Human Capital Management Blog

Strategies for HCM Professionals

2 long-standing strategies for building a happy, productive workforce

workerWhile just about everyone agrees that maximizing employee retention and productivity is a key goal when managing a workforce, there’s still a great deal of dissent about how exactly to make that happen. 
There are both short- and long-term needs to consider here. If you push your employees to the max, you might get a great deal of productivity out of them today, and there’s value in that. But you also have to worry about the prospect of burning your employees out months, or even years, from now.

That’s why some leadership figures are taking the opposite approach, according to Human Resource Executive Online. For example, Bob Chapman, CEO of manufacturing supply company Barry-Wehmiller, told the news source that he has experience as both a CEO and a parent, and he takes the same approach to both. In other words, he strives to treat his employees like family.

When you do that, these are the two tactics that naturally fall into place for your organization:

Seeing real value in your employees
When you treat your employees like family, Chapman told HRE Online, you value them. You care about keeping them happy, so you listen to their thoughts and feelings on a regular basis.

“It’s always easy to say it, of course,” Chapman said of valuing employees. “It may well be easy to do it when times are good, when business is going well and the economy’s strong. There are really not any tough choices to be made. Inevitably, when tough times do come, that is when your commitment to this truly gets tested.”

Chapman cited the 2008 financial crisis as an example – when money got tight and it became harder to sustain his staffing levels, the impulse was to start laying people off. But because he valued his employees, he made some creative moves to keep everyone on board. He showed that his people meant something to him – and in turn, that elevated their engagement levels.

Inspiring people to reach new heights
If you value people, they are far more likely to value you in return. And once you have the workforce engaged and willing to listen to you, you can make great things happen.

“I’ve learned that you can’t manage people. You can only inspire people,” said Chapman. “Leadership is a part of the process of inspiring people.”

He recalled that his company was 90 years old when his father died and he had to take over. Operations had gotten stale and innovation was dead. But because he made an extra effort to fuel people’s engagement, there was a renewed sense of commitment and a heightened willingness to work.

This is a lesson that any employment leader can benefit from. If you take an interest in rekindling the fire in your employees, it will pay dividends in the years to come.

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