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Mar 14, 2014

I have owned my own business for more years than I care to admit (OK, it’s 30).

During that time, I have learned a few things when it comes to supporting the efforts of those who continue to show up each day and make our company what it is. Some were successful, and some not so much.

If I could do it all over again, here are the Top 10 Best Practices I would implement.

1. Create a well-managed HR department

Most business owners will tell you that their most important asset is their employees. If that’s true (which it is), I suggest you create a solid structure that protects it.

Nothing does that better than a seasoned Human Resource professional to start, and an HR department as your business grows.

2. Pay your employees well

Clearly, one of the main reasons your employees show up every day is for what they see in their paycheck.

Don’t overpay, but pay them well. Understand the salary ranges that are appropriate for their job description and pay your top achievers near the top of the scale.

For those who still have something to prove, pay them a bit less to encourage aspirations for something better.

3. Offer a rich benefits program

Since the Affordable Care Act became law, we have heard that many business owners cannot afford to offer health insurance to their employees. I would argue that you cannot afford not to, especially if your business is located in a state like Massachusetts.

Most businesses in Massachusetts offer health insurance, partly because they have to and partly because it’s the right thing to do. With 98 percent of the Bay State’s population covered by health insurance, your company will stand out from the crowd with a generous benefit offering.

And don’t forget dental, life, AD&D, short and long term disability insurance too. A 401(k) with an employer match is the frosting on the cake.

4. Acknowledge employee service and reward it

If you have employees who have chosen to work for you for a number of years, you might consider rewarding them with the same gift they gave you – the gift of time.

At Genesis, employees are granted a four-week paid sabbatical for every ten years of service. This time away must be taken all at once and is awarded in addition to accrued vacation time.

There is nothing more valuable than a re-energized employee returning from a four-week hiatus.

5. Invest in your workforce

For those employees who achieve at a high level, encourage them further by investing in them. Improving an employee’s skill set might create your next manager.

Investing in your managers will create your next leaders. Instructional and management seminars abound. Take advantage of them.

6. Celebrate success

Company and individual success should be celebrated at every opportunity. Acknowledgement should be clear, publicized and proud.

Company achievements are important but so are the personal ones. Don’t forget them.

7. Create a community identity

Being identified as a responsible corporate citizen is important and the right thing to do.

Just as important, it creates a sense of pride within your organization. Employees want to work for a company that matters.

8. Start traditions and stick with them

Some companies give away turkeys at Thanksgiving, hold a holiday party around Christmas or hold picnics in the summer.

If your company does one or several of these, that’s great. The important thing to remember is to be consistent and do it every year. It will become part of your corporate identity.

9. Employ “MBWA”

MBWA (“Management by walking around”) is important. Take the time whenever you have the opportunity to visit with your employees.

If they are indeed your most important asset, your interaction will let them know it. And yes, you might learn a thing or two.

10. Learn from those you employ

Speaking of learning, there is no better source of education than your workforce. Those who interact with your clients are learning more about your business than you are.

Take advantage of it. Moreover, the technological advances of the last 20 years have changed the paradigm. If you are a Baby Boomer like me, take the time to learn from the Millennials. They have much to teach you.

The financial success you experience as a company is the direct result of your employees who show up each day.

They are your most important asset. Take care of it.

This was originally published on the Genesis HR Solutions blog

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