With economic conditions for small business owners becoming more challenging everyday, it is important to maintain high employee morale. Most workers today are dealing with being understaffed, overworked and stressed regarding future job employment. This can lead to serious customer service and quality control issues for businesses. Keeping clients happy and loyal to you is necessary for survival against the competition. Employee turnover is bad business and comes with costs that can add additional strains to the bottom line.
Here are five key points to maintaining a positive work environment.
The rumor mill in a small business work environment can all but kill a business. Remember the telephone game as a child. One person would make a comment and by the time it reached the fourth or fifth person the information became distorted. The same applies to rumors. It is important to let your staff know how important they are, how the business is fairing, and that they are a important asset. Be honest and squash the rumors. Most businesses have cycles that most long term employees are aware of. Don’t pass off a “slow” month as being “amazing.” Employees know better. Be honest and let them know that although the month hasn’t fared as well you would have liked but it is typical of the business cycle. Address any other concerns that may be “floating around the office.”
Many years ago, I worked for a large truck publicly traded rental company that was in the process of “employee layoffs.” We all knew it was coming, but what made the blow much easier to deal with was the supervisor who dealt the bad news. He “insisted” that when he was notified of a pending layoffs, he would immediately contact that employee. Why? His answer was, “That person has family, bills and responsibilities. They need time to prepare.” That two week notification or longer, allowed most of those facing layoffs to find employment or make necessary financial arrangements. This earned the supervisor respect from those that were left and employee morale never faltered. Today’s environment has changed regarding layoff notification, which currently has for most security walking the fired employee out the door. That creates a negative work environment for the rest of the staff whose performance will reflect that.
Although most companies have put a “hold” on current raises and promotions, rewards can still be given. Simple items such as gift cards, taking staff to lunch, or allowing a early release from work, can help to maintain morale. The bottom line cost to small businesses is minimal. Small business that accrue “points” for credit card transactions can attain the rewards for free by “cashing” them in.
Today’s businesses need to “recreate the wheel.” This means that the way business was done in the past may not be sufficient to ensure a future. Many employees can offer a fresh insight on how to grow the business, cut costs, or make important changes. FedEx has made a commercial based on the same premise, where a employee came up with the idea to save the company money and time by using their service. It has been very successful. This kind of fostering, can also save a small business the expense of hiring a outside consultant to provide the same information.
Open Door Policy
The Open Door policy originated back in 1885 according to Wikipedia.com as a part a agreement that one power can not dominate over another in foreign policy. Today, it is applied domestically to mean open communication at anytime between parties. This policy should be expressed to staff so that concerns can be discussed. A Open Door Policy helps to make employees feel secure in asking questions, discussing key company problems or any personal concerns.
Although there are many qualified job applicants available in the marketplace today, replacing staff is never a easy or smooth transaction. Maintaining employee morale will ensure that key staff members will be productive and provide benefits to maintaining profits, sales and loyal clients.