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Chapter 10: Human resources

They say that a happy employee is a productive employee and that a happy customer is a returning customer. Bottom line, these sayings hold a fundamental truth in them that every business should keep in mind at every stage of its business activity. Human resources, therefore, assumes a study or an understanding of the human mind and behavior. What can you do to make your customers and employees feel better and how can you do it? Alternatively, what is that would motivate your staff and make them feel satisfied to work for your business? The same question can be posed towards customers: What will make your customer return time and time again? The starting point is usually that of looking at how your organization behaves towards both categories of people. How are you motivating them and equally how are you discouraging them?

A promotional campaign is again one of the ways that you can keep both your employees and customers satisfied to be dealing not only with you but with your business. A promotional campaign helps increase the drive and motivation of your employees the same way it will ensure that your customers are satisfied. After a while of using your promotional campaign you will notice that the possibilities and benefits that you will receive in return are priceless. Additionally, making use of these products will act as a safety net to ensure the success of your campaign, will encourage team spirit, improve the rate of your sales, give your training programs a value and will increase participation and commitment, make your employees more aware of your business activities and of the fact that you will reward outstanding performance and effort on their part thereby building their morale allowing you to reach your business targets in the long run. Overall, promotional products create a positive feeling, reap higher financial rewards and ensure good workmanship on the part of your employees at the place of work of your organization. Promotional strategies will ensure that your workforce goes beyond the typical de-motivated working sector of society.

Just like the benefits of using promotional products are outstanding, there is no limit to what promotional products you should use. Let’s say you provide your employees with rewards such as imprinted badges to show a certain achievement. They will surely appreciate you taking the time to notice their effort and commitment.

All about Motivation

The starting point is that to understand and accept that very human being is able to do something about their situation because they have their own objectives, capabilities and talents.

Now, it is time to take a look at your employees. Where does each individual employee stand? Which level has he achieved? Who are the introverts and do you have any extroverts? Your task is to help each type of employee to reach the next level and to make them feel self-confident or showing them that they have the right skills or abilities they did not know they possessed or that although they knew they possess the ability to do a certain task or fulfill a certain role. You can do this by acknowledging their talents, efforts, abilities and performance. You can acknowledge all this through rewards.

Basically, you will be providing motivation from the outside which is known as extrinsic motivation which in simple words means kicking to life what your employees have hidden inside. If you regularly provide monthly rewards in the form of cash for the best performing employees of the month you will surely encourage most of your employees to give their best performance or to up the game. If an employee has certain basic needs that need to be met such as paying outstanding debts, some extra cash into their pockets will certainly provide them with the much needed motivation to carry the task asked of them in a better way than they do. Regardless of the needs of your employees, you can successfully motivate them by means of well planned recognition schemes. At the end of the day both you and your employees both stand to win.

Your employees need to be appreciated

When running a business and while investing in your human resources department you have to provide constant fuel to the psychological aspect of your workforce. As human beings your employees need to feel understood, appreciated and validated.

By now you should have taken a look at the status and performance of your workforce. If you have noticed your employees taking chronically sick leaves or reporting to work past the starting hour of their shift or even if you have repeatedly heard them provide negative feedback in relationship to any work related aspect it is time to take some real positive action. This is especially true as the existent negative approach to work can rub off on to other work employees. In addition, exemplary employees may start to feel that there is no point in keeping the good track record and their positive aspects up because other non-exemplary employees are getting away with it and they are not getting any recognition for their good effort anyway. The bottom line is that you want to improve slacking behavior and turn it to a positive input but you also want to avoid employees who have demonstrated good behavior from becoming discouraged or de-motivated. Imagine yourself in the same situation. How would you feel if you performed well on a daily basis and yet you are treated the same way as other employees who basically run their own schedule rather than that of the business they work for? Even the idea of regularly putting up with people who have no ambition could make exemplary workers ask themselves why they have to endure it. The lack of recognition of good employees will not only frustrate them but it could also be the reason why your employees’ turnover is so high.

Therefore, if you want your workforce to fully participate at the place of work and if you want to create a positive atmosphere it becomes important that you make them feel understood, appreciated and validated. But how can you do this? First of all calling a meeting and showing your true feelings about the low moral atmosphere your workers have demonstrated in their recent work history should not be an option. You will certainly need to acknowledge what they have achieved, them taking the extra mile, them setting an exemplary employee behavior to others employed in the same business, their leadership skills and the input of new ideas to the betterment of your business. Thus it is more appropriate to learn to replace your anger agenda with a good deed that will enhance the atmosphere at the workplace. Why not reward the best employee or employees out of the blue with a surprise reward or gift. Make sure that this recognition of achievement reward takes place in front of as many other employees as possible such as your regular training sessions, monthly staff meeting or activity. Plan in advance how you are going to present the award and what you are going to say to show your appreciation towards the exemplary employee’s efforts.

In the long run and a safe way to constantly show your appreciation is to make the best out of occasions and events that are important to your employees. Do provide them with a gift or reward on their graduation, them getting a driving license, your employee achieving a certain target, their contract renewal anniversary and any other social occasion that although personal to the employee concerned by awarding them an event token or gift you are showing them that you care and that you appreciate them.

Equip Your Employees

If you want your employees to perform their tasks in a better way, you will need to add on to their skills or develop them. A successful way of doing this is by providing your employees regular training sessions. These training sessions have to be goal oriented. Thus, you will need to see why you want your employees to take a certain course or to undergo a certain training session. How will the educational or vocational training benefit your employees and what do you expect to achieve in return?

So if your goal is to teach your new employees the underlying mechanisms of your business, you will provide the new recruits with an orientation training session. This orientation session should target the sector or station for which the employee will be responsible for. If you want your new trainee manager to be a successful communicator you provide him with training that helps him or her build a better communication skills. Just like with any other step in your marketing design you need firstly to establish objectives and determine what it is exactly that you want to achieve by training your employees.

There are many aspects of your workforce that as a human resources manager you can invest in. These would include courses or programs aimed at developing their skills or help them discover what they are good at; minimize administrative or secretarial mistakes or data inputting errors; to strengthen their idea on the importance of quality assurance and the organization’s overall objectives; develop their customer care skills and intuition, to increase attendance at the place of work; increase the sense of working as a team; provide them with knowledge about your products and why they are important; to develop their concentration and commitment as well as to empower your employees with new skills and knowledge among others. Whatever it is that you would like your employees to discover, learn or improve on, if the training provided is effective your employees will be able to relate further to their activities and their role in your organization. Investing in your employees is also a way to decrease the amount of workers that quit the job because you are providing them with self-worth. All the above benefits of training your employees are a sure way to ensure the increase of your rate of sales.

After writing down the objectives that you want to reach with your training program, you can now plan in detail your training session. Start drafting questions to ask your employees during the training session. These questions can also be general self explanatory questions that can further support the topic of the session and they can also be directed at the people who are running the training session for you. In that way with your questions you are ensuring that you make the most out of your training session by bringing out the points, topics and knowledge that are of utmost importance to convey to your employees in order to reach the objectives of your training programs. The importance of these questions cannot be undermined, especially the ones addressed at your employees as this is a simple mechanism through which you can ensure that they are indeed listening and absorbing the information rather than being there just because they were obliged to.

Investing in employee training is vital to your business as it makes all the difference between motivated employees as opposed to having workers that simply log in just for the wage. You will of course need to combine your workforce’s training with a promotional product incentive. This is important to you because you will lower the degree of complaints from your employees; an aspect which shows that they are unhappy or not motivated to be working at your business and you want to keep that at a minimum.

Again you will need to ask yourself whether your employees act the way they do because of something related directly to them or because the work environment does not motivate them. Ask yourself how they appeared to you when they got hired. It is quite likely that they were quite looking forward to start working for your business. So what happened along the way to change that? Did they have to face work conflicts, a surplus of work or lack of recognition for their efforts that made them start to relate to working with your business with a negative outlook? Something must have happened to bring down their morale.

So when you are facing human resources issues such as the ones explained above, your starting point should be to go through how your business operates and specifically how it deals with employees. Are you recognizing their efforts? Do all your employees get treated the same way and is the way you treat them fair? If your answers to these questions are in the positive, then your employees could do with some encouragement and cheering up on your part. If you suspect that the reason why your employees are feeling low is because they are facing too many conflicts at the place of work and somehow they exhibit constantly challenging behavior towards you and towards each other. Another factor that could be leading to these human resources issues is if you have had your hands too full to notice what was going on with your employees. Lack of team spirit is generally one of the main reasons why most workers feel low about their job. There is disagreement between the sharing of shifts and lack of communication between your employees due to fact that they work opposite shift and this renders the hand over quite a cumbersome procedure that can only lead to frustration, especially if you do not have an effective communication policy in place.

Then if there are some human resources problems it is most likely that your employees are more focused on dealing with these issues rather than reaching the targets of your business plan and this includes the increase in sales. You can counteract the human resources problem that you are facing by introducing promotional products incentives to alleviate these issues and put your employees in the right state of mind that will enable them to be more willing to pursue your business objectives and goals. This is after all the type of employee behavior that you need to promote in order to run a successful business as well as to complement your marketing campaign and make the most of it.

So you need to prepare these promotional products before each training session as you need to hand these over during or after the training session. Since these are your employees we are talking about and since you want to increase their motivation, boast their morale and up their performance your gifts should be ones of a higher value than the ones you give out to the general public. Once again, it is not enough for a promotional product to have a higher price tag but as in any other case you need to ensure that these are useful products.

Apart from preparing the content or important point that you want to bring up in a particular training session and on top of organizing promotional products, you will need to come up with ideas for ice breakers activities as well as trust exercises. The use of a ball, straws with their wrapping on and without the wrapping on or even having the straws color coded are good ways to get your employees involved. You can use the ball (ensure it is a soft ball that cannot injure any of your employees) can be used to ask them questions. Do not be the one person who is always throwing the ball around. Allow your employees to throw it around with each question. This is a sure way to ensure a random element and avoid them from feeling that they are being picked on; rather you are making them feel part of a group. The use of different color coded straws or those which have a wrapping and others that have none could for example be part of your promotional product whereby you reveal to your employees that those who have a straw with a wrapping on have won themselves a free cinema ticket or a promotional product of a higher value than the one that is going to be given to the employees whose straws do not have their wrapping on. Alternatively, you can inform employees that once they answer a question correctly after they have caught the ball they are free to select a gift from your promotional products basket. To add entertainment and make the questions’ activity more interesting, you can have wrapped gifts and other that aren’t wrapped. Once you inform your employees about the free goodies basket, they will surely eye it to investigate what it is that you are offering in it. The majority will of course have already made up their mind on the gift that they will pick up once they have answered the question right. However, the fact that another colleague can pick it up before them enhances both participation as well as interest in your training session.

Remember that not all employees have the same ambitions. While to some of them your initiative might seem exciting and makes your business look more professional in their eyes, others may find this boring, inconveniently challenging and an outright waste of time. Therefore, generating this interest in your training sessions is fundamental if you want to reach the objectives for which you have scheduled this session in the first place and this can be achieved through the use of promotional products that are well presented and taking the form of a fun activity.

Holding sessions that are both motivational as well as entertaining will reap the following benefits:

  • Your employees will pay attention to the information and knowledge provided in your training session;
  • Your objectives will be easier to reach once you have your employees cooperation;
  • The participating employees are most likely to spread the word to other non-present employees whether their absence is due to personal reasons or because they were on shift on the date set out for the training session. Promotional gifts and positive feedback from other employees will increase your workforce participation next time round you hold a training session. It will also instill in all your employees a sense of motivation as surely an employer who not only invests in their training but who also provides good quality rewards for participation is an employer that is highly motivated and is most likely to recognize their efforts at some point in time. Once again, word of mouth has brought to your business a positive domino effect making your employees talk about your latest training and the free gifts they received in return.

If like most other workplaces lack of team spirit is the main problem your employees face on a daily basis, make sure to put the employees in conflict on the same team as this helps them to work together to achieve a common goal which is mainly to win the challenge that you have set up for them. Of course the motivation is the promotional gift that you have prepared for the winner

A simple step that might make all the difference at the workplace is that you reward every participant something, even if it does not bear the same value as the main prize.

Your Post Training program approach

Now that you have implemented your training program through regular sessions to meet your business objectives you should have noticed that the atmosphere at the workplace has started to shift, especially through the brilliant invention of promotional products or gifts.

A mistake some businesses do is to see the training sessions through and they just stop at that. But this is not a wise approach to take especially when you have invested so much in your training program. Moreover, you need to keep your employees motivated and a way to do this is to remind them of what they have learnt so that it is not forgotten with the passage of time.

The right approach to make the most of your training program is to get your workers to use it as soon as the session is terminated. For example, let’s say that yesterday you held a training session that dealt with customer care and customer satisfaction services. Your employees have learnt that listening, looking smart, using the right body language and smiling will actually earn them more tips. How would you put this into practice? Will you rely solely on the hope that your employees make an effort to put into practice what they have learnt? Unfortunately, this is not enough. Again motivation plays a very important role in the successful implementation of training programs. In order to achieve this you have to think again in terms or recognition, acknowledgment and rewards. Consequently, after the training of your employees on customer care services is seen through, go ahead and launch a reward scheme or better yet a competition for excellent customer care service or for going the extra mile for customer care services. Your staff will be motivated and your customers will be satisfied through this positive experience and will either increase your sales, make them into returning customers or speak well of your business. It is a win win situation.

Now take the name or topic of the training session away and replace it with another one that represents yet another objective that you want to achieve. Follow the same reward recognition scheme principles explained above to keep on motivating your employees as well as reaching your business.