I have yet to walk into a company during my thirty five years in the industry that didn’t have some form of this statement about the value of employees printed somewhere. A mission statement, in their employee handbook, on a poster on the wall, the company newsletter and even in the strategic plan for the very few that actually have a strategic plan. However, when I think about it, I almost want to puke. Why? Because the majority of the companies that make this claim have no idea what it really means to treat their employees like their most important asset. Listen carefully, if you don’t treat your employees like your most important asset --- Then they certainly will not act nor will they perform like your most important asset. And that means you are missing the greatest opportunity in the world to leverage talent in creating competitive advantage in your market place. Make no mistake, it is your employees that create core competencies and core competencies create competitive advantage. However, I have to go further and say; you really can’t treat them like an asset but like associates that you really care about. Kudos to every company out there that has figured this out but you are in the minority. Treating your employees as associates you really care about is not a mystery. It’s not rocket science. It’s actually fairly simple. WARNING! Lip Service about it isn’t good enough. Putting it in your mission statement, posting it on the wall, publishing it in the company newsletter doesn’t mean crap if you don’t act on it. Acting on it means spending money. Invest in the greatest power you have for achieving success; your employees. Don’t cut training and education from the budget every time there is an economic hiccup. . Examine the following tips and I think you’ll be able to figure it out • Start at the beginning, examine your hiring practice. The first thirty days of employment are critical. Create a buddy sponsor and pay the buddy $100 to guide the new employee the first month. Let the new employee choose his buddy after two weeks. Can you imagine the cooperation and help the new person will get that first week. Make sure you have a legitimate documented employee orientation program. • Identify training needs throughout the organization. Create a training matrix. Allocate funds. Develop an intern program for leadership candidates that show exceptional promise. Create mentoring programs. Train your managers on coaching and mentoring. Don’t forget education. Reimburse tuition; create specific educational curriculum's for specific management level employees. Create a company university program. • Burn the annual appraisal forms. They are worthless. Create an obligation for all managers to spend a minimum of thirty minutes a month discussing performance and opportunity with their direct reports. Record it on a 3 x 5 card. This will make annual performance reviews meaningful because you now have data for the entire year, twelve mini reviews. Another option is to invest in a performance management system like “Keynelink”. • Statistics and surveys prove that the majority of employees that leave their employers do not leave due to pay. Employees want to be treated like people. They want respect and trust. Employees will not start respecting their leaders until their leaders start respecting them. They will not start trusting their leaders until their leaders start trusting them. Ask yourself how you would want your managers to treat your son or your daughter if they worked for them? Some of you have family in the business. • Fairness---- Employees want fairness in all their dealings. This starts with fair pay. Is it your goal as a company to pay at or above market? This includes base pay, benefits, recognition and other non-monetary rewards. Fair and consistent treatment is a must. Award and recognize with extra paid days off in conjunction with a weekend. Buy the book 1001 ways to make it fun to come to work. • Accountability ---- Employees want to be held accountable. They want to be empowered. They want to contribute. Make sure they understand what their job really entails. What are their responsibilities? Job descriptions, if you have them, are often vague or incomplete. • Coach and Mentor your employees. If you do these things, you will be on your way to becoming the kind of employer that people seek out; the kind people really want to work for. Your recruitment and retention problems will be minimal. Employees will excel. They will release that discretionary energy and apply it to creating competitive advantage. Training your employees will increase their drive for success. Fairness creates happy employees. Happy employees create satisfied customers and satisfied customers create profit and market share gains.