Employee Management

Creating a sense of ownership in your staff

Getting that ever-important buy-in from employees can improve your business's performance.

Published: July 22, 2014

Employees can produce better work when they find meaning in what they do. Small business owners who create that meaning for employees can go a long way in improving their company culture, retention, and growth.

Get started with some tips for increasing your employees’ involvement in the business and their sense of ownership.

Introduce a mission statement

Developing a clear mission statement can be a crucial first step. The Harvard Business Review Blog Network highlights Starbucks as a good example, “Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”

Consider asking your staff members for feedback on the mission statement or how their work reflects the mission statement to further involve them in the process of solidifying the company mission. A mission statement is actionable, and helps new employees understand how they’re making an impact.

Incentivize good work

For Two Maids & A Mop, the average customer attrition was hovering around 20% several years ago. Ron Holt, CEO and founder, said the number was unsustainable. If something didn’t change, they were going to run out of customers.

To improve this, Holt implemented a change to the company’s pay structure. Employees would be put on pay-for-performance plans. Customers would rate the cleaners on a scale of 1 – 10. In addition to a wage, employees would earn more money the higher they were rated by the customers.

The new pay structure worked. Last year, Inc. named the company the fastest growing cleaning service in the country. The attrition rate dropped to around 2.5%, morale increased, and so did employee retention, Holt says.

Now, employees are eager to hear feedback, even so far as wanting to go back to customers’ homes to do a better job and earn more money. Holt says that creating a culture of ownership has been the primary reason for his company’s success.

Another option for incentivizing employees is profit sharing, either by providing a monthly or yearly check with the percentage shared — as part of their taxable income — or adopting a retirement plan through your bank. You have the option not to contribute if the money isn’t available to do so.

Create an open environment

When Andrea Eldridge, CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, needed to boost company morale, she increased transparency within the company. Nerds On Call, which provides on-site technology repair throughout the West Coast and online service repair nationally, created a “scoreboard” tallying companywide performance: how many appointments are booked, sales stats, the conversion rate of appointments into paying customers, etc.  

With employees working in different locations, this open policy created a sense of connectedness, and stimulated competition. “Rather than plugging along not knowing how well they are performing amongst their co-workers, they can compete in real time with other technicians in the field,” Eldridge says. Employees then know how they and the company are doing, which can help inform things like when to ask for a raise.

Make small changes

Creating ownership doesn’t necessarily need to be an overhaul, though. Business owners can take steps on a daily basis.

If you’re redesigning the office, seek employees’ advice about the décor. Extend that further to give control to employees over their workspaces. A study by the University of Exeter’s School of Psychology found that people were 32% more productive when they had ownership of that.

Your team is one of your most valuable resources. By investing in their sense of ownership, you can ensure their eagerness to grow with your business. Learn about what you can do keep your employees happy and stress free.