Job one: Keeping employees happy and engaged

In our business, our most important asset is, without a doubt, our people.

In our business, our most important asset is, without a doubt, our people. Keeping them happy, motivated and focused on serving our clients is my top priority as managing partner of Linhart Public Relations.

Like many business leaders, we're continually looking for ways to enhance our work environment, our benefits package and ways to reward, recognize and retain our high-performing team members. Here are three actionable tips to consider:

Focus on what matters most. Determine what your employees want and need to feel engaged and motivated to do their best. This could involve informal conversations with employees to ask questions and listen: What would make your work more satisfying? Which of your talents aren't being fully utilized? What ideas do you have for improving our company and why? Formal surveys also help identify employee preferences. For example, in our annual employee satisfaction survey, Linhart PR team members said the top-ranked benefit was the quarterly cash bonus paid to all permanent, non-partner employees based on 20 percent of our net income. It's a powerful incentive for the entire team, with bonuses determined by bottom-line contributions, client results, tenure, and seniority, among other factors.

Establish clear roles and career paths. Employees – especially Millennials – want to know where they can go and grow within your organization. Be creative in carving out new or expanded roles that tap a high-potential employee's talents and passions. At Linhart PR, we have a career progression path that outlines expectations and skills needed for advancement, thus eliminating ambiguity and defining opportunities.

Be transparent. Employees need to feel a sense of ownership in the success of the organization, including how they contribute to it and what's in it for them. Transparency is foundational for building this engagement, pride, and trust. We share our financial results during a monthly staff meeting, reinforcing our “open-book” management approach. We learned this is a best practice used by our firm and other fellow winners of the 2011 Top Small Company Workplace award from Inc. magazine and Winning Workplaces that recognizes employee engagement and business excellence.

We believe these three simple but important steps have helped us attract and retain great professionals. What's working for your firm or company as a talent magnet?

Sharon H. Linhart, APR, is managing partner at Linhart Public Relations.

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