Your hot water heater may be the most unappreciated appliance in your home. You don’t ever think about it. You may not ever see it. You don’t hear it. But turn on the faucet for a hot shower and get nothing but cold water, suddenly the hot water heater is the most valuable item in your home, or even on the planet. You might even trade in your mother-in-law for a hot shower at that moment. As a small business owner, you may be under-appreciating your most valuable asset. Your time is valuable, but it’s not the most valuable asset. It’s not your buildings or company vehicles or intellectual properties or contracts or social/business networks. All of these blessings rate near the top of the list, but another one holds the top spot.  Employees hold the top position!

Your employees are the engine that powers the train. They do the work that generates the revenues for your business and the 5-star Facebook and Google reviews. But if not managed well, they can be your greatest liability. Your employees are the single largest expense of your business. Some industries, like janitorial, struggle with a high turnover rate which puts a strain on profitability. So if you will agree with me that employees are extremely valuable to the well-being of your business, ask yourself this question – do you treat them with corresponding care and respect?  It’s easier to get and keep great employees when your small business is renown for how fantastic they are treated.

One way to improve your relationship with your employees is to have clear expectations. It’s the proper foundation for them to flourish. Second, fair compensation is important. That has practical implications as well as adding to the intrinsic value that employees feel. Fair pay in the long run is less expensive than constantly dealing with the churn of high employee turnover. If you have good employees who feel undervalued, they will be the first to hit the exits. Another way to affirm your employees’ value is to find ways to praise them. Simple, but effective and free.

Be the beacon in your business community that sets the standard for how well employees are treated. Keep your inbox filled with people who want to work for you. It’s the best strategy to keep pushing profits higher and maintaining the highest quality work product. And it’s just the right thing to do.

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