Not sure where to spend your finite employee dollars? I believe there are three buckets you should invest in and these can all be started by HR staff (caveat: you need directors/owners buy-in early!) and they are wellness, appreciation, and training-outside-the-box.
Wellness, Not a Check-the-Box Program
Employees are whole beings and they need holistic support so that they can be at their best for whatever client/customer they serve. If an employee is worried about a pandemic, their finances, caring for an older adult, overeating to manage work stress, etc, they are not going to be at their best each day. HR and organization leaders need to model healthy boundaries, self-care, emotional intelligence, and show vulnerability around how they care for themselves and share when they are not at their best. Leaders should also be educated on resources to share with their staff who might be struggling – health insurance, life insurance, and EAPs are the beginning. Create a team document with free/low cost resources for eating well, hydrating, sleeping, financial wellness, mindfulness/mediation, yoga, art, music, hobbies, and continuously add to it with employee feedback. You will create loyal employees that feel seen, heard, and cared about.
Appreciation, Different Than Recognition
On the appreciation front, I recommend you customize how you show appreciation to your staff members in a way that pleases and energizes them. I give new hires the book 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace and ask them to do the quiz in the back so I know how best to show appreciation to them. For some, they want words of appreciation delivered publicly. Others would crawl under a desk if acknowledged publicly and would much rather receive a handwritten card or a gift card to their favorite eatery. Note: Appreciation is for you ARE; Recognition is for what you DO!
Not Your Mama’s Training
Finally, most employees want continuous training and development opportunities. It is time to move past allotting a certain amount of dollars for employees to attend conferences. Poll your employees and see what they want. The virtual training options globally available now are amazing and affordable. Cross-training is no cost usually and can save money by providing emergency coverage plus it’s mentally stimulating to learn new facets of an organization. Mentoring is low cost and builds bench strength (succession plan, anyone?). And never underestimate the amount of free information through newsletters, blogs, websites, podcasts, videos and more available to self-directed learners. Employees want feedback and validation that the training they are taking and putting into action is noticed. Quarterly evaluations and weekly or bi-weekly touch bases are great places to give this feedback and suggest new/different learning goals to help an employee move up, ahead, or beyond your organization.
Focus On the Now to Support the Future
The goal now is lifetime employability, not lifetime employment. Support, nurture and invest in your employees now and you will improve our future!
What are your favorite programs? How do you nurture your employees (your most valuable asset)? I’d love to hear! Drop me a note below!