Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Have you Hugged an Employee?

Many companies struggle with employee morale. Often this is because the employees simply feel like a number rather than a person. This leads to disinterest in the job, higher levels of absenteeism, and overall bad customer service. This problem is not just limited to large corporations where many employees are known only by their number - but also in smaller companies where the owner may view employees as "working for them" rather than "part of the team."

There are several ways to solve and/or prevent bad morale.

1. Beware of giving to much. Some companies try to lure employees by offering unrealistic benefits or bonuses. Over time the company can't sustain the level of benefits and have to take some of them back. This leads to employees feeling like they are being slighted. Instead offer reasonable incentives and when the company starts doing better give them something more - rather then taking away. 

2. Don't expect to much. Many big companies, in an effort to save on payroll costs, try to combine positions or redefine job titles so that a lower paid employee is required to take on higher level work without any compensation. This is especially evident when there is downsizing or other cuts. While employees who love their job or the company may be willing to do this for a short time they will quickly begin to feel abused if it continues for long periods. 

3. Make incentives matter.  There are hundreds of incentive programs available. Everything from store credit to lotteries to prizes. The problem with these is that, if used incorrectly, they can be the cause of poor morale. When prizes are handed out for every insignificant thing then the value of the recognition is lessened. When specific people always win, particularly with drawings or lotteries, then others become uninterested in the program as it appears rigged. The trick to having a good program is for it to be balanced and appear impartial.

4  Hire good people from the start.  Skills are important. But if you hire the most skilled person in the world and his attitude is bad then you will demoralize the rest of your staff. A bad attitude can be hard to detect in the interview as most people can keep it together for an hour or so. If possible talk to past employers about their performance. Check their references and, most of all, follow your instinct.

Good employee morale leads to great customer service because employees will be proud to work for the company.  They are more willing to help out with things outside of their job description, willing to promote the company (free advertising) with their friends and family, and are less likely to leave - which reduces turn over and training costs.