Getting your people hooked on the company

May 05, 2008

Turnover is costly. All of the human resources experts can tell you that— some could even give you the real cost of turnover for any specific position to the penny if you wanted it! Staff demotivation is costly, too. Having people who are there, on the job, but who act like zombies, is a real cancer. It, too, spreads like a disease throughout the company, killing morale and productivity. These are but two of the many reasons you should be thinking about how to hook your people on the company. If they are “hooked,” they will get there earlier and stay later. They’ll be working diligently under your roof instead of leaving to join a competitor or start their own business. And they will be more productive, care more about their work, and be good role models for everyone who works around them. It’s a worthwhile (but not simple!) undertaking to try to hook your people on the company. How can you do this? There are many tactics available to you… Participatory business planning. People will always be more committed and connected in firms that involve them in the business planning process. This is contrasted with those companies that simply inform their employees what the goals will be for the coming year. It’s just common sense— let everyone put their two cents in regarding the plan. Real care and concern for people as individuals. This means you have to demonstrate you care. Make some exceptions on sick leave if there’s a critical situation. Show up at the hospital to check on a sick family member. Make a real effort to find out what training someone wants and needs and give it to them. Again, these things are usually easy to do and really help hook people on the company. Taking the high road ethically every time. People want to be proud of where they work and the people they work with. So make sure your firm always takes the ethical “high road” every time there’s a choice. No bribes, no unnecessary lawsuits, no cutting people for the wrong reasons. Sharing profits. This is not the same as “profit sharing.” Profit sharing is paid once a year at year end and goes into the employees’ retirement accounts. Most of the time, this makes little difference when it comes to hooking employees on the company. What does work, however, is sharing the profits, with everyone, on a frequent basis— say monthly. Fix the percentage that will be paid out once a year and then follow through, paying the money out every month. See if some more people don’t get hooked on the company! Sharing ownership. In the A/E business world, being an owner is a big deal, and expected by a certain number of people. It is one way to hook people. Many companies understand that they can pay less in the way of salaries and benefits but sell a certain amount of stock to their people and come out ahead in terms of commitment, longevity, and motivation level of these “hooked” employees. Being a brand name in the market(s) you serve. Marketing is a critical way to hook employees. If your marketing is strong enough, employees feel secure in knowing they will have plenty of high-quality projects to work on for good clients. Their egos will be gratified, too, by everyone knowing their company the moment its name comes up. Communicate with the families of your employees. Hook the employees by hooking their families. Send company marketing materials directly to their homes. Send notes through the mail. Send gifts that the whole family can use and enjoy so you can hook them on the company. Have lots of group activities. Sometimes too many picnics and company parties can be a chore. But to get your people hooked on the company you have to do a lot together. It’s just like a family— it’s hard to have a close one if you never do anything together. One final point— hooking your employees should not be an attempt to manipulate them. People aren’t stupid— they’ll see through it. You have to have their best intentions at heart and when you win their hearts, you’ll hook ‘em on the company. Originally published 5/5/2008

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.