Atmosphere is important to small businesses, particularly ones that are service-oriented, such as restaurants or eateries. Making sure that your employees are content and get along well can help create the inviting, friendly atmosphere you need for your business to succeed. Achieving this goal will require you to put on your psychologist’s cap and find ways to appeal to your employees’ sense of loyalty, self-worth and self-interest.
While it’d be logical to assume that in this tight economy, people who have jobs would be glad to have employment, recent research suggests otherwise. A recent survey conducted by a consulting firm shows that only about 52 percent of employees surveyed were found to be engaged in their work. Employee engagement essentially is a measure of employees knowledge of their jobs and willingness to do them.
Low employee engagement can be a problem for businesses, for although employees with a low level of engagement will perform their duties, they won’t perform them to the best of their ability and won’t be on the look out for ways to improve their work or your business. Terminating unengaged employees may not be the best option because of the personal cost involved in firing an employee and the business costs of finding new and training new workers who may not be much more engaged than your old ones. A better path for small business owners may be improving the engagement of their employees.
Research indicates that highly engaged employees are employees who feel supported by management, trust management, understand how performance is evaluated in their business and who are managed effectively by their bosses.
Recent research by Gallup Inc. researchers show that employees with positive perceptions of their jobs create work environments with high employee retention and customer loyalty and improved financial results.
Consistent policies – Having consistent expectations and policies is important to creating a good work environment for employees. All employees should be treated equally in terms of expectations and the rewards and consequences for their actions at work. This creates certainty for employees, who will know what activities are encouraged and which activities are frowned upon by employers. Consistent application of the rules also reduces conflict among employees who may become resentful if one employee is given priviledges or breaks that other employees don’t receive.
Honesty – Employers should strive to be honest with employees about the financial condition of the company and their own careers. Misrepresentation, broken promises or outright lies do not help to create a good work atmosphere. Employers shouldn’t disclose sensitive information about the business or other employees, but should level with their employees about the general health of the business and their career prospects.
Recognition and appreciation – By recognizing the achievements of employees, you make them feel like a more valued member of your team. Recognition can be anything from a simple congratulation on a job well done to a formal award noting an achievement such as meeting a sales goal or providing excellent customer service. Making employees feel valued will increase their dedication to your business, and will result in increased productivity by committed employees.
Open-door policy – Employees should be able to voice concerns or polite criticisms to their employers without fear of retribution. Employees should not be allowed to disrespectfully harangue their employers about work or other employees, but a respectful airing of grievances or concerns should be allowed. Allowing employees to freely speak to their employers can help employers see decisions in another light, have a closer feel for the pulse of their workforce and bring problems or opportunities to their attention that they might otherwise have been unaware of.
Autonomy – Giving employees the opportunity to direct their own work gives them a greater sense of pride in their work and loyalty to their employer. There are a variety of ways employers can give trusted employees autonomy, such as allowing them to set their own work schedules, delegating responsibility for certain aspects of the business to them, etc. Employers should check to make sure the autonomy is producing better results, but by allowing employees to work their own way, they will often be surprised by the increased quality of work they receive in return.
Pitch in – Employees will be more loyal to an employer who rolls up his or her sleeves and helps out with some of the less pleasant aspects of the business. By volunteering to cover an employee’s shift during a holiday, helping with clean-up or working late alongside your employees during work days that demand expanded hours, you create an atmosphere of shared responsibility and camraderie with your workers. Employers who sit in the ivory tower of the office are less likely to be liked and respected by their employees than those who get a little dirty alongside their workers.
Incentives – By offering raises or chances at promotion, employers can help their employees feel more invested in the course of the business, and more willing to work to their best ability.
Raises and promotions aren’t the only way to boost employee performance, however. Employers can also improve employee job satisfaction by offering other incentives, such as work competitions between teams of employees, company events, days off for meeting performance goals, discounts, etc.
By giving your employees a carrot, you ensure that you likely won’t have to use a stick later.
Conflict Resolution – Employers should keep a close eye on how their employees are interacting with one another. Employers should take steps to prevent interpersonal conflicts among employees from affecting business, working with employees to settle conflicts in a professional and peaceful manner.
Employees should be encouraged to interact in a professional and friendly manner, and there should be clear lines about what type of conduct is unacceptable in your place of business.
By working to create a good work environment, employers can boost the job satisfaction of their employees and increase productivity and customer satisfaction as well.