In this economy, it’s easy to think that the employer always has the upper hand. But employers still need to make sure they’re presenting an image that’s appealing, both to job seekers and to current employees.
While character is what you do when no one’s looking, company character is what you do when everyone wants a job. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Here are three ways you can make sure your company stays classy in these trying times:
1. Give the Kind of Perks You Wish You’d Had 20 Years Ago — But Ask for the Performance You Were Giving, Too
It’s completely understandable that dropping $5K on treadmill desks for every employee isn’t all that appealing. But perks like reimbursable education, onsite childcare and company lunches or snacks can be life-changing — literally — for your employees. And if it’s a tax writeoff for you, all the better.
While it’s your turn to be generous, it’s also your turn to be demanding. So set the bar and ask your employees for the kind of performance you used to give, which brought you to the top. Exchanging hard work and high performance with life-changing and life-easing perks makes for a successful company and a happy employee. And unhappy employees leave.
Keep it classy: Google and Hootsuite don’t have to be the only high-performing companies with high-level perks. Make a list of things you used to wish for as an employee, and the ways you showed your hard work. Bring these items to your HR and C-level team and ask for feedback on how to make it happen.
2. Give Employees a Reason to Be Excited About Growth
Is your company doubling or tripling its revenue (or more) yet still fighting a morale problem? It’s because you’re not being classy about it and your employees don’t care if you grow.
It’s like the classic Dilbert comic in which the CEO presents his state of the union address with the opening line, “I’d like to thank you all for making me very rich.” We don’t have to wonder how much work got done that day in the fictional office, but in the real world, the results are much the same.
If your employees get paid the same (or less, in the case of government employees) whether you grow or plateau, it would take a very generous person indeed to be excited for your company. More likely, that person will ask for more money or leave.
Keep it classy: Consider profit sharing or establishing generous yearly raises (tied to company growth, of course). Worried you’ll be rewarding people who aren’t working hard? Fire those people. Attract winners, grow with winners and reward winners, or you’ll be a company of losers.
3. Put Time into Relationships — Even If You Have to Fake It
Yes, you’re a busy go-getter CEO with no time for keeping up with your company roster. But does that mean you don’t care who’s making your company successful? From administrative to payroll, the people you see every day are making your company happen for you. If you’re growing that quickly, congratulations! But it’s no excuse to disregard or ignore your employees.
I speak from experience — I’ve witnessed HR managers who had no idea what an employee had been doing for months, and CEOs who laughed off mispronouncing or flat-out not knowing an employee’s name. And while it was obviously a punchline to them, it was hurtful and memorable to the employee who was moving on. And that’s the worst kind of last impression to make.
Keep it classy: In between high-powered meetings and jetting off to the tropics, take a moment to remember what it was like to be an employee. Not only will this help you keep your employees in mind, but it has the added benefit of helping you appreciate how far you’ve come. If names don’t come easy to you, practice a few friendly responses that are still personal. Never laugh off not knowing someone’s name — you’re the only one who will think it’s funny.
Is your company keeping it classy? How can you improve your company character?
Sarah Greesonbach is a former teacher turned content and new media specialist who blogs at Life [Comma] Etc about simple food, better relationships and more money for everyone. If you want more of any of that, connect with her on Twitter @AwYeahSarah or get help with your company blog and website at Greesonbach Creative.