“I need a raise.”
“Why am I always the one who has to mop the floors?”
“When will our benefits kick in again?”
“I’ve been asking for Thursdays off, but you keep scheduling me!”
Sound familiar? Employees are one of the hardest groups of people to manage, but they do make a good point. If you value their service, then you should treat them as an asset rather than an expendable presence. This doesn’t mean that you should bend over backwards to grant every wish and desire, but keeping tabs on the satisfaction of your employees can be a step in the right direction for your business.
If you are the manager in charge of human resources, then it is your responsibility to advocate for the employees of your company. Whether you are the owner, the president, the CEO, or a manager, their happiness falls into your lap. Managers who spend more time hiring new employees than visiting with the existing ones should take a moment and assess the situation. Is your turn-over higher than it used to be? What percentage of hired employees quit?
If the answers to those questions concern you, feel free to read on.
1. Know their names.
Whether you have five employees or five hundred, it is your job to know their names. I wouldn’t go as far as finding out their favorite foods and brands of toothpaste – which could be considered stalking in some states – but be considerate enough to learn the personalities of each employee. What does he or she do for the company? When was the last time he or she got a raise? Has there been an evaluation in the last six months? What do they bring to the company? Knowing these details will give you a more intimate understanding of the nuts and bolts of your company – employees are the glue that hold everything else together.
2. Accept requests for scheduling.
Employers sometimes forget that other people have obligations, too. Many of your employees may have children, other dependants, hobbies or second jobs. Leave a notepad in your office where employees can scribble requests for days and times off, and when you sit down to create the schedule, do your best to accomodate them. Obviously, if everyone asks off for Superbowl Sunday, and the business is open that day, you won’t be able to please everyone. But if you make an effort, the employees will notice.
3. Give quarterly evaluations and raises.
Or whatever policy your company abides. Maybe you only give yearly raises, which is fine, but when the year is up, take the time to enter those raises into the computer. A $1.00 raise for a full-time employee (at 40 hours per week) is an additional $1,028.00 each year. You never know who might be counting on that raise. This also helps you because evaluations give you an opportunity to find out who is performing and who isn’t. You can get rid of the employee who is always late and calling in, letting you reward the hard-working employees with a larger raise.
4. Promote those who deserve it.
If a new position opens up and you need to either promote or hire someone outside the company, reward a hard-working employee with the job. This benefits you because it minimizes the training you’ll need to perform for the position, and it will certainly make that one special employee’s day. Employers who promote from within are always well-liked and respected by their staff.
5. Issue bonuses when they’ve been earned.
Bonuses don’t always have to be monetary – though they certainly can be. If you notice that a few employees have been working extra hard, reward that effort. You might want to give them an extra $100.00 on their paycheck, or a paid day of vacation or even a small gift. No matter how small, employees appreciate that their superiors recognize their hard work and care enough to reward it.
6. If possible, offer benefits.
Even for small business owners, group health insurance packages can be obtained at affordable rates, and money isn’t the only thing that your employees worry about. Those with families to support or with prescription needs could benefit from health, dental and vision insurance. Offering that service – even if only to management employees – is a step in the right direction.
7. Be supportive, not demanding.
When things go wrong at the office or in the store, it’s easy for an employer to fly off the handle. Employees make mistakes all the time, whether from ignorance or neglect. If you’re having a problem with a particular employee, take him or her aside and explain your concerns. Ask if there is something that he or she doesn’t understand, and offer a way to help fix the problem. Sometimes, you have to be stern with staff members who simply don’t try, but give the benefit of the doubt whenever possible, and work proactively toward a solution.
8. Be available.
You might think that your door is always open, but be sure that your ears are available as well. Without a support structure, your staff will fall apart, and you have to be there to put out fires and fix problems when they arise. Unavailable employers cause resentment in the workplace, which can be easily avoidable by simply listening to what employees have to say.
9. Spread the chores.
If you have several employees who perform essentially the same function, make sure to spread out the tasks. Everyone knows that there are some chores less enjoyable than others, and one employee should not be stuck with it all the time. As the manager, your job is to delegate, which means giving everyone an opportunity to fill every position. You don’t want to be accused of playing favorites, do you?
10. Make it fun!
Even if you are the owner of a pipe cleaning company, there are ways to make the job entertaining for everyone. Have Christmas parties in December, decorate the office for Halloween and joke around with your employees. They will respect you for being personable and they will appreciate a lighter, happier environment.