11 Put them on a jet planeEvery six months, Penta staff have a one-to-one appraisal meeting to review the previous five months’ work. The outcome of the meeting is linked to an incentive programme where the company pays for employees to go abroad. Penta says more than 60 per cent of its sales consultants qualified for the trip to Dubai this year, and retention levels have increased by nine per cent.
12 Don’t be stingyIf you’re going to the lengths of organising an away day or weekend bonding session, don’t mess it up by staying in cheap hotels. Staff at Wellingborough-based Best Deal Insurance stay at the plush Savoy in London and the Ritz in Barcelona. The company also takes it’s workers on excursions to events such as Royal Ascot and Sandown Park. Employees appreciate the high-class touch, with one noting: “The quality of the trips is exceptional and unforgettable. They are great for team building and office morale.” Staff turnover at the insurance intermediary has dropped from 40 per cent to eight per cent, while CEO David Thomson says net profit has “significantly increased”.
13 Launch lots of new productsInnovative output and staff satisfaction can be interdependent; your people will thrive on being part of a business that produces new, ground-breaking stuff. Barnsley-based family business Naylor Industries made its name in clay pipes but in 1993, 100 years after its inception, wasn’t moving forward. Fourth-generation owner Edward Naylor modernised the company, engaged its workforce and diversified to such an extent that 68 per cent of sales during 2007-08 came from new introductions to Naylor’s product line.
14 Always look on the bright side of life“Think positively,” advises Contact Recruitment’s Bawany. “In a market like this, there are always opportunities, and your senior management team has to lead by example. Young people – particularly those under the age of 25 – have never experienced a negative business environment. They’ll wonder what the hell is going on and they may not be able to cope. You have to show them what can be done, emphasise that this is a phase we’re going through and that the company will come out the other end when the market starts to improve.”15 Encourage them to develop their own creative projectsEvery employee at Madgex can use up to 15 per cent of their working year to develop their own creative project ideas and direct their own professional development. Madgex says this has helped it to recruit 19 new members of staff across various experience levels during a period of four months.16 Don’t forget about trainingOffering training to your employees is an important way of keeping staff interested in and motivated by their jobs. It’s important to continue to train people up, even when there are economic pressures to cut back. Bawany of Contact Recruitment says: “Training doesn’t have to be external; it can be held internally, and it doesn’t have to cost you a small fortune. I think the best time to train your staff is when business is slow or when the economy has taken a dip. That way, by the time things get going again, your people will be fully trained and raring to go.”
17 … but make it fun!Training courses don’t have to be a bore. The more fun you have while learning, the more you’ll absorb. Best Deal Insurance’s training programme is interactive and, the company says, is the leading reason staff stay loyal to the company. “After three months, it’s not unusual for an employee to be generating £15,000 worth of business each month but, as their training progresses, many will see this figure rise to between £25,000 and £30,000,” says chief executive, David Thomson. “Over the same period, staff are likely to see conversion rates jump from ten per cent to anything up to 50 per cent.
18 Relate staff behaviour to customer feedbackStaff at junk clearance and rubbish recycling business Any Junk” are rewarded for enthusiasm, communication and positive customer feedback. These account for half the monthly bonus pool dished out to the £2m-turnover company’s truck team. The firm’s Net Positive Ranking of customer service has improved 20 percentage points to 76 per cent since the start of the scheme, and absolute revenue from customer referrals has risen by 32 per cent over three months.
19 If times are tough, be sensitiveBryan Donkin Valves, a £5.1m-turnover valve manufacturer, went through a comprehensive change programme when it moved a division from its traditional location in Chesterfield to a purpose-built manufacturing facility eight miles down the road. Programme initiatives included one-to-one meetings with everyone affected; finding suitable employment for those made redundant; training for those in new roles and regular communication with everyone through meetings and a dedicated noticeboard. All but one of the 74 affected workers made the move and, a year on, significant productivity increases have been achieved.
20 Work with local educational establishmentsFamily-owned Fosters Bakery partnered with Sheffield Hallam University, through the government’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership Scheme, to improve its competitiveness. The scheme at Fosters, which turns over £10m, is HR-focused and has meant training and development is now a pivotal element of the business strategy. Staff are staying at Fosters for longer and are better behaved (disciplinary actions have dropped from 20 during six months in 2005–06 to five during the same period two years later).