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Posted: November 16, 2011

Three keys to doing more with less

You can win the budget war - and create happy employees

Steve Sorensen

Have these thoughts ever run through your mind?

1. Our people are tired and beat up, how can we expect them to do more?
2. Our budget seems to evaporate before our eyes. How can reenergize our workforce without spending more money?
3. Things are a blur around here, how can we stabilize and move forward as a team?
4. We're tried lots of training programs and they don't seem to produce lasting results.
5. We just don't have time for another "flavor of the" initiative.

We have a saying within our company: "Happy employees create happy customers." Loyal customers spend more, pay higher rates and refer you to other quality customers. Happy employees are engaged and productive. They improve our revenue both top line and bottom line.

Unhappy employees create unhappy customers. This customers will not only leave you but will tell the world why and rest assured kick your company under the bus every chance they get. Unhappy employees undermine the organization at every turn, cost a fortune in budget, require damage control and produce brain pain. They negatively impact top line and bottom line.

Here are the three steps to get off the "program de jour treadmill", reenergize your workforce, keep your best and brightest and save money.

1. 80 percent of workers say they will stay at their job if they believe they have a friend at work. How simple is that? The answer, programs centered on actually building teams. It appears that companies adopt two styles of training, neither of which are effective.

Mistake #1, they bring all of their people in for a week and spend huge sums of money on airfare, hotels, etc. That's great if you have a boundless budget (I haven't seen one of those in awhile) but it's not the best use of company resource. Esprit de corps doesn't happen in a week, nor do people learn business skill sets without living the process.

The second mistake is the dreaded mandatory cafeteria training. This is when a company stuffs everyone into the cafeteria/lunchroom/ conference room on Friday afternoon someone wave's the magic training wand with the hope everyone will show up Monday morning filled with awe to be working for this company.

You can spend money on training and development your people or on turnover...it's your call. Done properly training and people development is by far the greatest tool to improve workforce stability and longevity. However it must be done with dynamic, repetitive learning programs that are interactive, employ multiple learning mediums and are implemented over a longer time horizon.

Workers actively participate in training, implement the information provided and report cause and effect to the group during the next training session....everyone learns from hands on experience...the learning then becomes manifest. This provides a closed loop methodology with real life learning.

This learning creates life/business experience, improves morale and builds solutions focused teams within your organization.
If you buying training out of a catalog: Shame on you! Stop right now! There are training programs that are affordable and provide real value based on your companies specific needs and strategy.

Providing the proper tools for your workers is a direct line to higher productivity, retaining the best and brightest and establishing esprit de corps that will prosper in every economy.

2. Are pre- and post-hire assessments a cost or an investment? It's within the eye of the beholder. Given the extremely affordable price of assessments versus the cost of turnover I believe makes a great investment. Simple math says that when a fully loaded worker at $50,000 per annum leaves, the cost to the organization is 3x or $150,000. Is it worth spending somewhere between $250 to $1000 dollars to save $150,000?

Assessment tools and programs have evolved to exacting science, a far cry from when I started hiring and did the ole "gut check" with my hires. ( I often wonder about the amount of money I could have saved if I had these tools in my toolbox back when.)
Additionally good assessments provide insight into the specifics of how to motivate your workers...think of it as a roadmap showing you the way to better productivity and interactions. For new hires, assessments reveal an individual's topography for a higher percentage of success within your organization, weeds out the folks that will be happier doing something else and generally provides a better chance of winning the hiring challenge. End result equates to cost savings that are off the chart. ROI proven, time and again.

3. The priceless gift we provide our workers: to be listened to, and most importantly, to be heard. Workers stay longer, produce more and are happier when they are providing value, recognized for their contributions and have a voice in building culture.

Our workers are our most important asset, the one asset that can immediately drive higher revenues and higher customer satisfaction. They have the knowledge on how to improve processes, create market driving products and how to best engage customers. Why not listen to what they have to say with a cultural audit? Think of this as the organizational 360 assessment which is meant to provide a snapshot of the state of the company. It also uncovers ways to improve and enhance your strategy and initiatives through the hearts and minds of your workforce.

Why a cultural audit and not another tired old survey of collecting score of one to ten? Much like training, surveys can be off the shelf and worthless...perhaps even counterproductive. To get the organizational x-ray one performs a cultural audit. Any information received from your workers both positive and negative provides a catalyst for improvement.

They are designed to be a living instrument and not another static data point like surveys. Audits are to be performed at a minimum annually. Action steps taken from the audit are measured for results and processes are then enhanced or eliminated due to their ability and defined by organizational strategy.

The result: Workers help your organization become the employer of choice, saving big on recruitment costs, hiring more efficiently and best of all, cost savings due to a stable workforce/low turnover.

Organizations must proactively listen to the heartbeat of their workforce. How you nurture your workers is the difference between happy customers and unhappy customers, high turnover costs or a stable, productive teams, high performance organizations and struggling companies.
The three steps outlined are ways to win big without hitting the budget. As a matter of fact these programs with save you thousands or millions simply by reducing turnover. Happier workers, happier customers and reduced turnover.
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Steve Sorensen has spent more than 30 years helping companies achieve a competitive advantage by improving their sales strategy. Steve's experience includes Vice-President of a Fortune 500 company, Manager of Corporate Accounts for a Fortune 500 company and Western States/Western Canada Regional Sales Manager. As president of Enlighten-360, LLC, Steve uses his wealth of experience to help companies achieve increased revenue and velocity of growth through improved sales strategies. He can be reached at 720.343.0033 or steve@Enlighten360.com.

 

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