Change can be scary, particularly when running a business these days. There are just so many things in flux right now that we as business owners simply have no control over. Rising interest rates. Skyrocketing inflation. The supply chain nightmare. Record-breaking gas prices. A surge in cyberthreats. Yikes. Then of course there are those pesky hiring challenges associated with today’s workforce – finding, retaining and paying for talent, and a disinterested labor pool. The list of current challenges affecting small businesses is relentless.
But let me fill you in on a little secret. While “business as usual” no longer exists, true business leaders consider all these paradigm shifts and industry tribulations as opportunities for innovation. The most interesting thing here though is that, in my opinion, the most enduring and impactful improvements to the business of doing business will not come from some new technology or a healthy supply chain or even a calmer economy. Rather the most noteworthy advances to industry will emerge as business owners increasingly embrace a more holistic approach to their business strategies and, most importantly, to their employees and their company culture.
Rethinking Employee Engagement
The labor force today thinks differently than it did even three years ago. Workers today expect and really demand a more dynamic and rewarding employment environment, one in which they feel valued, supported, and inspired. One in which they feel is purposeful and feeds something beyond their bank account. And how do you as a business leader get your employees to feel that way? Easy. You actually value, support, and inspire them. You feed their purpose. Okay, maybe it is not so easy; but it is definitely well worth the effort.
As a business owner, it is time to rethink how you relate to and engage with your entire team. Your employees are not those nameless cogs of yesteryear. They are essential factors in the success and growth of your business. And you, as a business leader, should be an essential factor in their success and growth.
Creating a mutually supportive business environment starts with communicating and engaging today’s workforce. Urge your employees to think about what they want from their job, career, and life. Talk to them about how they would like to grow as professionals and as people. Let them know that you truly care about their happiness and prosperity. Then find ways, both standard and perhaps creative, that show you mean it.
The key to this new age of business leadership is to truly start caring about your people as much as you do your business. You can’t do it alone; your team, and every individual employee therein, are key factors in the success of your business. Now you be a key factor in the success of each of their lives.
Of course, this includes actions like helping your employees achieve their career goals, giving them opportunities for growth and learning, and creating a work environment in which they thrive. But it also means truly caring about each of your people beyond their employee status, supporting them in overcoming personal challenges, and being there as someone that transcends the employee-boss dynamic.
This all might sound like a lot of kumbaya rhetoric punctuated by pink heart emojis, but the fact is that by creating a supportive, caring, and humanity-embracing leadership style, you will dramatically enhance your ability to retain and acquire the talent you need, both in good economic times and bad.
The HR Crystal Ball
Listen. Inflation will curb eventually, the supply chain will get cranking again, and interest rates will ebb and flow. But make no mistake, today’s workforce is never going back to the unfulfilling employment dynamic of yesteryear.
So wise business owners take heed. It is time to implement a holistic, compassionate, and employee-centric approach to your leadership style. It is time to instill “humanity” into your human resources strategy. It is time to embrace the new labor force.
Blair Koch is the Owner and CEO of TAB Denver West, a TAB CEO Advisory Board Facilitator, and a Business Ownership Lifecycle Coach. Blair has spent most of her career helping small business owners achieve their personal and professional goals. She also hosts the Best Businesses in Denver podcast.