The Key To Employee Satisfaction Is Care And Attention
By Business Desk
Tuesday, September 13, 2016.
When your business grows to the point where you need to hire other people to help you, you've made it. Your little idea has now blossomed into something that doesn't just sustain you, but can help make a real difference in the lives of others.
For most, the idea of being an employer is a bizarre one. Few entrepreneurs launch their endeavors without having been an employee first. The idea of swapping roles can almost be daunting - and it's not a task to be taken lightly.
The role of boss and employees is never going to be equal. Some bosses decide they will offer friendship to their employees, but it can never be that way. There is a line between the two and there's good reason for it. The power balance is always going to shift to the employer, and everyone involved is going to know it.
At the same time, employees are the vital organs that keeps your body of business pumping. If the relationship is doomed to be unequal, then does that mean it can't flourish? What do employees actually want from a boss and the company they work for?
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If you want to get it right, then there's good reason to do so. The happier people are at work, the more productive they are. So by investing time and money into making sure you're creating the right environment for staff, you're on to a winner.
As a starting point, there're a few ideas to consider. You don't have to implement them all at once; even a few grouped together will make a difference. You might not be able to be your employee's friend - but you can be the best boss they've ever had.
Zero-hours contracts are a blight of the modern business world. While they offer some benefits to you as the owner, the damage they do to staff morale is horrific. What's more, 41% of people on a zero hours contract have a second job, compared to 12% of regular staff. Do you really want your staff to be distracted, in the thrall of another employer? They're not going to be able to give their best to either job, and your business will suffer as a result.
Even if you can't offer full contracts, at least let people know where they stand on a month-to-month basis. Only posting rotas a week in advance is a recipe for disaster. Some things - such as medical appointments - can't be changed around that quickly.
People generally want to know what they're doing and when also. Include on rotas general assignments for a shift, so you're sure each area is covered - and your staff are too. It can make it easier to cover for an absence also, as everyone immediately knows where they need to step up.
As a boss, you can fall into the trap of not quite seeing your employees as people. They become little worker bees, buzzing and helping you build your empire.
But they are people, and that means they're going to have issues. For example, you may set work hours that means people have to be at work for 6 am. At that time, public transport is not an option. It's up to you for you to solve this problem for your workers who don't drive, rather than just setting a start time without understanding the issues. You can't just tell people to deal with it if there is literally no way for them to get to work.
For the above example, thinking outside the box can fix the issues. You can encourage a company rideshare scheme, which has environmental benefits also. Or you can look into shuttle services. While not cheap, it's less expensive than having workers quit because they can't make the hours. It's an investment worth considering, so do your research and discover more at Ride Right or an equivalent to see if it can work for you.
The same applies to mobile phones in the office. Yes, the capacity for distraction is enormous. But for staff with young children or other caring responsibilities, the idea of not being contactable is terrifying. So you have two options to choose from. Staff can have their phones but without Wifi access; they might still turn on data, though you can block this if you choose. This means they can still be contacted in an emergency, without the time-sucking distraction of the internet.
Alternatively, install a phone line, the only purpose for which should be emergency contact with staff. Don't use it for any other purpose, and reassure staff that it will always be free if someone needs to get through to them.
If your staff know you are thinking about the practical elements of their job, then they will thank you for it. If you consider where people buy their lunch or how they get to work, then it shows you don't see them as worker bees at all. If an employee feels you are doing your best to do right by them, then they'll try and do right by you.
3. A strict code of conduct.
It may seem strange - isn't being strict the kind of thing we're all meant to hate? But this goes hand-in-hand with the first point about reliability. People need to know where they stand, where the lines are and what happens if they cross them.
It doesn't take a lot of effort to put together a code of conduct for your company. Give it to all newly hired staff and quiz them on it if you wish, so you know the message has gotten through.
This, however, is not an excuse for running a workplace with terrible conditions. Sports Direct have recently been criticized for their "Victorian practices" - you don't want to be the next headline. Don't time people when they go to the bathroom, but do ask them to clock in and out so you can identify excess time wasting. If you must monitor your staff closely, do it in such a way that they don't particularly know about it.
4. Proper break times - and at the same time.
Yes, there are government rules in place which dictate how much of a break that people should have. But many of us will have worked in an occupation where they're not strictly adhered to. It's never company policy of course - that's illegal - but there can be a silent pressure not to take breaks, or cut them short.
Think about why there is legislation to give workers a break after a set period of work. Some of it is for human rights reasons, but it benefits employers as well. A tired worker is going to lose focus, and the result of that can be that you lose money. As a result, it benefits you to give at bare minimum the breaks that are legislated for in employment law.
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There is a modern trend for breaks to be given at random times. This can lead to a worker never knowing when they will have a moment to catch their breath. If people know they are working towards a specific point on the clock or completion of a designated task, they are more likely to focus on it. At the very least, tell people when their breaks will be on a daily basis at the start of a shift.
5. Someone they can go to with problems.
If you have a large company, sometimes staff can be unsure who they should take a problem to. Then there is the added problem of what happens if their issue is with their direct supervisor. If your employees feel they don't know where to take an issue - be it personal or work-related - then they are less likely to discuss it. This brings us back to productivity and unhappy staff, something you're trying to avoid.
People should always be able to give anonymous feedback; there might even be good ideas in there. The people at the coal face, so to speak, will have the best idea of how to run it. A plan might sound good in the boardroom, but be a nightmare on the floor. No employee who wants to keep their job is going to directly tell their boss they have got it wrong, but they might do it anonymously. The only way you will ever get anywhere in business is by listening to people, so make it clear that suggestions are always welcome.
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As for a person to take a problem with, have a chain of command and issue it in employee handbooks. That way, if someone needs to leapfrog a level due to other issues, they know where to turn. This chain should go right up to you, the boss, so someone always has an option.
In conclusion, allow your employees to be heard. Don't forget they are people with their own lives and concerns. All you have to do is learn to bring their working life and their home life into accord, and your business will be the one to benefit from it.