There’s much focus on looking after employees, in the modern workplace, indeed business owners are so encouraged to take care of their employees they can often feel like a mother that is so busy taking care of their child’s needs that they neglect their own.
In fact, many struggling business owners find that they tend to pay their staff without being able to take a wage themselves – some even resort to sleeping in the office, or remortgaging their home due to this.
Self-care is a concept that’s often overlooked within a business context. It’s really important, as a business owner that you take care of yourself. It’s like how pilots tell passengers with young children to take care of their own gas masks first before helping others, as unless you have your own gas mask secured first, you aren’t in a position to help anyone else.
It’s therefore imperative you “put yourself first” within your business and ensure that you are looking after yourself just as much as you are looking after your staff. There’s a question asked by many business coaches and psychotherapists which goes something like “you’re looking after everyone – but who’s looking after you?”
In a nutshell self-care comes in many forms, from making sure you take some time out to refresh and replenish to paying yourself a salary. The reality is that the most significant asset your business has is YOU – for without you, as the business owner, nothing would be possible.
Protecting Your Business
It’s important you find a balance of caring for your staff and protecting them from risk whilst simultaneously protecting your business from risk. For instance, your business might be at risk of someone you hire learning all your good stuff and then setting themselves up as a competitor.
At a larger level, corporate espionage (sometimes known as industrial espionage) is a real thing and something that costs corporations billions of dollars in lost revenue. There’s also the risk of theft, as in the majority of retail outlets the number one culprit for loss in terms of theft are the staff!
You must also protect yourself from any potential negligence of your employees, as in the majority of lawsuits, you, as the business owner would be held vicariously liable – meaning you are the person that would be sued and deemed to be responsible for the negligence of your staff.
As an example, let’s say you hire someone that is very racist. If they were to be racist in the workplace, which led to a lawsuit being made by a customer against your company for discrimination… the staff member might be held jointly liable for his/her actions – but fundamentally, the lawsuit is against the business rather than the individual staff member, and therefore damages would be recoverable from you.
This is why it’s so important to select the right staff for your business. On this note, if you suspect someone is doing drugs it can be useful to have random saliva drug test days in order to keep your staff in check. This also serves to mitigate your liability.
For instance, let’s say you run a company that transports goods, yet one of the driver’s you hire has a major accident. You, as the business owner would be just as liable as the individual, yet if there were drugs involved and you had a policy of testing for drugs – and until that point the driver had always passed…
… it would mitigate your level of liability, as you would be seen to have done everything reasonable to prevent this issue.
There are, of course, other aspects when it comes to protecting your business – such as protecting your premises against intruders and theft, though in this article, we’re looking specifically at looking after your business whilst looking after your staff.
There needs to be a balance. You don’t want to be so focused on the business that you neglect the needs of your staff – at the same time, however, you don’t want to be so focused on placating your staff that you let them take advantage of you.
Protecting Your Staff
If you’re staff don’t feel valued and taken care of they will start resenting you and drop their level of effort and commitment to your business – ultimately, working just enough so they don’t get fired but with no passion in their heart.
Similarly, there are many legal measures in place to ensure you protect your staff. For instance, there’s a requirement to make reasonable adjustments within the workplace and be sensitive to the needs of your staff; these could be anything from buying a more supportive chair to alleviate back pain or a more flexible working pattern to alleviate low mood and mental health challenges.
In summary, there are many ways you NEED to protect your staff and look out for their wellbeing, but there are things you can do to help your staff feel valued and cared about, which often doesn’t cost all that much money but the return on energetic investment and goodwill that comes from this can be huge.
In this vein, having the occasional social gathering to bond your team is a good idea. Offering incentives, such as a wonderful trip if people meet particular targets can be a great idea too. Essentially, you want to make sure that your staff feel motivated, valued and empowered – rather than doing things because they “have to” doing things because they “want to”.
In summary, there’s a need for you to put yourself first as a business owner and make sure you engage in self-care as well as the care of your staff and customers. Then, you need to consider the fact you must protect your business from any potential issues that could arise from staff neglect or deceit, as whilst it’s an unpalatable reality, it is a reality one must consider.
Finally, it really pays to take care of your staff beyond the standard that is required by law – as the more valued your staff feel, the more they will value you and your business – meaning, this way, you will get a lot more from them in return.