In the midst of employee layoffs and pay freezes, many employees are in a tense and dispirited mood. During the earlier months of the downturn, employee productivity increased higher than at any time in the last decade. But now employees are starting to face burnout.
Recent surveys indicate that almost 30% of layoff survivors are considering leaving their current employer when the economic recovery picks up. Among your key positions and top performers, you may soon be facing labor shortages. What can you do now to encourage, motivate and show a little appreciation for your employees?
Remove the De-motivators
Remove any atmosphere of distrust. If you secretly feel that employees are basically lazy and untrustworthy, those feelings will show. If you’re not happy with the performance of your employees, you are identifying a management problem more than an employee problem.
Understand and recognize that employees are also your customers. Also understand that each employee is an individual and thinks like one. You can’t survive without these folks.
Stop having low expectations. Ski Giczewski, president and owner of Designs Scapes of Sarasota, FL, attributes much of the high performance of his award-winning team to his management style. “I have high expectations of our people, I expect superior performance, and I find that you will usually get what you expect,” Giczewski says.
Remove the demanding and restrictive rules and policies. Companies with 20 employees and a 100-page employee handbook full of small print and legal jargon create a wall between the company and their employees. Keep rules and policies to a minimum and make them reasonable and easy to understand. Check the wording for respectful terminology. These are not naughty children or inmates to be dominated.
Stop the inner sanctum of secrecy. Communicate, communicate and communicate. Let employees know what is happening in the company. Any new products or services being planned? What’s happening now that may affect them next week? Do you have a newsletter? E-mail and the Internet make it much easier to communicate these days. Make every employee and insider.
Clean the place up. A dismal, dirty or unpleasant workplace makes people feel dismal, dirty and unpleasant. Prisons are designed to be harsh, and colorless, made of concrete and steel, full of lifeless sounds and sights. That’s because they want from their prisoners just the opposite of what you want from your employees. They want intimidation, obedience and no action. You want trust, self-starters and productivity. Brightness, color and attractive are the words for your workplace.
Eliminate problems before they fester. Respond to complaints and resolve problems—and don’t wait them out hoping they’ll go away. Be fair and ethical. Employees long remember ignored complaints or unresolved problems. Unions do not organize companies by promising higher wages. They organize companies by seeking out and listening to problems that are not being resolved.
Resolve Concerns About Pay
Money is not even in the top five things employees want in a job, but it needs to be addressed before anything else can be effective. If employees feel underpaid, this must be resolved either by making the proper adjustment or by letting them know why this is not possible or when it will be resolved.
Is the employee (or all employees) currently being underpaid? Are they actually at a competitive pay rate already, or even above it? Let them know. Can you issue bonuses instead of pay increases? Whether through explanation and understanding or by agreeing to a time when this can be resolved, the pay issue must first be dealt with.