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Keep Employees Happy; Put morale and engagement in the job description

What if employee morale and employee engagement were part of every job description. What if in addition to words like analyze, prepare, oversee, monitor, collaborate, and review we saw words like build morale, institute fun, and engage coworkers throughout the organization? What if a key role of every job description was to keep employees happy? What would that look like?

Clearly there would not be a spreadsheet or a piece of software that could do that? Clearly to keep employees happy we would need to spend less time analyzing and more time keeping people happy. We would need to stop preparing for building morale and actually start doing some morale building. We would not need to monitor and review morale. Smiles, low absenteeism, people showing up to work on time, and low turnover would be as clear as day. You would not need a task force if every employee knew it was his or her responsibility from day one.

What would it look like if everyone’s job included keeping employees happy? 

Might we have to start providing interesting workloads? Might we need to make their work, dare I say it, Fun? Might we have to be open and honest in our communication? Might we have to not only listen to people’s ideas, but actually implement some of them? Might we allow people’s creativity to be expressed in their work; even if their work is mortgage appraisals or accounting or something else deemed drab, boring or dull? Might we need to offer a regular “Recess” of sorts to get people engaged; an opportunity for professional development? What would it take to keep employees happy?

Remember, our mantra for 2010 is Every Employee Happy. Every Day. Every Employee Engaged. Every Day. If it was part of your job to make sure your coworkers were happy, what would you do?

Now go do it. You don’t need a job description to tell you how or why to do a good thing.

2010; Keep Employees Happy; Every Employee Happy. Every Day.

Every Employee Happy. Every Day.

Every Employee Engaged. Every Day.

Some of you have seen the above on my email signature. If you haven’t; I’m putting it out there right now for the rest of the world to see. It’s what I’m striving for beginning January 1, 2010

Can we do it?

Of course not. I’m a dreamer. A cheerleader. I’m unrealistic. It is also “helpful” that some people were destined to be miserable; and sadly…. enjoy being miserable. What is up with those people anyway; and I still say we should start one company and just let them all work there. We can call it MISERInc. Use bailout money if we have to; that would be a good use of funds; keeping the miserable people at bay has got to have value. But I digress. 

Now in addition to miserable people some companies are just not as committed to the idea and philosophy of a happy and engaged workforce. But then there are others like McDonald’s, Iroquois Pipeline and Covidien, organizations that I had the opportunity to work with this year. They believe it needs to be done. They recognize the importance of celebrating success and contribution. They understand that to keep employees happy and get people engaged/re-engaged in their work requires a commitment to the talented people who work in those organizations.

Will you join me?

So what will it take to keep every employee happy? To keep every employee engaged?

  • Will it take money?
  • Will it take embracing more expression of individual creativity in people’s work?
  • Will it take fewer policies and rules?
  • Will it take a work environment that lends itself to happiness?
  • Will it take workload redesign?
  • Will it take allowing people to change roles?
  • Will it take better communication and listening?
  • Will it take respect?
  • Will it take a commitment to training?
  • Will it be the responsibility of both the employee and the employer?
  • Will it take……………………?

I’ve been reading lots of information this year about pay cuts and benefit reductions by companies large and small. Let’s be clear that these are not coming back anytime soon; perhaps at all. Do I need to repeat that for the other unrealistic ones? They are not coming back. But then again I’m unrealistic; so maybe they will come back? Just like the income tax in CT is to be abolished. We were told a long long time ago it was just temporary. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

But now more than ever is time to encourage professional growth and development and to include more people in the process of making your organization great. Flatten the chain of command. Knock down the secret meeting doors and join me in 2010 as I embark on a motto/credo/vision of Every Employee Happy. Every Day. 

So the only question that remains is……….

Are you up for the task?

 

Keep Employees Happy; 3 simple ideas for the New Year

Go ahead, ask your employees/co-workers to name three companies in your region that seem like cool, fun, or exciting places to work and why they think that is the case. Now ask them what your company needs to do to become one of those three. Then ask yourself what can or will you do to make that happen.

Everyone is looking forward to 2010. It is amazing how many think on January 1st all will be better. The recession will be gone. Companies will start hiring. Foreclosures will be on the downswing. Credit will loosen up.

I’ve got news for you; probably not going to happen. This bumpy ride is not going to miraculously smooth out overnight. But there is one thing I know for sure……..In order to keep employees happy and engaged, employers will need to do a few things. Here are just three of many I am pushing for in 2010. They won’t require much of a budget; but they might bring about employee loyalty – something every CEO and HR Executive is looking for these days.

  • Be flexible. And I’m not talking flexible hours; I’m talking flexibility. People understand that times are different; some might even say tough. They understand what leaner times mean. They understand what more with less means. Now Mr. or Ms. Boss/CEO/VP/Manager needs to realize what it means. It means not watching the clock. It means relaxing some of the rules that even you know make no sense. It means giving them time to get personal things done – perhaps during the “traditional” workday. After all, to keep employees happy you need to remember that they have a life that needs tending to on occasion.
  • Action Step: Identify one or two individuals who seem to always be in the office. Give them a couple of hours off this afternoon. Tell them to go do some holiday shopping or just enjoy the sights of the season.
  • Stop the gossip! Workplace gossip has grown out of control; to the point where some organizations now have No Gossip policies. I don’t think this is a bad idea. But a no gossip policy is not about slapping people’s hands and disciplining people for water cooler chat; a workplace gossip policy must be about Truth in Communication. Employees need to be allowed to ask questions, feel free to ask questions, and expect they will receive honest and truthful answers – no matter how bad the news may be. Remember, information is not power; information is opportunity to keep employees happy, loyal and engaged.
  • Action Step: Gather your team together and formulate a No Gossip policy. This should not be difficult, not require a task force and should be implementable within 24 hours.
  • Opportunities to learn and network. I recently spoke to a group of HR Executives and questioned them as to how they could see the value of outside networking yet not have a similar program available to every employee within the organization. The looks were everywhere from “he’s right” to “how dare I say that to them?”  I wanted an answer as to why it was it okay for them to attend a monthly meeting (and on company time in many cases) of their peers, yet most people in their organization were not offered the same opportunity. While some companies might seem to think that leaner times mean reducing or eliminating the training/networking budget, there are companies who disagree. Trust me, your employees will be seeking jobs at those companies soon – very soon.
  • Action Step: Ask every employee to identify a low or no cost opportunity for them to learn or network. Schedule their first one for early 2010

If you want your business to thrive and your customers to be happy in 2010 you need to start talking about what you can do to keep employees happy. These three ideas should be a start.  Are you up for the task?

Keep Employees Happy: How come there aren’t signs welcoming people to work?

When I enter a retail establishment, hotel, or restaurant often times there are signs that welcome me. I’ve seen signs that read Welcome, We’re glad you’re here, or Please tell us what we can do for you today. There are times when I walk into a corporation and I see a welcome sign or marquis listing for someone important who might be visiting that day. It seems that many companies make an investment in welcoming guests/visitors/customers.

Now in most of the retail cases I wish they would just leave it at the sign and then leave me alone. Like the other afternoon for instance I was navigating a Pier 1 Imports store, trying to spend a gift certificate someone had given me, and I could not seem to race down an aisle or into a corner where some perky little employee couldn’t wait to help me. As a quick aside, to my female readers; don’t give a guy a gift certificate to Pier 1. The smell alone when you walk in there is enough to make us want to gag. Worse is then going home to your spouse or the other guys and have to explain why you smell like potpourri. But I did buy a cool bird carrot peeler and a purple (my favorite color) baking dish.

So these signs started to get me thinking……

How come employees aren’t welcomed to work? Wouldn’t it be great if you walked in the door and it said:

Welcome to Work! We’re Glad You’re Here!

Or perhaps

Welcome to Work! We’re Proud of Your Contribution!

Or perhaps

Welcome! You matter!

Or perhaps

Yay! You Came Back to Play with Us Today!

 

Why is it that we invite and thank customers into our places of business but there aren’t signs thanking the people who keep those customers coming back………Or coming at all?

Companies are always looking for ways to keep employees happy; a great way – and it’s cheap – is to thank them.

It’s not that hard to keep employees happy. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. But a thank you or a pat on the back on a regular basis makes a huge difference in the minds of the people who keep your company running. When was the last time you thanked someone?

So let’s continue our dream…………

Imagine as you were leaving work each day you read signs like………

Thanks for your contribution!

Or

You rock!

Or

Thanks for your enthusiasm and ideas!

Or

Yay! It’s still light out and you’re going home!

 

Now I do have to say when I walked into a client location a while back and saw my name on their lobby marquis I was pretty excited. Why not have a marquis that thanks employees. It could be random names in a slideshow type format running at the exits. Perhaps people could nominate others for a significant contribution they made that week. People would be excited; seeing their name or the name of someone they nominated. Nah, skip that idea; my concern is we would get back into the Flavor of the Month or the top performers only. I think everyone that walks through the door needs to be recognized and thanked for their contribution: the CEO, cleaning staff, administrative types; managers; everyone!

I also think you would need to change the signs or marquis text on a regular basis; because after a while they would become meaningless to the people walking in and out the door. You can form a committee or task force to come up with fun sayings. The life of this committee should be two hours; not two months.

Try it and watch the reaction. It’s really not that hard or that expensive to do something to keep employees happy. Make it part of your daily to-do list.