It happened: Silicon Valley Bank sold. 

Well, at least part of it. The bank’s deposits, loans, and 17 branches — scheduled to reopen today — were snagged by First Citizens BancShares, a Raleigh-based bank. (About $90 billion of assets still remain with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.) 

The hope is that this sale will “instill confidence in the banking system.” So far, it seems to be working. But it’s really too soon to tell. 

There are signs I’m seeing about the economy that should cause you concern.

But with the changes in the banking world and all the economic hysteria flying around, remember: 

A strong business is made of more than just money. 

Don’t fall into the panic trap and let it steal your vision for your company. There are simple yet powerful things you can do right now for your Research Triangle business — despite all the uncertainty out there. 

If you need some inspiration, let’s find a time to chat: calendly.com/bbarton_accountant

Last week, we looked at building a referral team for your business as an indirect way to strengthen your financial framework. But here’s the key to that approach: If you’re going to have referrals, your employees need to be ready to handle the new business. Now is not the time to be having customer service issues or worn-down employees who feel underappreciated. 

In other words — you need to keep your team happy. 

It can seem like an impossible feat, but a little goes a long way. And when you have a team that’s enjoyable to be around AND gets things done… that’s when the magic happens. 

Here are some ideas for you:

What Research Triangle Employers Should Know About Employee Satisfaction

“Happiness is waking up, looking at the clock and finding that you still have two hours left to sleep.” – Charles Schultz

The good news: Four out of five workers told a recent survey they were optimistic about their career and job prospects. 

The bad news: One in four also said they didn’t like their jobs, almost one in three would quit without even having another gig lined up, and more than half are looking for a job now or expect to soon. 

Your employees? No way, you think. But how do you know? 

Any way you cut it, those numbers indicate that you have a strong reason to keep your workers happy. How can you give them what they want without breaking the bank?

What are they unhappy about?

This is the work world, not an unending honeymoon. And why should you be expected to have to provide somebody happiness? 

You shouldn’t — and let’s face it, you’ve never going to please everyone. But bear in mind those turnover numbers — and consider that it can cost you months, if not years, of an employee’s salary to replace them. 

Signs of an unhappy worker aren’t too different from signs of an unhappy person in general: bad attitude, lack of engagement, and productivity fall off. There usually isn’t a single reason for somebody’s dissatisfaction, but some problems do crop up often in surveys: low pay (a big factor, but usually not the only one causing an employee to leave), lack of appreciation, bad leadership, no road for growth, and crummy work-life balance. 

Let’s look at a few of those. 

Shifting your focus

Remote work was once a perk. Post-pandemic, it’s become an expectation of many Research Triangle workers — and the push-pull of many relationships between workers and bosses. One recent news story even said that many bosses just wanted people in an office because it makes them feel better. (Even if it does make you feel better, best to not mention it …) 

You can appreciate remote work as a way to show gratitude and build loyalty. And you may already be using some of the best strategies for it, such as a partly remote work schedule and Zoom meetings. 

Habits die hard — but shift your focus from the hours in the office to the workloads and their results. Is a project on schedule despite people not being on-premises on the same days? Are your people getting more done at home since they don’t have to commute? 

Do some folks seem more productive outside traditional hours of work? Freedom to choose when to work can be a strong motivator. 

Recognize and reward

“Throwing money at the problem” is often trotted out as a pricey excuse for lazy management — almost as often as employees complain about low pay. Is your pay (and benefits package) in line with your industry and location? Check your professional networks. Have employees’ responsibilities increased while pay hasn’t? That can be a turnover time bomb. 

Raises after the annual review are fine, but smaller, frequent rewards tend to be more effective — even as frequent as every week or two. Extra paid days off can work well (don’t forget their birthdays). 

Document the rewards (who gets what when and for doing what) and send word of it downstream to your managers and supervisors. Peers should also be allowed to nominate peers. 

And rewards don’t always have to be material. It’s amazing how far a well-timed “thank you” will go. 

Learning and advancement

A tangible career path on the job is a proven way to energize employees (at least the ones who’ll appreciate the chance — coincidentally, probably the ones worth keeping in the first place) and foster longer-term loyalty. 

This offering can involve training, mentoring, letting them know about continuing education (and maybe chipping in for the tuition), and even just giving them more decision-making authority. 

Check with your senior staff. Is anyone willing to mentor a younger staffer? Train a few on some area of expertise? This is cheap, easy to set up, and solidifies loyalty and camaraderie. 

Listen up

Should you survey your staff to find out what they want? Might be a good idea — people will often write things down anonymously that they’d never tell a boss face to face. 

But what do you ask? Chestnuts include asking employees if they think their work is “meaningful,” if they feel respected by colleagues, and if they ever feel stressed  or challenged. Specific questions work, as well: Would you like to see …? How about parental leave? Tuition reimbursement? The chance to earn more vacation days? 

Try a survey every quarter and see how it goes. You may also find out if you’re paying for an expensive perk that nobody ever uses. 

Even in our increasingly AI world, your people are your greatest resource. Invest in their well-being at work, and you’ll have a team that’s enjoyable to be around AND gets things done.

All the best,

William Barton