Invest in the Best

Many printers regard staff as a cost of doing business. Actually, this perception is incorrect. A cost is an outlay of money for necessities to get things done-things like rent and office supplies. You can and should economize on costs as much as possible, since they do not affect the value of your core product or service. By contrast, your staff is an investment-the most important investment your business ever makes. An investment is an expenditure for the purpose of producing income, and it affects the value of your product or service substantially. So economizing on your investment in staff-by paying less than market rate for skilled positions, for example-misses the point. Rather, investments are judged by their potential return and have the capability of increasing profits by much more than the initial financial outlay they require. Take computers as an example. Are you likely to buy a refurbished PowerMac 7500 with 32 meg of RAM for your business? Of course not. Although you can get the machine dirt cheap, you'd probably never consider economizing to that extent on a computer. Instead, you'd probably look for a G5 or G4 with 512 meg of RAM or better, because you know that the 32-meg limitation would greatly reduce your productivity. It would be a bad investment.* Now take a look at your staff, using the three hints below to distinguish between the 512s and the 32s on your payroll:

Hint # 1: Productivity Level

Good employees generate high productivity per dollar of salary cost through their competence, positive attitude, energy, initiative, and sense of responsibility. Not only are bad employees far less productive, but they can also generate unwanted costs and delays through mistakes, negligence, or apathy. Bad employees also tend to reduce the productivity of others besides themselves, because everyone around them has to take up their slack. Furthermore, bad employees require higher maintenance in many forms--from extra supervision and training when they lack skills, to disciplinary action for absenteeism, to lengthy documentation before termination, to costly rehiring of replacements.

Hint # 2: People Skills

Good employees are effective team players, who are respectful and pleasant to be around and communicate well. They exhibit personal integrity, encourage others, and can gain their confidence and co-operation. As managers, they foster an open work environment where, instead of killing initiative in other employees by micro managing, they spark their creativity and empower them to contribute more to the business.

Conversely, the poor people skills of bad employees erode trust and a company's positive public image and can actually drive away customers. Additionally, when good employees see a poor performer rewarded by being kept on the payroll, it has a depressing effect on their quality of work and morale. This situation may not only prompt good employees to leave; it also sends a message to promising new recruits that the company is not a place where they would want to work.

Bad employees are difficult enough as co-workers but downright terrible as managers. Since their incompetence breeds insecurity, they resist giving up control by refusing to share information or empower others. Rather than affirm the people around them, they tend to drain and exhaust them, keeping them unsettled and putting them down in an effort to make themselves look better. And of course, they never hire excellent staff for fear of being shown up, surrounding themselves instead with lackeys who present no challenge to their shaky authority.

Hint # 3: Learning Aptitude

Good employees exhibit flexibility and can learn and keep on learning as their job expands. They search for solutions and improvements and, unlike inferior employees, provide great suggestions and strategies to help their employer's company grow more profitable.

Hiring takes time & resources

Although 60% of corporate budgets typically go toward employee expenses, a recent study of major North American companies shows that on average hiring managers spend no more than 45 seconds to decide whether to accept or reject a job applicant's resume. Such a rushed approach to hiring increases the likelihood of a bad outcome. Conversely, the right recruitment methods and selection tools can greatly improve the odds of success. For companies looking to maximize the time and resources it takes to do a thorough job of hiring, perhaps the best solution is to enlist the help of an experienced staffing specialist. The main goal is for each new hire to be a profitable investment instead of a cost for your business.