As a business owner concerned with growth, you should seriously consider an inside-out approach to growing your business. This means investing in the people on the inside who can help your business blossom. Focusing on your employees will save you money, increase your innovative possibilities, and provide you with positive advertising.
Consider 3 big reasons to prioritize your employees as part of your inside-out strategy to growing your business:
1. Retaining and training employees is cheaper than hiring new ones
If you’re smart, you’ve already calculated the direct and indirect cost of screening, interviewing, hiring, and training new employees. Employee turnover is expensive (about 20% of an employee’s annual income). Devoting time and resources to ensure your employees are competent, invested, and well-compensated is worthwhile. Bad apples do need to be plucked off, but in general, you’ll benefit from keeping people on board.
A recent poll in the Gallup Business Journal showed that, aside from better opportunities for career advancement, employees primarily leave their jobs because they are unsatisfied with pay or benefits, feel they fit their roles poorly, are unhappy with a supervisor, or feel the company lacks vision. Don’t be that company!
There are a myriad of ways to retain employees–let’s consider two that are frequently overlooked.
First, compensate your employees well. JDawgs is a remarkable hotdog restaurant that grew out of a small, red shack into a booming business with four locations in Utah valley. The restaurant was started by a college senior majoring in Asian studies—not business—and the menu offers only two choices: polish or beef hotdog. So what’s the beef?
According to JDawgs young founder, Jayson Edwards, the employees are the reason his idea has become an ever-growing success. Early on, he saw his employees as fellow students and paid them well for their simple work. Reviews of JDawgs sing praises of the “friendly environment” and “cheerful employees.” Though hotdog servers could arguably earn minimum wage, Edwards’s resolve to provide competitive pay obviously paid off.
If you don’t think you can afford to pay your best employees more, reconsider the costs of losing them.
Second, get the right coach. Legendary quarterback Bart Starr led the Greenbay Packers to win the first two Super Bowls, but his iconic performance on the field didn’t equate to impressive coaching. In nine seasons as Green Bay’s head coach, he only posted two winning campaigns and only had one postseason appearance. Starr was finally dismissed as head coach after the team lost its chance at the playoffs in 1983.
As Starr’s example illustrates, a talented worker who is an inexperienced leader can cause the whole team to struggle. When developing your employees’ knowledge and skills, never assume one of your experts will be the perfect trainer or manager. The best performers are not always the best leaders.
Only quality trainers and leaders will help employees excel in their work and discover how their unique talents “fit” their job description. Prepare your trainers and managers with the right information and resources to lead others well.
Invest in your employee paychecks and training and your employees will stick around—saving you money that can be better spent elsewhere.
2. Employees can be intrepreneurs who inspire innovation and improvements
Inside-out growth is also facilitated by employee intrapreneurship. Make every employee a key player and think of employees as customers. You can’t assume that your employees will automatically buy into your product, service, or mission just because you hired them. Help each employee become a proud partner of and competent contributor to your business and your employees will feel inspired to develop and share their good ideas.
Willingly recognize and test good ideas when they come. At the Massachusetts Department of Correction, a guard casually suggested that instead of printing and storing film pictures the old-fashioned way, they could use digital cameras and a database. Though the idea was not “ingenious,” those managing the department ran with it. In the first year of implementation, the Massachusetts Department of Correction saved $56,000 and avoided the headache of developing, sorting, and filing printed images.
Here’s another example: Scientist Spencer Silver was working at 3M to create a strong adhesive for aerospace technology. On accident, he produced a light adhesive—less sticky than Elmer’s glue—that gripped surfaces but was easily removed and left no residue. Initially, managers at 3M did not see any profitable use in Silver’s “mistake,” and they shelved the adhesive for nearly twelve years.
Then, thanks to a curious and supportive new manager, one of Silver’s colleagues had the opportunity to experiment with the adhesive and eventually discovered a practical use for it. Today, Post-it notes are a staple in offices and homes. Nearly 50 billion Post-it notes are sold every year. These colorful pads of sticky paper produce $1 billion annually for 3M. Perhaps 3M’s only regret is not discovering a clever use for the adhesive sooner.
Your employees can—in simple or bizarre ways—bring about great advancements to your business. Instill within them the vision of where you’re headed and listen to their suggestions. Your business will profit as you take advantage of your employees’ ideas.
3. Your employees will advertise for you (like it or not)
What your employees say about your business will help or hurt you. The Federal Trade Commission has guidelines that warn employers against incentivizing employee endorsements online. Still, your employees will inevitably talk about your business online or in person to friends, family, and associates. Their purpose will be to praise or to vent. Websites like Glassdoor and Indeed further allow employees to post reviews of their experience working with your company. Don’t think your target audience won’t hear about you.
Just as important as what employees say is how their attitude reflects on your business. Recently I visited the mall to exchange a clothing item. I was the only person in line, but the girl behind the counter looked bothered when I showed up. She asked her coworker in a pouty tone, “Can you help this lady? I wanted to take a break five minutes ago.” The other girl rolled her eyes, stopped organizing a pile of clothes, and in an equally grumpy tone answered, “I guess.”
Both associates were visibly inconvenienced by my presence and certainly didn’t care about their role as the “face” of the company. Their rude indifference spoke volumes about the company—specifically, that these employees were never trained in politeness 101, were disinterested in the company cause, and obviously didn’t enjoy their work. What do your employees’ words and attitudes say about your business?
Remember, growing a business from the inside-out requires that you don’t overlook the impact of employees. Regardless of your business’s size, product, services, or revenue, employees play a key role in the success (or downfall) of your business. Take care of your employees and they will go out of their way to build your business.