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Can Happy Employees Equal Healthy Profits?

It is said that living by the Golden Rule – treating others as you would like to be treated – pays dividends. Can this be true in a small business work environment too? Business owners are increasingly finding that treating employees well can boost profits.

Creating a contented workforce is simply a matter of maintaining your most precious business asset. This can benefit your company in three ways. First, it lowers employee turnover, which in turn lowers new-hire training expenses and flattens learning curves. Second, a well-treated employee is often a harder working employee, one who is more apt to put in the additional hours when needed. This extra effort can also help cement relationships with your customers as they discover that your employees will do whatever it takes to get the job done. And finally, gaining a reputation as a good place to work will naturally draw higher-quality job prospects.

So how can a small business with limited resources become an attractive place to work? The first step might be to just show employees you care. Offer your workers as many tax-favored benefits as is feasible. The rules keep changing, so you will need to stay current on the latest employment perks. Your accountant can help with these benefits.

Also, monitor company morale and routinely ask for employee feedback. When good ideas come from your rank and file, give them the proper credit. And as you become aware of special situations affecting the personal lives of your employees, consider helping them beyond what is required.

Another method for retaining good employees is regular investment in training. A solid core of well-trained employees not only maximizes company effectiveness and profitability, it sends an unmistakable message that your employees have a future with your company.

Fundamental to a contented workplace is a set of fair and consistent employment policies. Establish an employee handbook of rules to work by, and apply those rules to everyone in a consistent manner. Create written job descriptions and strive to communicate expectations clearly. And when your company is headed for big changes, keep everyone as informed as possible. An old business axiom, “never create more change than you can communicate” still holds true today.

Becoming a great place to work is not just the domain of Wall Street companies. Small businesses can also create favorable work environments. It just takes a little application of the Golden Rule.

Focus on your strengths to improve profits

The conventional response to today’s lackluster economy is to focus on cutting business costs. That’s good advice up to a point, but eventually paring down becomes counter-productive. Once you’re done, you’re still stalled in the same economic doldrums.

Rather than restricting your strategy to cost-cutting, try playing to your strengths. What product, service, or other customer benefit do you offer that goes beyond the norm? Think about ways to build upon and expand that benefit, and then communicate it to current and prospective customers. If nothing you offer is out of the ordinary, improve your services or offer a new service that nobody else provides.

What makes you stand out? Look at your firm through your customers’ eyes. Why do they do business with you instead of your competitors? Is it the exceptional quality of your products or services, lower prices, peripheral services (such as delivery), your helpful and knowledgeable staff, a convenient location, or some combination of these reasons? Even if you think you already know the answer, double check with your customers. Ask what they like about doing business with you and what additional features or changes would enhance the relationship.

Play to your strengths. Once you’ve identified your customers’ wishes and preferences, focus on your strengths. Discontinue products or services that are indistinguishable from everyone else’s or that generate more problems than profits. Instead, emphasize or expand your existing areas of excellence. Promote activities that enhance productivity and/or reduce bureaucracy.

Read related posts:

Manage Your Business with a Few Key Numbers

IRS Sends Notices About “Possible Income Underreporting”

2013 Tax Changes for Businesses


(Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by StudioTempura)

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