When it comes to effective business practices, compassion isn't the first thing to spring to people's minds. If anything, when we think of successful business people, we think of ruthless individuals who are harsh, stern, get their own way and often profit at the expense of others. But while this may prove true in some cases, the opposite actually rings true when it comes to operating a small business.
Small businesses rely a lot more heavily on a content and loyal staff base than multinational firms. When businesses are just starting out, highly competent and friendly staff can make or break individual sales which are essential to get your brand out there and cement your brand’s role as a serious marketplace competitor. So, how do you go about adding a compassionate touch to your business and brand? Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started.
Understanding Why Compassion is Essential
Many authority figures in businesses mistakenly believe that putting intense pressure on employees will result in better results from their work, such as increased sales and higher annual turnovers. However, what this actually does is increase stress levels among employees, which can have extremely detrimental effects on their personal health, which in turn will have negative knock on your business.
Firstly, if you offer paid healthcare for your employees, you can look to start forking out more to cover bills for stress induced illnesses such as ulcers, heart diseases and certain mental illnesses. High levels of stress can also contribute towards tensions between workers (meaning that any expenditure on team building exercises is wasted) and higher levels of staff leaving in favor of other positions with alternative companies (resulting in increased spending on recruiting and training new staff members).
Paying a Living Wage
While most companies pay the minimum wage when possible, it is a good idea to offer every single staff member a living wage. This shows that you understand that they have bills to pay and expenses coming out and are happy to ensure that these are sufficiently covered by the salary that you are offering them. Different people may have different responsibilities and commitments to cover financially, so ensure that they are gaining a good living from their hard work.
Rewards and Incentives
If you want to go beyond the call of duty, why not consider implementing rewards schemes and incentives in the workplace? These could be varied. Positive schemes to try out could include offering a bonus for the individual who has made the most sales over the year or a monthly prize for the individual who has shown the most improvement or received the most positive reviews via customer feedback.
These types of schemes within the workplace show your gratitude towards your employees and the hard work that and dedication that they are showing in their job roles, encouraging others to follow suit of leading individuals in the business.
Offering Compassionate Leave
While it is not mandatory that you offer individuals paid leave following personal issues or bereavement, it is highly recommended. This period of leave will allow them to get back on their feet and they will be hugely grateful for it. Remember that if an individual is requesting leave for some negative life event, pushing them to work isn't going to be very productive and will simply encourage them to leave your company, spread negative vibes about the workplace or badmouth your company (which may be heard or passed on to potential customers and clients). For more information, refer to this compassion leave guide for employers.
Listening to Your Staff Members
The final piece of advice on this topic is perhaps the most important: listening to your staff members. By taking the time and effort to communicate effectively with your employees, you will learn more about them, understand their situations and figure out how to improve the workplace for them.
This may be something as simple as installing a coffee machine in the staff room or a water dispenser in an office. These small changes can make staff more comfortable, content and able to focus on their work. Seemingly minor complaints concerning workload or standard protocol can help you to adjust job roles, responsibilities and other areas of your business to ensure that everyone is getting the most out of their experience within your company.
Following these simple steps can help you to become a more compassionate and empathetic employer who workers will warm to, appreciate their job and work at their highest ability.