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?