Paying your workers well plays a big role in keeping them happy, but a fat paycheck and generous perks only go so far. Cultivating a positive company culture doesn't just make the atmosphere at work more pleasant. It can have a positive impact on your bottom line by reducing turnover. Best of all, many of the most effective strategies to reduce turnover involve little or no financial investment.
Adopt an Open-Door Policy
Even in the best-run companies, there is often room for improvement. Especially in customer facing-industries such as HVAC, your company’s technicians and others who deal with customers on a daily basis often have valuable insights about customer preferences and potential challenges. Allowing and even encouraging your workers to provide input and suggestions gives them a sense of investment in the company. At the same time, the company gains beneficial information that can potentially have a positive effect on the bottom line. In other words – a mutual win-win situation.
Supply Positive Feedback along with Constructive Criticism
While it’s true that shortcomings in performance or behavior that violates company standards must be addressed (usually sooner rather than later), few people respond well to being subjected to constant criticism. If your workers have the impression that nothing they do will ever be quite good enough, they’ll be much less likely to put forth more than minimal effort – much less go above and beyond.
Provide Workers What they Need
On the surface, it seems obvious that workers should have the necessary tools to do their jobs. However, many companies operate with the expectation that their employees must “do more with less.” While it’s understandable to want to operate your company efficiently and even frugally, it’s penny wise and pound foolish to expect your workers to perform well with outdated equipment and tools that are not up to the task.
Likewise, there are few circumstances more frustrating than being expected to execute tasks without being provided the autonomy to carry them out. Ensure your workers that they won’t be penalized for exercising their own judgment in handling situations that are clearly within their areas of training and expertise.
On the other hand, it’s also frustrating to be given orders without clear instructions on how to execute them or support to deal with challenges. Having set policies and procedures in place goes a long way in avoiding such situations. Managers should communicate regularly with workers about their assignments, and be prepared to provide guidance when needed.
Offer Opportunity for Advancement
Few people are satisfied with the prospect of performing the same mundane tasks with no opportunity for promotion. By providing training opportunities as well as prospects for advancement, you send a signal to your workers that you value them and their contributions. Your company also benefits by having highly skilled, seasoned workers on board to handle complex assignments, which enhances your company’s status with existing and potential customers and clients. Finally, having seasoned, well qualified employees on board provide ready-made mentors for newer, younger workers.
Encourage Adequate Rest and Work-Life Balance
If your workers love their jobs and don’t mind putting in extra hours, that’s great. However, encouraging healthy work-life balance is still essential. Well rested, refreshed employees work more efficiently. By contrast, employees who continually neglect the need to take time off are more prone to burnout. Even worse, depending on the laws of your state, your company may be liable for adverse legal action for failing to provide adequate breaks and meal periods for its workers.
This doesn’t mean you that employees shouldn’t be willing to handle an occasional rush job or cover for a sick colleague. However, in too many companies, workers are discouraged from taking needed down time during the day, or pressured into cutting short or even forgoing vacations. While many employees may put up with such conditions when jobs are scarce, this is not the case during periods where qualified employees are in short supply.
Promote a Clear Company Mission
Why are you in business? Of course, you want to make money, but if your company’s mission extends no further than the bottom line, you’ll find it difficult to attract and retain dedicated employees. Instead, emphasize the strengths that make your company stand out from the competition, such as outstanding customer service or state-of-the-art equipment and procedures. Make it clear to your employees that they play a vital role in promoting your company’s mission as well.