The first measure of success for any business is that it’s creating value for its customers. But that value is possible only if the business's employees are happy, motivated and productive. So, if you own a business, consider your people your most important resource. And consider investing in them a top priority for the year ahead.
Here are five New Year’s resolutions that will help you empower and build your team in 2019:
1. Commit to diversity
The strongest teams are composed of people with different opinions and points of view. People with similar backgrounds tend to look at problems in the same way.
For example, as a 45-year-old female, I approach issues far differently than do, say, my millennial colleagues. However, I find that embracing their viewpoints always brings us to a better decision. That’s why we’ve put a lot of effort into attracting and retaining top female talent in tech to bring more diversity to our growing team.
It takes dedicated time and effort to undertake these kinds of initiatives, but it pays off. A McKinsey report found that companies with higher racial and ethnic diversity were 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
Companies including Procter & Gamble, New York Life, Accenture, and Deloitte U.S seem to "get" that; those big names joined a cohalition called C.E.O. Action for Diversity and Inclusion, which helps share effective ways to be inclusive, like flexible work practices and gender equality programs. In 2019, consider applying these tactics within your own company and commit to diversity.
2. Give back
Use the success of your business to bring more good to the world; your team will benefit too! You can give back in one of two ways -- your time or your money.
At Doximity, we founded the Dox Foundation, a non-profit that helps clinicians reach underserved communities by funding flights for medical mission trips. Simply put, we help doctors travel to far-flung places where they can help patients with the greatest need. Past medical missions have gone to India, Uganda and Nicaragua to educate local clinicians and treat patients who either can’t afford care or can’t access it locally.
Another way to give back is to enable employees to have dedicated volunteer hours. Research has shown that more employees are pushing for these types of benefits. DoxGives, our internal volunteer program, encourages employees to take paid half days throughout the year and organizes opportunities for them to volunteer together. Giving back shows that you understand how your business fits into the broader community and showcases commitment to improve that community -- for everybody.
3. Be more flexible
In an increasingly connected world, a good portion of your work can be done anywhere. Employees know this intuitively, so it’s important to be flexible with your teams. While office face time is still critical, allowing your employees flexibility can be incredibly helpful and dramatically increase your employees' happiness and productivity.
We have a “Work from Home Wednesday” policy, which gives one day a week for everyone to save time on their daily commute, and take back that time to get stuff done, or “GSD” as we call it. Other companies like Upwork have found having a remote Wednesday policy to be the most beneficial path for their employees.
A meeting-free day in your calendar is a great time to tackle long writing projects, crank through a back log of emails or get to that dentist appointment you’ve been putting off. Scheduling appointments and staying on top of parental duties can be a whole lot easier when you work from home.
4. Provide experiences, not just benefits
Most tech companies in Silicon Valley are loaded with employee perks: free lunch, ping pong tables and often in-office bars. We do all these things in our business, but we’ve also found that the simple act of bringing people together to share new experiences -- outside of the office -- can be much more valuable.
Aim to schedule a regular series of offsite get-togethers throughout the year to bring teams together, including remote employees, and provide ways for people to connect and create lasting relationships. WeWork offers its employees experiences at corporate events; an example is its annual summit set in an exciting location around the world. Another is WeWork's annual summer camp.
Providing experiences helps build trust and understanding among teammates who aren’t always in the same office; they get to enjoy a fun event together. Also, if your company is growing quickly, hosting offsites gives new employees a chance to get to know their new team mates, and vice versa.
5. Listen -- then act
It’s easy to say that you listen, but you need to listen and also take action. If employees voice concerns or share ideas, it’s very important that you demonstrate with concrete action that you are following up on their concerns. Even small gestures like a message over Slack or a quick email follow-up can go a long way.
Employees are motivated by managers who take a vested interest in their point of view. Even if a manager can't come up with a short-term solution to an employee's concern, the fact that the employee has been heard and responded to is an important step.
Investing in your team doesn’t change the business overnight. It’s an ongoing project that is never done. However, companies that prioritize team investment early on are generallly the ones with strong cultures and the best retention rates. The New Year is the perfect opportunity to assess how you’re doing in this area; so go ahead: Make the changes that will yield big dividends for years to come.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.