By | Charlie Fletcher
What makes a great leader? Is it the ability to make tough decisions? Or, perhaps it’s being able to deliver a great speech? Maybe it’s the example you set for others to follow?
Regardless of your leadership style, one thing is certain: great leaders invest in their teams.
Leaders who invest in their teams not only upgrade the skills and abilities of those around them, they also gain greater loyalty from employees who appreciate the investment in their futures.
Investing in employees is especially important during the current “Great Resignation” where talented folks are taking advantage of remote working opportunities to find more lucrative, fulfilling positions. As a leader, you can respond to this trend by treating employees like assets rather than liabilities and investing in your team.
Investing in Health
The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental and physical wellbeing. Research shows that folks are less active, have poorer sleep quality, and are much more likely to suffer from mental health conditions like depression. You should also pay particular attention to signs of alcohol addiction, as nearly a third of US adults have had a period of problem drinking, which can completely derail your employees’ lives.
As a leader, you can’t fix every problem that your team faces, but you can make it easier for employees to prioritize their mental and physical wellbeing for the first time in a long time. Start by committing some portion of your next budget towards improving employee health and wellbeing. A financial commitment makes it easier for you to make meaningful changes to the way your workplace operates, and signals that you are serious about employee wellbeing.
What you do next is dependent upon your workplace and the demands upon your employees — changes that might improve the well-being of construction workers are unlikely to be beneficial for office workers. To establish the best route forward, you should engage in active listening to learn more about the challenges your team may be facing.
Even the most headstrong of leaders are adept listeners. That’s because good leadership is all about getting the most out of followers. As a manager or business owner, you can utilize active listening techniques to get a more accurate picture of your team’s needs and desires.
First and foremost, you shouldn’t expect employees to take the initiative and start sharing with you without a prompt to do so — many employees are conditioned to believe that asking for changes is a bad thing. Instead, set aside time during performance reviews and between day-to-day tasks to gently ask if employees would like to pursue further training or if they have suggestions to improve the workplace.
This can be a little more tricky if you’re one of the many businesses that are now operating remotely. But reaching out is particularly important for remote teams, as many people feel disconnected from their workplaces when working remotely. In addition, remote employees face a range of health ailments like hip misalignment, poor circulation, depression, and sleep disorders. So, take particular care to reach out to remote workers to see how you can help.
Investing in the health and wellbeing of your team is important, but upskilling is the holy grail of workplace investment. When you commit your company’s funds to an employee’s future, you will likely be rewarded with a highly-skilled, extremely motivated employee who will be loyal to your business and yield you a great return on your investment.
There are plenty of different ways you can upskill your employees. You can make a major investment into their education through scholarship funds or can offer flexible hours so your team can complete a degree or postgraduate certification.
Additionally, you can consider cross-training your employees to create a well-rounded team of multi-skilled employees. This can help employees understand the business from a more holistic perspective, so they can complete their tasks more efficiently and can fill in with relative ease if needed. Just be sure not to put too much responsibility on an employee’s plate — what you see as upskilling might actually be overburdening.
The Little Things
The pandemic has dramatically changed employees’ priorities. Many folks are now more interested in working for employees that can provide further training and flexible hours, rather than “trendy” workplaces with pool tables and ice-cream machines. However, that doesn’t mean you should completely discount the little things.
According to the Harvard Business Review, you can make your employees feel appreciated by touching base in little ways and often. This is like an “active open door” policy that reassures employees that you’re there for them. Additionally, be open about investment opportunities, and be willing to fight for your team to ensure that they get the growth opportunities they need.
Great leaders raise the level of those around them and know how to get the best out of their teams. Leaders of today should invest in their team members, as talented employees have more freedom than ever before to take up lucrative remote working opportunities. Regardless of your budget, you can make investments in your team by prioritizing their wellbeing, and by offering benefits like flexible working hours which allow employees to strike a harmonious work-life balance.