The Good Jobs Strategy

At the end of May 2014, I attended an HR Jag given by the Inc. Business Council. A jag is a deep concentration on one topic where you walk away with actions you can immediately execute in your business. It was amazing as it forced me to think about a lot of things that I’ve unintentionally kept on the back burner due to being busy. I hate to admit it, but the thing that I’ve been “meaning to do” is take a good look at my HR and employee strategy.

Zeynep Ton, an MIT and Harvard Business School professor, was one of the keynote speakers. Her book, The Good Jobs Strategy, outlines some key things a business owner needs to do to ensure they are investing in their employees. Some tips from Zeynep were:

  • See employees as strategic assets and not as a cost item: we are innately “wired” to see employees as a cost. When we do so, we do not pay them what they are worth and, of course, they wind up leaving us for better pay. We also do not take the time to recognize and reward them.
  • The best companies always satisfy their constituents: their employees, customer and investors. If you take a look at the top companies with the happiest employees, those three components are the cornerstone of your company. When employees are happy in their jobs, customers are happy with your product/service and your investors are seeing a great return on investment, it usually translates to a good profit margin.
  • Standardize and empower people: everyone knows how to perform the same task and how long it takes to get the task done – it makes it easier to train or cross-train when the task is easily repeated or outlined. As a small business owner, we don’t have the luxury of huge teams so ensure everyone knows how a job should be done makes them more valuable to you.

We all know the cost of losing/replacing an employee – whether or not they leave on a voluntary basis. The time investment, recruiting costs, interviewing and training costs become exorbitant. Why not make our employees happy to work with us by giving them interesting projects, a friendly environment and good salary? Small business owners, make your employees proud to work with your organization.