How to become an employer of choice

Michelle Moss believes in giving employees opportunities to grow.  Picture: Erik Forster
Michelle Moss believes in giving employees opportunities to grow. Picture: Erik Forster

Offering your staff opportunities to grow and giving them room to express themselves is key to employee development.

There is a range of ways to develop staff – from employee-focused programmes to encouraging social connections.

Here are five ways in which business owners can meet their employees’ needs and foster employee satisfaction:

1. Give plenty of opportunities to develop

Staff development can be done through workshops, conference attendance, and formal training and education. It can be done through providing coaching and mentoring, and it must also be done through on-the-job training.

For example: Assignments in which staff are given a project or task that “throws them into the deep end”. When working on things that are a bit beyond them, their capacity is stretched and they learn far more in this practical way than reading a textbook alone.

Spend time identifying talent in your employees. Make sure you have career or development discussions with each one to understand their needs and their goals. It is a common mistake to fast-track your best performers into leadership roles.

Perhaps these employees want to be deep specialists and have no ambition to become leaders. Perhaps the quiet graduate in the corner has a burning ambition to be a team leader, but does not know how to promote their visibility or does not know the different techniques to persuade and influence others.

2. Offer useful feedback

People like to know how they are doing. It costs nothing to give somebody useful feedback, and it is a great way to help employees develop and hone their skills on the job. Don’t wait for formal annual performance reviews to discuss this. By then it’s too late. Keep the discussion going throughout the year.

An informal but meaningful review over a cup of coffee can sometimes motivate, encourage and inspire an employee far more than ticking a list of key performance indicators during the annual performance appraisal – an exercise usually dreaded by both employees and bosses.

3. Make space for employees to be innovative

Give employees permission to dream up new ideas and different ways of doing things. Give them responsibilities and give them the freedom to make mistakes that can be turned into learning opportunities.

Everyone in the company is responsible for growing the business and serving clients, not just the CEO and sales team.

Be open to their ideas on how to do this better. Trusting your employees with this does not mean that the manager abdicates responsibility and the employee is given free rein. That would be foolish and invite all sorts of trouble. The boss still needs to keep a bird’s-eye view of what is going on, and provide advice and guidance whenever necessary to ensure ultimate success.

4. Make work meaningful

Most employees want to identify with the vision, the mission and the goals of the company they work for. As an employer, make sure these are communicated often.

Make sure they are visible and on your website, discussed during recruitment processes, evaluated during performance management – in fact, permeating all cycles of the employee’s life in the company.

Once their values are aligned with those of the employer, and the employee finds meaning and value in the work they do, the employer will have someone who is engaged, passionate, proud of their company and wanting to go the extra mile for the company and its clients.

5. Pay your employees what they are worth

Reward and recognition are still critically important in the workplace. The way in which employers reward and recognise employees comes in many different shapes and forms.

Sometimes it can be a simple thank you or a written acknowledgment for everyone in the company to see. At other times it can be increasing responsibility, a promotion, extra time off, small financial rewards like a book voucher or big financial incentives like an overseas trip with a significant other.

A fair trade is important to most people, however, and compensating employees fairly and appropriately is simply the entry ticket to obtaining their services.

Whether compensation can be used to guarantee talent attraction, motivation, job satisfaction or retention is another debate entirely.

Moss is director of assessments at Talent Africa

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