Let’s say you own a small business. You depend on a select group of wonderful employees to make that business run, but you are still very much involved in the day-to-day operations. You want to maintain your staff and keep them happy and engaged, because you’re a great boss and you believe in your people. At the same time, you are working like a dog to get this company off the ground, and while it is profitable, there’s no room for giant compensation increases.
What to do?
We at Qocreate firmly believe in two principles when it comes to staffing. First, pay employees a highly competitive wage right from the start, because it’s fair and it leads to team loyalty. Second, always be on the lookout for ways to engage and reward your employees even when it’s not possible to hand them bonus checks.
Here are seven ways we work to keep our employees happy, and goals we have in mind as our organization grows:
Bring your team in. Whenever possible, make your team a part of important decisions. We recently became qualified to bid our own federal work, but that decision was made jointly after group and one-on-one discussions with all staff members. It’s our hope that staff members understand that their opinions are truly valued by the Qocreate leadership team. And, of course, it gives us the opportunity to see important decisions across different viewpoints. Goal: continue to do this even as the company continues to grow.
Offer transparency. At Qocreate, we share financials quarterly with all employees, and talk frankly about successes and challenges. This includes transparency about staff compensation and hiring needs. If you’ve ever worked at a place where there are questions about cashflow or staff qualifications, you know why we do this: because transparency in and of itself builds confidence in the company. Goal: always be as transparent as possible to employees, stakeholders, and clients.
When possible, let your employees follow their own interests. It’s 2018, and no one should be defined by their work title; knowing what your employees enjoy doing outside the workplace can be illuminating within. For instance, we have one employee who has shifted focus from proposal writing (a trained skill) to application development (a true passion), and another is incorporating knowledge from a decade of volunteer service into our corporate philanthropy. Goal: shape successful practice areas around employees’ knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Spend time together. Our team is spread out across the continent, we all travel frequently, and one of us lives abroad, but everyone shares an interest in reading - so we make time for a bi-monthly book club by video chat. We rotate book selection and discussion lead, which gives us an opportunity to get to know one another on a deeper level than regular work interaction provides. Goal: host an annual retreat paid for by the company.
Offer the opportunity to give back. This year, for the first time, our team is working together on a volunteer project. The project may inform a developing practice area, and participation is optional, of course. We’ve found that our team is unanimously enthusiastic about the opportunity to do good together, but if that’s not feasible, encourage individual volunteerism by allowing employees to take paid time off to serve. Goal: a robust company-wide volunteer program.
Permit a flexible schedule. We love Basecamp in part because “work can wait.” Even in a deadline-driven environment like proposal writing, there is a lot of latitude that can be offered to employees. We don’t care whether you prefer working a regular workday or through the night, as long as work gets done and there is some availability for client and team meetings during standard business hours. This literally costs Qocreate nothing, and results indicate that it may even gain us productivity. Goal: go to a fully flexed schedule for every employee (we’re almost there already!).
Encourage time off. We’ve all worked at that company which offered what seemed to be an excellent PTO package - until you actually try to take advantage of a large chunk of that time at once. Time off and away is especially important when your employees are always connected. We urge our staff to take totally unplugged vacations, or, in some cases, to mix work and pleasure so that time away can be comfortably extended. Goal: create a PTO package which encourages people to take the time off they deserve -- for example, by paying for their vacations.
As management, we are always keeping these goals in mind, and we are happy to report that we have not lost an employee in the two and a half years since Qocreate began - but we are always looking to add to our list. What innovative ways does your company keep you happy?
Interested in working with us? We are always looking for talented people with proposal, marketing, and / or project management experience. Drop us a line at email@example.com to learn more!