Let's face it: In the midst of a pandemic and a recession, your budget at the end of 2020 may look a lot different than it did at the beginning. That means even if your business hasn't shuttered, you still might not have the resources to spend on building your business that you expected to.
That could be a problem for some in the near-term. This is especially true for startups and small businesses that can't compete with the deep pockets of bigger, more established businesses. A good business is one that continues to invest in its team, building them up financially as well as professionally and emotionally. No one wants to spend those resources on team members only to see them take their developed skill sets to another business.
If the budget is tight, however, major raises, 401(k) matching, and other perks might not be in the cards. So what can you do to continue investing in your people--keeping them not just happy, but on an upward professional trajectory? Here are four ideas:
Being a good manager involves a lot more than telling people what to do and when to do it. Good managers are excellent communicators, motivators, negotiators, and decision makers--and not everyone has these important skills.
Even if someone isn't ready to step into a management position, providing them with the training to eventually do so can be a major benefit for both them and the company. By giving team members such an opportunity, you prove your commitment to helping them grow, and grow with your business.
Consider making the one-time investment of bringing in an external firm to handle management training, or carving out time for current managers to conduct the training themselves.
Leverage the existing experience and skills of your leadership team by creating an internal mentorship program within your organization. New hires and middle management workers alike could benefit from meeting regularly with highly skilled members of your team. Set up a mentorship program and give people the time to speak with and learn from your leadership team while on the clock.
This can even work in a cross-functional capacity--allow your workers the option of learning from someone on a different team so they can develop new interests and skills to add to their résumé.
A small educational stipend for each member of your team can go a long way. Tell your team that you'll reimburse them for classes, courses, conferences, and other learning opportunities up to a certain amount. You can even put together a resource list of online courses and local universities offering continuing education programs to help point people in the right direction and demonstrate your commitment to the concept.
With this tactic, you give people the flexibility to choose how to develop themselves further. This goes a long way towards helping them feel autonomous and motivated. Keep in mind: Financing these opportunities is also an investment in your company. Skills that your workers gain through their classes can be deployed in the service of your mission.
Mandatory days off
For many of us, the concept of work-life balance has been skewed by the pandemic. People are working from home, at odd hours, and are having a hard time distinguishing between being off the clock and on the clock. It doesn't take an expert to know that people don't tend to stay motivated or productive when they work that way.
To stay ahead of the curve on burnout, consider giving your employees days off--and make them mandatory, no working allowed. You can make them random upcoming Fridays, or select certain days that perhaps align with your values, such as Election Day.
If you're worried that giving people days off will cut into your already slimmed down profit margins, consider an alternative where a burned-out employee walks altogether. You'll end up needing to spend additional resources to recruit, hire, and train their replacement. The occasional extra day off to allow people to recharge can pay dividends in the long run.
There are a variety of low-cost ways that you can invest in your company culture and team. Simple recognition of a job well done can go a long way towards making someone feel valued and motivated. That said, the above tactics may be more effective in keeping buy-in high among your most valued workers--at least until your budget crunch is over and you can afford to invest in them to the fullest.