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How to rev up your staff

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1 Give them the latest and greatest technologyYou’ll boost morale and  up productivity. Cambridgeshire-based telemarketing agency Blue Donkey discovered this when it introduced a bespoke call-logging system in 2007. The system saves employees up to 30 minutes on admin a day, client reporting and staff retention have improved, and profits have increased from £300,000 to nearly £600,000.

2 Keep them in the knowEmployees who are engaged in the business will feel a sense of ownership and will, therefore, perform better. At Naylor Industries, the Barnsley-based £37m-turnover manufacturer of pipes, lintels and gardenware, all employees receive an annual summary of the business plan and budget; up-to-date company information from electronic noticeboards; a six-monthly DVD about major developments; a monthly note from the CEO on financial performance; and an annual newsletter.

3 Make them feel important  Take staff suggestions as to how the company can improve. John Fedden, a director of Worcestershire-based, B2B lead generation firm Sales Factory, tells us how this can apply to your sales team: “It isn’t just about mutually agreeing sales targets, territories and commission structures. It also means getting their valued input into the big aspects that really determine their success potential, such as product/service design, marketing strategy and even the terms and conditions within the customer contract.”

4 Hold a “hack” day Job board software house Madgex holds “hack days”, which are informal ideas generation and discussion forums for all of its staff.The company also sponsors events that champion enhancements in IT and skills sharing. Processes and technologies in the £4.5m-turnover firm have been improved, helping the company record strong profit growth in the niche product area of job board software.

5 … Or a “perfect day” During its company away days – a tried-and-tested way of revving up your staff – Madgex quizzes staff on their idea of  a “perfect working day”. The company has taken some of these suggestions on board. For example, Madgex now offers free cake on a Friday, fresh flowers in meeting rooms, and a green team was set up to make the company more environmentally friendly.

6 … Or a “Me Day”BEcause, a £9.2m-turnover marketing agency, motivates the 50 people it employs at its London head office by offering “Me Days”. This extra day’s holiday is a reward for exceptional effort. 7 Don’t think health and safety, think wellbeingErgonomics consultancy and training services company System Concepts knows a zen workforce is happier and more productive, so it has spent a lot of time and cash on a wellbeing programme. Schemes include healthy eating initiatives and team building events involving fresh air and activities to get the blood pumping. The number of sick days taken has fallen from 124 days during 2005–06, to 48 days in 2007–08, saving the company approximately £35,000 in sick pay costs. Staff turnover, meanwhile, has dropped from 20 per cent in 2005–06 to seven per cent in 2007–08.

8 Flex it upFlexible working can help you attract new staff, but it also allows existing staff to fulfil their other ambitions – whether that’s looking after their children, or having a better quality of life by removing their daily commute. Uzair Bawany, managing director of £12m-turnover Contact Recruitment, says: “One of our staff members is going to get married later on in the year and will then be moving to Ireland. We’re talking to her about working two or three days a week from here and from Ireland for the rest of the time. If it can work for your business, you’ve got to be flexible and accommodating, especially when talent is scarce.”

9 Introduce teamsWant to get your staff more involved in the company’s development? BEcause did, so it established four “Champion” teams. They’re chaired by staff members and include: The Architects (office environment), The Cultivators (culture/team building), The Squares (learning and development) and Harmony (internal communications).

10 Let staff self-appraiseTechnical recruitment consultancy Penta Consulting attributes much of its success (pre-tax profits have tripled and profitability has increased by 251 per cent per head) to the introduction of a monthly web-based self-appraisal system that helps sales staff identify their individual and team needs.

Keep an eye out for more tips on revving up your staff here on RealBusiness.co.ukPicture source

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