No matter the industry, your workforce is your source of power, it’s how you keep your operations moving. That’s why keeping your employees happy, inspired, and motivated is critical to the success of your business. And while a certain amount of turnover is to be expected, the more you can do to keep your staff happy and on board, the better for your workplace morale and bottom line. We sat down with Cornerstone Edge Principal, Brian Carlson, to pick his brain on what he does to optimize his workforce so it’s always running like the well-oiled machine it is. Let’s dig in!
Q: What do you believe is the best way to retain employees?
A: I’m a big believer in communicating effectively, often, and with a purpose. It’s important to provide your employees with clear direction, so there’s no mistaking what is being asked of them. It’s also extremely useful to have tools in place that can measure progress, as that data will come in handy when giving feedback. More importantly, communicating positive feedback and constructive criticism often is essential. You want your employees to know that what they’re doing is important, that you’re taking note, and that you are there to provide them guidance when needed to ensure they get it right.
As difficult as it may sound, it’s vital to interact with your team at a personal level, while maintaining a professional relationship where your leadership isn’t questioned. This is a tricky balance to strike that will be different for each individual, but it can be done.
Q: What are your best practices for communicating with employees?
A: This one is pretty simple and once you put it into practice, it will go a long way in ensuring your workforce knows where they stand. When communicating, be intentional and have a plan for what you want to discuss. Everybody’s time is valuable, so be sure you’re respectful of yours and theirs. It may also be helpful to establish policies regarding communication within the workplace.
For example, if your organization uses Slack as a collaboration tool, they can have some channels reserved for non-emergency work communication, like a channel dedicated to “Team Success”, and another one for “Where we struggle”, etc. This can serve as an open forum for management and employees alike to contribute and communicate with each other. Celebrating successes and lamenting where things went wrong with the whole team does wonders for employee morale, and builds a strong bond between the entire organization.
You can then have different channels dedicated to more serious topics, where employees can ask questions about new processes, HR concerns, or anything of the sort. Having clear and open channels of communication is a great way to optimize your workforce, as it helps your employees know their insight, suggestions, and experience is taken seriously and into consideration.
Q: What are the best ways to build on your employee’s strengths?
A: I think giving feedback backed by data is crucial in letting employees know where they are excelling, and where they may need some help. This starts with documenting all workplace successes and challenges. Having a living document of what employees have succeeded in and struggled with will allow you to have a better idea of where your organization stands as a whole, and empowers you to give actionable feedback your employees can learn from.
Training is critical, and shouldn’t happen only during on-boarding. Having periodic 10-minute refresher training sessions are really valuable! It serves as a reminder to your employees of what is expected of them, but also allows them to build confidence on what they already know. A little reinforcement goes a long way to keeping employees motivated and committed.
Q: How do breaks factor into workforce optimization?
A: Breaks allow personnel to improve their productivity levels, it’s true! Even if a team member is not physically tired, having a mental break allows them to get back to staying focused without compromising their output. While it may seem backward to enforce regular 15-minute breaks, data shows that taking frequent breaks allows the brain to better understand and retain the information its just learned.
I believe encouraging team members to take frequent and short breaks throughout the day will show them you care about their well-being, and that you see them as more than just a cog in the machine. This, in turn, will give them the time they need to regroup and get back to doing their best. It’s a win-win!
Q: What are your top three ways to keep employees motivated?
A: First off, and as simple as this sounds, setting clear and achievable expectations from day 1 is critical. When everybody knows what is expected of them, they can focus on that intention and have no doubts about where their priorities lie. Second, communicating often and effectively is vital. You want to be sure to always have an open line of communication so your employees always feel heard. And finally, never stop training. This doesn’t mean you need to take multiple days a year to retrain your staff, but having periodic training sessions and refresher meetings will help ensure everybody is on the same page and working toward the same goals.
Effective workforce optimization depends on the right blend of training, performance standards, technology, and motivation. Cornerstone Edge is here to help you optimize your workforce so you’re always putting your best foot forward. Whether you need a new Labor Management System, insight into the best compensation strategies, or help implementing new standards, systems, or processes, we can help. Reach out, and let’s see how we can make your supply chain your differentiator.