Top tips for business leaders: creating a caring company

The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips  - Showing your staff that you care about them simply makes good business sense. Find out why and discover some practical advice


Why should businesses care about being caring? Businesses first and foremost are all about making profits, right? In fact, achieving the first can be fundamental in helping you to achieve the other.


Showing your staff that you care about them simply makes good business sense. Staff who feel that their employer cares about them are likely to be more engaged and productive.


A survey carried out by the ILM in 2013* found that 31 per cent of respondents stated that the one thing that would motivate them to do more at work was better treatment by their employer.


So it goes without saying that a more motivated workforce ultimately makes for a more profitable and successful company.


Another important factor to consider is reputation. Companies with a reputation for looking after their staff are able to attract the very best candidates and, most importantly, retain them. It is well documented that the economy is improving and that means a greater availability of jobs.


Research by the Institute of Leadership and Management at the beginning of 2014 found that 19 per cent of managers were considering leaving their posts this year. Once you have your key talent in place and you’ve nurtured and trained them, the last thing you want is for them to defect to your competitors so they can reap the benefits of your investment.


And it’s not only caring for your staff that’s important. Companies that can demonstrate caring for their customers, their suppliers and the communities they operate in are much more likely to thrive in the marketplace, generating loyalty.


Setting yourself apart from your competitors with a strong ethical stance not only helps attract and engage highly committed staff but it can also be great for business.


Consider Innocent, which built its brand values around not only being a great employer but also producing its product sustainably and promoting healthy eating among customers. The company, which began in 1999 with three graduates running a stall at a festival, posted a turnover of £207m and profits of £26m in 2012.


So what does a caring employer look like? Below are some practical tips to help managers increase caring while boosting productivity and profitability:


Thank the people who put you there

First, consider who your business has to thank for its success (eg employees, suppliers and the communities you operate in) and how you can demonstrate your appreciation to these key stakeholders. This means taking the time to understand their needs and aspirations and meeting them. This could include:


• Structured praise and recognition/development opportunities/team-building days


• Charitable donations to the local community/allowing your staff to volunteer with community projects


• Ensuring suppliers are given reasonable deadlines and paid a fair and sustainable price



Nurturing relationships is not just a “nice to have”

ILM research shows that managers find working relationships (within teams and with customers and suppliers) increasingly important. Developing and maintaining good working relationships are the key means of, not distraction from, doing real work.


Organisations are using the strength of working relationships as a market differentiator.


Managers should take time to properly engage with colleagues and understand their aspirations and concerns. Twenty-nine per cent of managers have had training in relationship management.


You almost cannot communicate too much

In a world of digital working, with more people working flexible hours, you might not be in physical contact with staff as often. Therefore communication has become a top priority.


It’s not surprising that communication has been noted as the top skill managers would like to develop.


However, recent ILM research has noted that this is also the skill which managers state their peers tend to do most badly.


The key to communicating well is fostering good two-way communications. It’s essential that people feel consulted and listened to.



Train your managers for success

Communication, planning, and leadership and management are all cited as being increasingly important but they can be hard to achieve, especially in large organisations.


Training and qualifications will help, especially for people who are newly promoted into management: frequently they are promoted on the basis of technical/subject ability and left to sink or swim when it comes to management and leadership competence.


ILM has found that only 57 per cent of organisations have a leadership and management talent pipeline, even though 93 per cent recognise that a lack of management skills is affecting their business.



Find out what makes your people tick

We know from ILM research that the top-ranked (by both managers and employees) performance motivator is job enjoyment.


• Only 13 per cent of employees rated bonuses as a top motivator

• Fifty-nine per cent of employees rated job enjoyment as a top motivator

• Thirty-one per cent of employees identified better treatment from their employer, more praise and a greater sense of being valued would make them more motivated.


This could be non-financial recognition and reward, improved office environments, team and company away days or schemes to encourage innovation and creative thinking.


Think how jobs are structured and what opportunities there are to provide development – whether formal training and qualifications or informal opportunities such as secondments or varying the projects or roles of each staff member.


Make sure everyone understands how they contribute to success

Have clearly stated values and work out with everyone what those look like in practice (abstract words on posters or screen savers are not enough).


This will help everyone to pull in the same direction and will also help people applying to work for your company to gauge their suitability.


Having a clear vision which managers can pass on to staff will help everyone to work towards the same thing. ILM research also indicates that it will improve staff positivity and performance.


Specific training and development will help aspiring and current organisational leaders to turn dry objectives into something tangible that their people can reach.