Businesses devote precious time and energy to assessing, maintaining, and improving customer satisfaction. From coupons to broad return policies, to extensively researched marketing plans, most owners and managers will do anything for client loyalty. Unfortunately, in their eagerness, many overlook a crucial aspect of business/customer relations: the employees.
The savvy employer knows that a staff of disgruntled employees can slow company growth, stall productivity, and chase off customers. This means that employee satisfaction should be a priority for any business, large or small. Here are ten creative ways to assess and ensure your employees are as happy to work for you as they can possibly be.
1. Pay them (slightly) above industry standard
This is something no employer wants to do: pay more. But if you’re operating a small business — say a bookstore (and most regional bookstores start their employees at minimum wage) — and you pay yours a dollar more to start, the best candidates will be yours for the picking.
Mature and experienced workers want better wages, and mature workers stay longer (less turnover means less expense), are more productive and patient, and are often more reliable.
2. Don’t whine about health care
Some of the most disheartened employees come from businesses where the owners and managers treat them as a financial burden. For many employers, the law now mandates that workers are offered health care, which is a burdensome expense.
But if it’s a burden for your company, imagine how hard to bear it must be for Angela and her partner — who have three children — without employer support. She will feel her employer is out of touch with her needs of the owner publicly denounces the Affordable Care Act as something that will ruin his business. The lesson: keep your politics and finances out of your employees’ lives.
3. Throw off-site parties
Employers often complain that when a staff party takes place off the premises, some people don’t attend. This is no excuse for keeping a holiday party inside the confines of your employees’ cubicles.
The beauty of a party is that unlike work, it’s optional. Taking your party to a park or restaurant makes it more like fun and less like work. Especially if alcohol will be served.
4. Pay attention to an individual’s strengths
Running a successful business requires nuance and improvisation. If you hired Nancy to work as an office assistant to your accountant, but it’s clear that her strengths lie more in creativity than organization, consider reassigning her instead of remolding her.
Do you have a storefront that needs window displays? Business cards that need a facelift? A website that could use an artist’s touch? When employees feel they’ve been acknowledged for their abilities and skills, they’re happier, work harder, and feel more loyalty for the company.
5. Avoid humor
While being funny and joking around might work with your friends, it risks making your employees uncomfortable. If you don’t believe it, think you’re forming bonds via humor, then watch a few episodes of The Office.
It’s not just that Steve Carell’s character is abysmally inept at normal communication, it’s that all business owners and managers seem like jerks when they put on their clown suit, andforce their employees to laugh.
6. Give bonuses
Had a good year? Reward your employees financially. Do not buy them extra gift cards to the local Applebee’s. Do not assume they’ll want a hoodie with the company logo emblazoned upon it.
They want one thing from you: money. So when there’s extra, give it up. You’ll feel the employee satisfaction increase instantly.
7. Make meetings short
For employees, the worst part of any meeting, especially after-work-hours meetings, is the Q&A. When the meeting should be wrapping up, you give the floor to the employees, who use it to rant, complain, and drag the meeting on forever. This builds hostility between the staff, and makes you look like you’re not in control.
Here’s an alternative: have everyone email one question or comment to you after the meeting. The next day, compile those questions and comments and respond in a mass email. This is a more efficient use of everyone’s time and patience.
8. Give them a daily freebie
You’ve learned from your customers how much free stuff can motivate. So, whether it’s a latte, a parking voucher, or a snack, offer your workers something on the house, every day.
9. Be flexible about scheduling
Many companies want their employees to forsake life outside the company walls, sacrificing holidays, special events, and even impromptu trips so the daily grind will continue. But being inflexible about days off and schedules tells employees that you value them less than the dollars you’re generating — that you expect their lives to revolve around their work.
Many a work-centered life is oppressive and joyless. Give a nod to the fact that your workers are also people by adopting flexible scheduling practices and you’ll see great results.
10. Ask for feedback
More than anyone else, your employees are the ones who can tell you whether they enjoy working at your company. Designing a survey or questionnaire that encourages employee feedback anonymously is a sure-fire way to get the hard truth about how your workers feel.
While it might not all be positive, at least you’ll know where you can improve, and you’ll have a few ideas for how to get started.