaraderie and team cohesiveness start to exist.

Maximize Talent

For every business that has employees, why not maximize the talent? When employees are treated appropriately, businesses see a high return on their talent investment.