“An organization, no matter how well designed, is only as good as the people who live and work in it.” – Dee Hock
Remember when you first started your business? How many hats did you have to wear in order to get all of the work done? We’ve all seen that commercial on TV where the guy answers the phone, asks the caller to hold, then pretends to be in the customer service department. Then one day, something changed when you hired your first employee. As business owners, we all have to deal with the necessity of employees since we can’t do all of the work ourselves, and if we’re honest, we may not be the best person to do some of the specific tasks. How do you view employees and their role in your business success?
While we all keep customer satisfaction in mind when running a business, how often do we think about employee satisfaction and its impact on customer satisfaction?

We all have been to a business where the staff seems like they would rather be anywhere than their workplace. Now think about how your customers perceive your staff when they come into your business. If your staff appears to be unenthusiastic, unappreciative of customer patronage, or is unwilling to put forth their best efforts, this could be a major red flag for you.

Thinking of Employees as Expenses

Generally speaking, payroll is usually one of the largest expenditures of the company. This sometimes leads to the view of employees as an expense to be kept to a minimum since any expense reduction goes straight to the bottom line profitability of the company.

While this may seem like a great strategy for the owner since increased profitability means more money your pocket, it does lead to some challenges that should be carefully considered.
If you only give thought to what the employee costs instead of what they can contribute to the company, then you may be in danger of only hiring those people willing to work for the lowest wage for the position. The end result is that by trying to minimize the cost, you may also be compromising the quality of your company’s products.

Other employment issues such as low morale, high turnover, adherence to minimum work standards necessary to maintain employment, and lack of staff continuity and experience are a few examples of what your company could experience with this strategy.

Thinking of Employees as Investments

On the other end of the spectrum is viewing your employees as an investment in your business. By offering an employment package (wages, benefits, paid time off, etc.) that shows how much you value the employee’s contribution to your business, this should enable you to attract and retain employees for the long-term. Most of us are happy if the staff shows up and does the work, but what if the staff was happy to show up and do the work?

If you constantly think about how you can invest and improve in the staff you have, you may be surprised at the positive effects this will have on your business.
As owners, we all strive to find that elusive work-life balance, but how much time do you spend considering whether your employees have the same opportunity to achieve balance? Investing in your employees can provide unexpected intangible benefits through higher job satisfaction, improved productivity, lower turnover, lower unemployment taxes, a more consistent and cohesive team, staff continuity and other contributions to your company’s profitability.

Filling A Position vs. Building A Team

When you consider your staff needs, what do you think about?
1. What skills are needed to do the job?
2. How will this person fit into my team?

If you are like most of us, we tend to focus on employee skills instead of employee fit. We wouldn’t even consider hiring someone if they don’t have the necessary skills to do the work required, so we should be more focused on how their personality will mesh with the existing employees.

There is any number of personality evaluation systems available to help you understand not only your current staff but any potential job candidates you may be considering for hire. Since you can take the job skills requirement as given, refocus your efforts on building the right team. “People are definitely a company’s greatest asset. It doesn’t make any difference whether the product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps.” – Mary Kay Ash

In the end, employees are one of the most important factors critical to your business’ success. The wrong hiring practices can be disastrous while the right hiring practices could help move your business to the next level. Which will you choose?

Written by Greg Parker
Greg Parker’s intricate knowledge of company finances, as well as their involvement in strategic planning, has made him a highly-accomplished and sought after financial and operations trouble-shooter and business mentor.