Employee Development: It’s Worth Your Time (and Money)

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Employee Development: It’s Worth Your Time (and Money)

Professional development training provides a three-fold benefit for your company. First, it can work as an added benefit for hourly employees examining the pros of working for your business. Second, it creates a pool of in-house talent when promotions become available. Third, professional development is an employee retention tool that should not be overlooked.

Training opportunities attract motivated, career oriented candidates to your organization. A culture of ongoing learning serves as an added benefit for hourly employees whose benefits package differs from that of salaried employees. The opportunity to receive training, attend seminars, or offset the cost of additional education is a positive factor for candidates seeking to grow professionally. Including your company’s commitment to employee development in job postings and during interviews serves to highlight the value you place on employees. Making a commitment to their learning demonstrates your support of their career goals.

This support also comes in the form of employee advancement within the organization. In-house promotions create a culture of loyalty, decreases turnover rate, and improves the reputation of the company. Hiring from within lowers the loss of productivity and revenue associated with bringing in an outsider. Offering development training ensures that employees remain knowledgeable about their jobs and industry trends. A company that known for having knowledgeable, skilled, well-trained employees is an asset for clients. Your employees can be trusted to offer sound, reliable advice and excellent customer service. Providing opportunities for staff to take on added responsibility keeps them engaged over time.

In any economy, the option of a long-term career with prospects of advancement is a key to employee retention rate. Demonstrating value through offering tools for professional, and even personal, growth will cause employees to refer skilled peers for open positions strengthening your organization. Motivated employees require less supervision and form a strong workforce within any industry.

Employee development proactively prepares executive leadership for future growth and change. Are there current employees who are on track to becoming future senior managers? Investing in those individuals through training and development prepares your company to remain intact after the transition of current senior leaders and directors. Ongoing training reveals the strengths and weaknesses of each employee allowing managers to effectively build their teams. Executives can utilize this insight when considering the future leaders of the company.

Offering access to professional seminars, reimbursing for required licenses or paying a part of tuition costs are great ways to show employees that you care about their future. The financial cost of offering trainings will inevitably be offset by the return on investment gained from a loyal employee who can grow as your company grows. To increase retention, promote longevity, and decrease transition times support the career goals of employees. Investing in your employees is investing in your company. Valued employees are loyal employees.

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Maximize Your Summer Hiring

According to a new survey by CareerBuilder, 49% of employers are planning to hire summer employees. Of those, 79% said they would consider summer staff for long-term positions. For business owners taking the long view, the employee onboarding and training process is even more crucial.

By providing a more extensive training at time of hire, those summer employees who stay on will already be prepped and able to make a seamless transition. It is also a more cost-effective solution as it prevents internal or external personnel from conducting two training sessions within three month of each other. The 2016 Training Industry Report indicates that, on average, the training budget for small business was $236,270. The average cost per employee was $1,052.

As we shared in the November blog on holiday hiring, the training and onboarding of short-term staff is just as critical as that of year round employees. No matter how long a new hire intends to be with the company, every day they represent the values your company stands for. By providing more care during the training process, employees are more likely to treat your customers with the care they have come to expect from your organization.

New employee training should include more than just internal procedures and introduction to software. Your employee training should also include the mission and vision of the company and the foundational values of your organization. Effective training balances the company’s employment need with the client’s need in a way that enhances the skill set of each trainee.

A summer employee is more than just a warm body to fill a slot. They represent your company, your brand in front of your clients. With the right training and onboarding experience they could very well become a long term asset.

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Loving Unlovable Customers

We’ve all heard the phrases “Kill ‘em with kindness” and “It’s easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar”. But how do we put that into play during an interaction with a customer that is not easy to work with? These simple tips on how to show love to your customers (during positive and not so positive interactions) will help you and your service team keep the love flowing all year round.

  • Service with a smile. A warm and friendly smile speaks volumes. A smile conveys openness, approachability and a willingness to assist. It is the first of many ice breakers your clients may need to turn their day around and leave in a better mood. A smile even carries across phone lines. When you smile your tone of voice and disposition changes. A genuine smile will help to ease any tension from the client.
  • Don’t take it personal. We’ve all had stressful days when everything seemed to be against us and we felt as though we couldn’t catch a break. When you find yourself with a customer who seems to be a Negative Ned/Nancy, remain calm and professional in your body language and tone of voice. Remember, if your customer does become rude or disrespectful it is appropriate to turn the interaction over to a colleague or manager after doing all you can to diffuse the situation, per company protocol.
  • Try to make it better, but don’t force it. One of your greatest assets as a customer service professional is people skills. Your ability to read people and intuitively interpret how best to approach them is what will cause you to stand out in your field. Once you’ve gotten a sense of your customer’s disposition consider adding an approved bonus for their purchase or interest in your service. Unexpected freebies are a great way to show appreciation and brighten someone’s day.
  • Mind your P’s ad Qs. Please and thank you seem to have gone away with the introduction of emojis and texting. Common courtesy and good manners will go a long way in the journey to show love to your customers. A simple greeting of Hello, Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening; using Sir or Ma’am; and making eye contact will show your client the respect they deserve as a voluntary patron of your establishment. When making a request for information from your client include please and say thank you. At the end of your service, thank them for coming to the store or calling the customer service line. Wish them a good day.
  • Become interested in what they’re interested in. Spend time getting to know your customers who come in on a regular basis. Listen to their stories, find out about their lives outside of their time at your business. If they’re having something special coming up remember to ask them about it when you see them again. If their grandkids are interested in a sport or hobby, consider taking time to find out about local venues or upcoming events. Sharing this information with your customer will show that you are listening and you care.

Working in customer service can be a demanding position, but most often it is rewarding. There will be days when we have to create those opportunities for reward by our actions and responses to customers. Taking the time to show that you love them in spite of their crabby attitudes will leave a lasting impression. In the end, one old adage remains true treat others the way you would like to be treated.

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Employee Appreciation Ideas

oct-blogCustomer Service Week was recognized during the first week of October. If you missed it, not to worry. We’ve compiled a list of things you can still do to show your employees that you appreciate them. Taking time to show your employees that you are grateful for their service raises employee engagement, retention, and efficiency. Here are some fun ideas to include in your employee appreciation methods:

Craft style gifts can be created in advance. These are ideal for small tokens of appreciation and as group appreciation items.

  1. Food gifts with quirky tags, such as “You’re a lifesaver” (Lifesavers), “You deserve a break” (Kit Kat bar), or “Donut know what we’d do without you” (Dunkin’ Donuts).
  2. Design buttons or decorative knickknacks, with sayings like “My Boss Thinks I’m Kind of a Big Deal.”

Monetary gifts may be appropriate for individual employees who have shown promise, leadership, and the willingness to go above and beyond their job title. It can also be used as a gift after promotion, creating an incentive for all employees to go the extra mile.

  1. Gift cards to favored stores or online retailers, like Starbucks or Amazon.com.
  2. Tickets to a movie theatre, local sporting event, or local attraction for them and their families.
  3. Create an internal reward system where employees can earn tickets, which can be redeemed for major prizes ranging from cash to extended vacation time.
  4. Provide employees gift certificates to a professional cleaning service for their home or vehicle.

Offer employees the chance to unwind and get away from the office, while increasing their professional experience.

  1. Send them on a business retreat that involves time for training and time for relaxation.
  2. Offer paid tuition to industry-related courses.
  3. Free passes to attend national or international conferences related to your industry.
  4. All expense paid trip to a regional lecture presented by well-regarded professionals or industry experts.

Finally, and most importantly, don’t assume that employees understand how much they are appreciated. Let them know regularly!

  1. Tell your employees that you appreciate them — in meetings, in the halls, at the end of the week, whenever!

Remember, you don’t need to wait for Employee Appreciation Day to recognize employees. Consistently showing employees they’re appreciated boosts morale and increases workplace effectiveness year round.

You can read more about Employee Appreciation on CultureIQ.