December 5, 2022

Small Business Advice

Keeping Workers Involved

Jerry Osteryoung | 8/27/2007

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
— John Fitzgerald Kennedy

I have written many articles about employees. In fact, since I began this column in 2000, nearly 50% of my articles have dealt with employee issues. I think this is because generally when my phone rings, the entrepreneur on the line has questions about employee issues. These are the issues that keep entrepreneurs and managers up at night.

One of the key things you can do to minimize employee issues is to engage your workers whenever possible. As the national worker shortage approaches, we must make sure that we minimize turnover, and engaging each worker is one of the best ways to do so.

By “engage your workers” I mean make each worker feel as though they are doing more than just their job. Sure, each worker has tasks that must be done, but there is other flexible time that you can use to help each employee feel more engaged. An engaged worker feels as if they have a vested interest in the company and can see the real value of the company’s activities.

One thing that really helps is making sure each worker is cross-trained. Cross-trained workers see the big picture and can really appreciate the importance of what they do. Additionally, cross-training is so beneficial to each firm as you have much more flexibility to move workers around as needed.

Another great thing you can do is assign a mentor to each worker. It is a mentor’s job to make the employee feel at home in the company and to give them a sounding board. As most mentors have been with the company longer than the mentee, they are capable of giving wise advice both about the company and about how they can get promoted. This is one of those things that costs nothing, but pays high dividends.

Some firms go out of their way to make a time or money investment in the community, and people like to be associated with these businesses. So many workers just like to be involved in companies that are really committed to the community. Staff members at these organizations feel as if the firm is making a difference in so many ways.

Having employees plan a function for the business is another great way to engage your workers. I have seen employees plan everything from award ceremonies to charity drives. When an employee is given responsibility for a project that affects the overall company, they feel more tied to or engaged in the firm.

An additional way to make workers feel engaged is through personal interactions. Greet each worker every day, or walk by each employee and ask them how they are doing. The more you can interact with employees on a personal level, the more they are going to feel engaged.

Now go out and find some ways that you can make your workers feel engaged as doing so will pay dividends in so many ways.

You can do this!

Jerry Osteryoung is the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at Florida State University. He is also the Director of the Entrepreneurship Program at FSU and Executive Director of the Jim Moran Institute of Global Entrepreneurship. He can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 850-644-3372.

Tags: Florida Small Business

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