Building a great team might start with hiring for the right mix of hard and soft skills, but it doesn’t end there. The more you invest in your employees, the more they will invest in their work and the happier they’ll be, which benefits both you and them. Taking an interest in your team members’ lives and wishes for their futures will convey that you care about their well-being. This, in turn, motivates them to care about showing up for work every day and doing their best.
One of the many benefits to a happier team is lower turnover, which is expensive. And with lower turnover comes greater retention of the skill and expertise you’ve helped build by training your team. Take an interest in your team members’ personal and professional futures and talk to them about various considerations, both short and long term, that deserve their attention.
There are business benefits to offering retirement plans: good benefits help attract and retain top talent, and contributions are tax-deductible. One way to encourage your direct reports to plan for retirement is to mention this benefit regularly, especially to younger team members who may not be thinking that far ahead yet. When employees are planning for their futures, they’ll be less stressed at work.
HR can take the lead on this by creating an education campaign to help employees learn more about how saving now will affect them later and navigate the ins and outs of plan options. It can also be helpful to bring in financial advisors for employees to consult with once or twice a year. At a more fundamental level, starting with financial planning basics can help employees get into a position where they feel comfortable budgeting for retirement plan contributions. And, of course, if the company can swing it, increasing the match you offer is a good motivator.
Wills and living trusts
Teach your team why they should create a living trust or will in case something happens to them. Younger members of the workforce may not be thinking such documents, assuming it’s something to deal with when they’re older. They don’t plan on going anywhere, so it doesn’t seem worth the effort.
However, even if they don’t “need” a trust or will any time soon, it can provide greater peace of mind and help them down the road. And team members may have more assets than they realize—likely a car, perhaps even a retirement account or house. Creating a will can financially help a partner or aging parent if something does happen.
Like a trust or will, life insurance might just not be on your team members’ minds, especially if they aren’t raising kids. Consider bringing this topic up when you’re talking about retirement planning, as it’s another consideration in preparing for the future.
Remind your team that employer-sponsored life insurance plans are usually free (or very cheap), so there’s no reason not to get one. It’s also convenient and can be an easier route for people with medical conditions. Those who have families or other dependents may want to look into additional insurance options to take into account longer-term costs such as student loans, mortgage payments, healthcare, and childcare expenses.
When you support everyone on your team by helping them identify and work toward their own career goals, you have a stronger team with more motivation to perform well. Many employees may never have had someone take an interest in their career goals or even have figured out what those are.
Start by simply asking what their short- and long-term goals are. When they have clear answers to those questions—which may not happen right away—move on to discussing how their current position is supporting those goals or what you could change in order to provide more support. And remember that different people will need a different structure to these conversations; take personality types into consideration as you approach them. These conversations benefit your team, but they also benefit you: when they feel more supported, they will be more motivated in their positions as well as to seek new training and bring new skills into the company.
Whatever their career goals, your team members will benefit from having strong professional connections, and you can help get them, thereby tapping into your own network. They may not know about various professional organizations in your field, so that’s a great place to start.
Beyond that, though, think about who you know at your company or elsewhere with responsibilities similar to someone on your team. Who could be a work friend or possibly even a mentor? As with career planning, when you show your team that you are invested in their futures, they’ll be more motivated to do the job they have today.
When employees are new to the workforce, the field, or even a particular position, they often have a lot of energy to throw into the job. And that can benefit you. But it’s important to remember that over time, work-life balance is what keeps your team from burning out and disengaging in small ways that can hurt performance and team culture. There are many other signs of disengagement beyond simple absenteeism, such as employees keeping to themselves and changes in routine.
Working with your team members on their career goals is one way to help keep them engaged. Encouraging them to find work-life balance is another. Start by expressing an interest in what employees are doing on their weekends and with vacation time. Offer some perks at work that give your team downtime, like a quiet room and the occasional social outing on a Friday afternoon. Allow flex time so employees can accommodate appointments and school schedules without losing out on working time.
Remember that the more you invest in your team, the more they will invest in their work at your company. Whether it’s financial planning around retirement accounts and wills, career aspirations, or better work-life balance, the ways you choose to support your team in planning for their futures will communicate to them that you care about their well-being. And that makes for a happier, more productive team.