Gary Bernstein, the CEO of the Jewish Community Alliance of Northeastern Pennsylvania, shares insights on how to become an attractive employer.
Start with Management
Personnel management refers to the functions many employers refer to as human resources (HR). These are the functions HR staff perform relative to the organization’s employees. This can include recruiting, hiring, compensation and benefits, new employee orientation, training and performance evaluations. It also includes developing and implementing policies and processes to create an organized, employee- supportive work environment. Personnel management is a term used primarily in the nonprofit sector to describe the function that deals with the employment of people within an organization.
Furthermore, personnel management can be defined as obtaining, using and maintaining a satisfied workforce. It is a significant part of management concerned with employees at work and with their relationship within the organization. A sometimes-overlooked aspect of this role is the emotional welfare of the staff in the organization. Many personnel managers understand a happy, well-adjusted employee can be an asset to an organization. Depending on the size of the organization, it might be possible for one person to handle all of the role’s functions. As an organization matures, however, it might be necessary to expand from a single personnel manager to a personnel management team. Although this adds to the cost, many organizations have found watching over the well-being of their personnel ultimately benefits the organization financially.
Your Most Important Asset
There is a common saying: The customer always comes first. This is also viewed as the rule of successful management in nonprofit, as well as for-profit, organizations. This phrase is considered a bedrock principle of American entrepreneurship, but it really isn’t. However, look at the most successful organizations, and you will see customers, valued as they are, come second. To provide the best customer experience, you first have to create a great employee experience.
In actuality, organizations that deliver the highest caliber of service can tell their employees in words and actions they come first. Treating employees with respect, paying them a competitive wage and affording them opportunities for career growth, gives them the motivation to offer superior customer service day in and day out.
That is why true advocates of superior service know that unless employees come first, customers cannot rank high on the list of priorities. Therefore, they cannot be treated with the level of service they deserve and expect. That’s because disgruntled employees are a liability at best. At their worst, they are determined to get back at the organization by taking out their dissatisfaction on the customers. All the training programs in the world won’t prompt employees to cultivate member relationships unless they, too, are cultivated by leadership and can identify self-interest in helping to grow the organization. Dish out praise on Fridays.
Neil Patel, owner of KISSmetrics, a $100 million company, said “Praise at the end of the week works wonders.” He still critiques performance four days a week in order to push employees further, but he finds closing the week with an appraisal of what they’ve done well makes the following Monday productive. There is no escape from the fact happy employees translate into happy customers.
The goal is to treat employees as important members of the staff team. View your employees as your most important asset. To demonstrate your belief in them, and to bring out their best, create an open and interactive environment. Solicit ideas, accept suggestions and respond to complaints. Listen to your employees. Randi Busse, president of Workforce Development Group, said “Open communication is essential to treating employees well.” When employees have a say in the how the work environment is managed, they gain a sense of their own value. The organization benefits because employees who communicate freely can let you know what problem areas you need to address in your operation. Employees who are involved in the day-to-day of making the organization run are apt to offer the best suggestions for improving the agency.
Here are four suggestions on how to become an attractive employer:
- An effective way to get great ideas from employees is through simple observation. By just observing the ways your workers tackle certain tasks, supervisors can gain ideas.
- Using employee focus groups supports the time necessary for brainstorming and refining employees’ ideas for improving the agency.
- An employee suggestion box can operate on the same principle as an anonymous, confidential survey. Or employees can sign their names to written suggestions they place in boxes throughout the building.
- Organizations that conduct regular staff meetings can set aside time during each meeting for employee input or feedback.
Staying an Attractive Employer
When the time comes to correct or discipline an employee, try to make the point without deflating the person’s ego. Be sure you meet in private. Reward superior behavior and discipline the unpleasant. Train your department heads to be firm, but also train them to reward staff for a good job too. This reward can be as simple as praise or as important as a bonus. Teach your department heads to choose rewards according to what each staff member values. Finally, create a learning experience rather than embarrass the employee in front of their co-workers. Telling staff they are lazy or unappreciated breed’s bitterness and contempt.
Whenever possible, attempt to promote from within the organization. Internal candidates have knowledge no outside candidate can have. It’s easier to get an accurate and in-depth assessment of internal candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. Developing a policy of promoting those staff from within sends a great and motivating message to everyone in the organization. Hard work and loyalty can lead to real rewards, personal growth and enrichment.
Allow your staff the opportunity to apply and interview for jobs as you would other outside candidates. If they have the credentials and the experience, they deserve the opportunity to advance within your organization. It proves to be a great morale booster for the agency staff. They look at it like, “Wow, one of our own made it!”
There is great value to take the time to hand write personal notes to deserving staff members for demonstrating outstanding job performance. Simple gestures such as handwritten notes or email messages thanking an employee for their help in a recent project can be valuable. Create an employee of the month program where the winner receives a certificate and another prize. Examples include a premium spot in the parking lot for a month, or extra time at lunch each day for the month. Appreciation programs do not need to be expensive to work. In addition, recognizing them on their birthday or anniversary goes a long way in making them feel special.
In conclusion, an attractive employer will uphold their values, care for their staff, and encourage autonomy, self-care, and flexibility whenever possible. This includes promoting a healthy work/life balance, being understanding and respectful of your employee’s time, and creating an inclusive and fun work environment.