On a personal level, I bet 100 percent of you agree with me that people really do matter, but are you living it every day in your businesses? Based on a recent PeopleMatter Institute survey, 40 percent of businesses do not think they do a good job engaging their hourly workforce.
While managing the stress and logistical operations of a multiple location business, it can be easy to analyze and focus on productivity, efficiency, and sales to increase profits and remain successful. Streamlining processes, reducing overhead, and creating new marketing campaigns all can help you increase profits, but only to a degree. What truly separates the "good" from the "great" businesses is their people.
Believing that your people really do matter in the workplace--and taking steps to show them how important they are to you and your business every day--will be a game changer for your company's success. During my travels and talks with business owners around the nation, I have heard countless stories that prove this theory, so many that I recently gathered them together in a book called PeopleMatter: Driving Productivity, Efficiency, and Profits Through Happier Team Members.
Take it from some of the most successful businesses out there: Your people and their level of engagement with your company will define your success. We all can improve in this area because as owners, employees, co-workers, and fellow human beings, we need to know we are valued and appreciated continuously. There are a hundred little things that you can do, starting now, to make a drastic impact on your bottom line simply by putting your people first. Guaranteed.
So, what are these things? To effectively engage and motivate your employees, you first must understand who they are and what they want. Louis Basile, CEO of Wildflower Bread Company, shared a story in the book's foreword about being a purpose- and values-driven company whose team members are self-described "Breadheads."
"Because the workforce tends to be transient and turnover is high in the restaurant industry, some companies don't believe it's worth the effort to invest in people, because those people are not going to be around long enough to see the fruits of their efforts," says Basile. "From my perspective, I feel we have to invest in people. We have a responsibility to give more than we ask to everyone who comes in contact with Wildflower."
At Wildflower, Breadheads created the company's purpose statement and work hard every day to make sure they not only serve excellent food but make a difference in someone's life. "If your team members think that their only purpose is to a flip a burger or make a sandwich the way the company wants it to be made, then I know you won't achieve the level of engagement that you want and need with today's workforce to be successful," adds Basile. "Everyone wants to be appreciated. All of us want to believe that what we do matters."
Putting people first is a different mindset than the traditional business world we know. Start with you. Be a different type of leader--one who focuses on the "why" you are in business and effectively communicate that--rather than one who focuses on the "what" your business does. Work on becoming an authentic, self-aware leader who engages in behaviors that make people believe they matter, including being open, curious, and vulnerable.
Make sure your organization has a purpose statement that inspires people and that everyone within your business knows it and understands it is important. Giving people a purpose, not just a job, will inspire their interactions with customers and each other.
The payoffs can be huge. The biggest value, however, comes from appreciating people, investing in people, and using technology as a catalyst to support your efforts. If you get the right people on your team and really take the time to understand, connect with, and develop them, you'll get greater productivity, better customer service, a more positive workplace, higher sales, lower turnover, and more repeat business. And that's just the beginning.
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