It’s often said that a happy workforce is a productive workforce. It’s a view that mega-successful entrepreneur Richard Branson often talks about in his speeches and blogs, and for good reason. A lack of work-life balance is cited by many employees as their reason for leaving a workplace.
But, while important, being a good employer is about more than simply making your employees happy. Everyone who works for you has to feel safe, secure, sure of what’s expected of them and confident that they’re being treated fairly. Here are just 10 of the mistakes that employers regularly make with their staff, and how to avoid them.
Top 10 Mistakes that Employers Make with their Employees
Providing more negative than positive feedback
It’s all too easy to pick up on an issue when you feel a member of staff hasn’t performed as they should. And, while it’s important to let an employee know when their work isn’t up to scratch, it’s also essential to focus on what your staff do right. By giving praise where praise is due, your staff will know when they’re on the right lines, they’ll be able to emulate that desired action in the future, and they’ll feel happy that their hard work has been recognized.
Letting your ego get in the way
Some leaders can feel threatened by ambitious staff they believe are snapping at their heels. They end up taking credit for an employee’s idea or being afraid to delegate management tasks for fear of being overshadowed. But, a good leader won’t be afraid to surround themselves with staff who have skills they may lack, meaning the whole team will be better rounded. They also won’t be afraid to delegate some power to capable employees, giving them the chance to focus more on the company’s vision and aims.
Offering a chance to resign
There’s no getting around the fact that everyone makes mistakes. If you’ve employed someone who simply isn’t up to the job, then proper procedures must be followed when it comes to dismissal. It’s no good thinking if you offer them the chance to resign and they take it, then that’s your problem solved. An employee may go on to claim they felt they had no choice but to resign and start a tribunal claim for constructive unfair dismissal.
Not giving employees the chance to improve
An employer who wants to dismiss a particular employee because of poor performance must give them the chance to improve their standards. Part of the proper dismissal procedure is to make sure an employee understands exactly where they are going wrong, to tell them what you expect them to do to change that and to give them both the opportunity and support to improve. Only when they still fail to meet the realistic targets you have set them, is it fair to dismiss.
Rewarding busy fools
It can be difficult to keep track of exactly what work your employees are doing, particularly if you run a large company, so you need to make sure you have processes in place so you can check whether targets are being met. Otherwise, it’s easy to think the person who appears to be the busiest, or who is working the most hours is the one getting results. But they may not be the ones who make the most impact or are the most productive.
Once upon a time everyone worked 9-5pm, but that’s not the way the world works anymore. If you find that really is what is best for your company, fine. But don’t close your mind to other possibilities. By allowing staff to work flexi-time, you may find you have a win-win situation. Your employees will be happier and therefore more productive. It may also mean that your company has staff available for clients to contact at later or more convenient hours.
Skimping on salary
While no one would suggest paying your staff over the odds, it’s important not to pay them less than they are worth. You may save in the short term, but your employees will soon be looking for the next stepping stone. Then you will be facing the costs associated with hiring new staff, with all the HR implications and time spent sifting through CVs and interviewing potential candidates.
Setting unclear goals
Being a good employer is a little like being a good parent. You need to set clear goals so your employees know exactly what is expected of them and what the repercussions are if they don’t deliver. Employees can only be truly productive if they know exactly what the company goals and vision are. If they don’t, you’ll find staff may put in effort that is wasted and ineffective.
Not keeping an open mind
If allegations are brought to you by a trusted member of staff about an employee or you feel it’s obvious to everyone that misconduct has taken place, you may think an immediate decision to dismiss is appropriate. But you always need to conduct a proper investigation to find out all you can about the circumstances surrounding the misconduct and you need to give the employee in question the opportunity to put their side of the story forward.
Not keeping up-to-date with employment law
Just like any other area of the law, employment law changes with time and it’s important to stay up-to-date. In recent years, there have been changes relating to unfair dismissal claims, sick pay, holiday pay, flexible working and pensions arrangements. It’s important that you don’t just concentrate on training for you staff, although that’s clearly vital, but that you train yourself too. Make sure you organise expert sessions so you’re always up-to-date with what is expected from you as an employer.
By making sure you know what the potential pitfalls are as an employer, you can avoid them.