Authored by Raquel Guarino
Few things are more awkward and uncomfortable than having a bad relationship with your employees. Not only that, but a poor employee-employer relationship can take a toll on everyone in your company--as well as your bottom line. Experts say that one mistake some companies make is overlooking the welfare of their employees and only thinking about customers. Here's what we do at Help.com to keep our employees happy, productive, and thriving.
- Listen to Your Employees
According to the Harvard Business Review, experts say that leaders need to have a strong voice but should also know when it's time to listen. At Help.com, we do our best to ensure that there's always free-flowing communication channels between employees and management. That includes implementing planned meetings and conversations and creating a company culture where it's okay to reach out even when it's not scheduled.
A few examples of planned meetings include:
- All Hands: Twice a month, the whole team has the opportunity to submit any questions or comments they may have about anything happening in the company. During the meeting, our CEO Adam reads the questions, answers them to the best of his knowledge, and then opens up the floor to the rest of the team to give their input on what was said.
- One on Ones: This is a casual, open-ended meeting between an employee and their boss; both parties can discuss any issues that may be bothering them, receive suggestions on ways to improve, and discuss/flesh out any other plans they have.
- Standup: Here, teams get together to discuss their progress, give announcements, and listen to their colleagues work. It's great time for higher-ups to listen in and understand employee dynamics, see how people work, and check in to make sure no one is being blocked or is frustrated.
It's also important to just keep in touch with your team even when it's not planned. Creating a culture where employees feel comfortable being open with you (and vice versa) is integral to your business's success. Here are a few ways to keep up impromptu communication:
- Check in: Outside of meetings, make sure you talk to your employees. Get to know them, who they are, the things they care about. Most importantly, don't neglect the little things like acknowledging them and saying hello and goodbye. A little goes a long way.
- Open Door Policy: Establish a policy that lets your employees know that you're always there in case they need to chat or have any concerns. Not only is that good for your employee; it helps you stay in the know about how your employees are doing and feeling.
2. Flatten Your Structure
Reducing hierarchy by flattening your organizational structure is a great way to empower your employees and keep them motivated. According to experts, employees working in flat organizations are more adaptable to change due to less bureaucracy. In addition, flat companies encourage more collaboration and open communication. With less hoops to jump through and fewer levels of hierarchy to gain approval from, employees become more empowered to take action and work together more openly. Not only that, a flat structure increases the flow of creativity; when more employees feel empowered to share their ideas, there is more opportunity for growth.
3. Show Compassion
The idea of compassion in leadership sometimes sounds wishy-washy, but its importance cannot be understated. Here's a few ways you can show compassion to your employees:
- Be Relatable: You might not know exactly what your employee is going through, but that doesn't mean you haven't been in a similar situation. No matter what the struggle is, it's important to make sure your employees know you're on their side. One way to do this is by talking to them about a parallel situation that you or someone you know was in and discussing how that person succeeded anyway. By being authentic with your employees, you will gain both their trust and their respect.
- Don't Overreact: Everyone is under pressure, including you, but that doesn't mean you need to blow up every time something doesn't go according to plan. Mistakes are a fact of life. Everyone's made them, including you. The important thing to remember is that how you react to mistakes will shape the culture of your office. If you overreact negatively to small issues, your employees will likely feel uncomfortable and stressed around you. Instead, reacting compassionately to different situations will earn the trust and gratitude of your employees.
4. Have Fun with Your Team
All work and no play makes a dull team. What better way to improve your relationship with your employees than by having fun? Studies show that happier employees are not only healthier, but they are absent less often than unhappy employees. In addition, having fun promotes creativity, increases employee retention, and make employees more productive. Another benefit that you may not have thought of? When an employee likes your business, they will advocate for it in and out of the office. That means promoting your company and looking out for its best interests when push comes to shove.
5. Maintain a Good Work-Life Balance
It's hard to have a successful company when everyone, including you, is running on empty. Research shows that a balance between work and life can lead to: reduced staff turnover, a happier workforce, improved health, more productivity, and increased employee loyalty. Not only is it important for your employees to have enough time for themselves outside of work, it's important for you too. When the entire team is well rested, energized, healthy, and happy, everyone wins--including your business.