The contented cow syndrome – how to keep a happy herd and keep them from wandering off:
- We know that contented cows give more milk and it’s the same with workers – contented workers produce more.
- Identify realistic expectations about the job, responsibilities, and the organization.
- Ensure there is a fundamental match between the job and the person hired to do it – personality styles, work styles, communication and conflict management styles as well as team vs. individual focus. When there is an alignment between personal and organizational values and goals, there is a better fit and longer retention and less stress for the worker.
- Offer frequent feedback and open communication about the person and their work – let them know how they’re doing and acknowledge their efforts. Generation X and Y, in particular have been used to getting feedback every 60 seconds on how they were doing with computer games. A once per year evaluation isn’t going to cut it.
- Focus on flexibility for family and work and ensure there is a good work-life balance program so workers don’t feel overwhelmed, stressed out, burnt-out and rusted out trying to juggle personal and professional responsibilities.
- Cultivate trust, confidence, and honest, open communication between all levels – show you genuinely care for people and combine the heart and the head level in people to bring out the best in them.
Blah –buster tips for beating depression in the workforce:
- Recent labor studies found that depression costs companies nearly $12 billion in lost work each year and more than $11 billion in other costs accrued from decreased productivity. Here are some tips to improve on those statistics.
- Exercise and a healthy diet combined with vitamins.
- Expressing emotions verbally with a therapist or a friend or through journaling.
- Fresh air and sunshine, or at least full-spectrum lighting that mimics the sun’s rays. Studies have found that people are 25% more productive when using full-spectrum lighting and natural light as compared to fluorescent lighting.
Satisfaction with your work, feeling successful and that you are doing something that matters. Find out what you’re good at, what ignites your passion, and what can combine your preferences with a good income.
Over the years I’ve interviewed many hundreds of clients in what they do to keep their customers, care for their clients, and show their colleagues they really matter in more ways than the obvious. I’ve compiled some of my favorites for you to glean from them on what they’re doing right to reach out and show their workplace love.
- Surprise your team and take them to lunch, to a mall with $50 each and tell them they must spend it all on themselves and whoever has money left over will give it back to you.
- If you are game – or in good financial standing – take them on a trip or a cruise such as Phillips International’s Chairman, Tom Phillips who took 1350 employees and their families on a Disney Cruise to celebrate the company’s 30th anniversary. Meeting planners who are interested in cruises as incentive programs can visit www.corporatecruises.com for deck plans and virtual tours of 360 ships and an online RFP service as well as destination info and tax-deductibility guidelines. Another site for unbiased info on cruises and destinations is www.cruisecritic.com. Bon Voyage!
- Forget the Euro – time is the currency of the new millennium and giving the gift of time is a powerful incentive. Almost 40% of Americans now work more than 50 hours per week (National Sleep Foundation) and Americans work up to 12 weeks more in total hours per year than Europeans with 26% of all US employees not taking a vacation according to a study by Boston College. Many companies are now offering perks and incentives to help employees gain back some time such as giving them the services of a lawn care company, pest control, monthly house cleaning, or having a car detailer visit the workplace. ServiceMaster offers these types of home services on a large scale across the country.
- One of my early clients, Northwestern Mutual has a dry cleaner pick up and deliver clothes to the workplace. Their dry cleaner also offered to accept Fed Ex packages for workers during the holidays and then deliver them to the workplace to avoid having holiday packages sit on doorsteps or having to drive to the Fed Ex shop to pick them up. They also offer several clubs and affinity groups in their organization such as a choral group, a band, and professional associations for staff to meet others with similar interests and promote loyalty and a sense of community. People are less likely to leave a community of friends than a company of cubicles.
- Below are ideas from various clients on what they’re doing to show they care about their teammates:
- Help keep employees healthy and informed about their health and well-being to reduce your costs for sick-leave, mental-health day absences, retention, and insurance claims. Here are some tips for planning a wellness program excerpted from Human Capital Magazine:
- Provide people with the facts, and raise awareness regarding the risks of being overweight.
- Help them identify risk factors including Body Mass Index and blood pressure.
- Empower employees to change and provide them with the knowledge and tools to improve their situation – books, trainers, coaches, nurses, health club memberships, time off each week to work out, seminars, seated massages, healthy choices in the cafeteria, and smoking cessation or Weight Watchers classes.
- Implement a total wellness program into your menu of options for employees – more than an exercise program, it includes a combination of activities that focus on health promotion and disease prevention and healthy, active lifestyles.
- The Society for Human Resource Management’s annual survey of several hundred employee benefit managers found that 31% subsidize or reimburse gym membership fees, 22% provide on-site fitness centers, 24% offer weight-loss programs, and 11% offer nutrition counseling.
- One high-tech company in Washington DC gave employees a stipend for monthly house cleaning and yard work to allow them extra time to work out – no excuses for not having enough time.
- A survey by Career Builder.com found that the majority of workers are dissatisfied with their career progress with 63% reporting that finding a better job would improve their quality of life.
What are you doing for your team to energize them and help increase their quality of life at work? How are you showing your team that you care about them in more ways than giving them a paycheck?
Seems we can’t get away without having meetings. Communication is a key element to empowered workplaces and effective employee morale. But it seems that so many get it wrong when it comes to hosting meetings. What is up with that? To help pump up the effectiveness of meetings; I share the following tips.
If your meetings are becoming stale, try www.effectivemeetings.com with lots of tidbits for running terrific meetings.
Improve your all-employee meetings
- Draw on the experience of top performers and celebrate the successes of others – have them share their stories.
- Work actively with professional speakers to familiarize them with your organization.
- Encourage informal interaction with round tables and allow for socializing activities.
- If you are presenting awards: staff should participate in the selection of rewards.
- Employers should reward measurable activities or a point system.
- Offer reward that have some brag value – offering cash may be fleeting.
- Recognize employees who talk up the company and spread good words.
Improve morale with the five R’s
- Rewards: check competitor’s salaries, perks, and benefits packages and exceed it or get more creative to retain top talent.
- Room to grow: offer a chance to grow professionally and personally and advance skills through a mentoring program, promotions, and training.
- Recognition: Practice regular formal and informal praise and appreciation. Generation X and the incoming Millennials are used to getting feedback every 60 seconds with computer games and expect to know where they stand and get noticed for it. We tend to get antsy just waiting for our computers to download and that’s only 22 seconds. An annual appraisal won’t cut it.
- Respect: Make a determined effort to listen with an open mind and show genuine respect to avoid the “Because I’m the boss” attitude.
- Reasonable Workloads: Productivity will decline if workers are expected to produce 110% all the time. People need time to renew and refresh to avoid burnout and especially since September 11th, we need to understand that there will be a general defocus in work and productivity. Offer flexible work schedules, job sharing, telecommuting, and compressed workweeks.
When employees do not feel empowered, nor energized by an organization (or their boss), they fly the coop. These are some signs that may point to the exit door for you or your colleagues. If you notice anything familiar, you may want to take a look at your morale-boosting programs:
- You are no longer learning – when there is little personal or professional growth left, it’s time for a new challenge.
- You feel sick and tired or a sense of dread and fatigue along with possible headaches, colds can be a physical sign of unhappiness at work.
- You just don’t care – when we get to “I don’t care”, our soul dies and we need to find soul food elsewhere.
- You’ve strayed from your path and find yourself in a place that was meant to be temporary, but just got convenient. Just because you have the skills and aptitude for a job doesn’t mean you should necessarily be doing it.
- Your quality of life is suffering or your work is infringing on too much of your personal life.
- Take a look at your options – would a flex-schedule solve some of your problems, a new job in a different department, or a new industry?
- Take the tingle test – if you talk about your current job out loud – do you get the chills of excitement talking about it? What gives you the tingles when you think about making a living at it?
4 tips to retain your external customers:
- Ensure your customers can get what they want without leaving your facility or website – build an unbeatable bundle of products and services for one-stop shopping and be willing to customize to their needs.
- Don’t forget incentives for customers as well as employees. Baby boomers especially like the loyalty cards where they earn special treatment. Frequent flier miles are like Pokeman for adults. Offer a gift, discounts, insider info, or special offers.
- Create a community of customers and give them additional ways to connect to you and to each other through your website or other events or programs to offer service after the sale.
- Be available when your customers need you, give a 100% satisfaction guarantee (Fun*cilitators does this and has not had any requests for refunds.), stand behind your product and services and generate sincere trust amongst your community.
It’s Spring Cleaning time and you get the benefit of culling through the stacks of articles and information I’ve accumulated over the years.
- American Express Incentive Services commissioned a survey of employees to see what they wanted in a reward. They found that 62 percent wanted the freedom to choose their own reward. They wanted a say in what they received in the manner of gift cards where they could use them for a dinner out, new CD’s, DVD rentals, a BBQ set, new shoes, movie tickets, or whatever else that suited them at the time. So say goodbye to plaques and hello to pre-paid gift cards that have multiple uses.
- If you are tired of meetings where nobody is contributing their share of solutions to the day’s challenges, then tell them that their admission ticket to the next meeting will be an index card with an original idea or their take on a solution to a pre-stated challenge written on it. Collect the tickets at the door and start the meeting by reading each card to the group to generate more active participation and engage them.
- Did you know that compared to the 1970’s, people today work 20% longer hours and have 32% less leisure time? In the past 30 years, psychologists estimate that workplace stress has doubled – along with the increase in stress levels of mixing business with family matters.
- A survey by careerbuilder.com revealed that 60% of the nation’s workforce finds it difficult to be professionally successful and sufficiently involved in family/social life. Over 74% said tele-work is the most desired perk, and 49% said they deliberately sought out flexible work environments during their last job hunt. What are you doing to help your workers balance their personal and professional lives?
- In the spirit of getting along in the workplace and increasing understanding between Generation X, Boomers, and Traditionalists, here are some sites that give some insight into “What the heck do they mean and why on Earth are they acting that way?”.
General Generation info and links to other sites addressing the issues:
www.millenials.com, and www.generationsatwork.com
Nexters: www.growingupdigital.com, www.northwesternmutual.com/2001/summary-main.html, and www.millenials.com/ltm/ltm.html
- Research from ComPsych – the world’s largest employee assistance program provider shares their recent findings on employee stress at work. 48% of workers report high levels of stress mixed with extreme fatigue and a sense of feeling out of control. Among that 48%, there were 41% who cited their workload as the culprit, 31% said it was people issues, and 28% of those with high levels of stress said it was juggling work and personal life that stressed them out so much. The next group of workers, 38% cited they experienced constant, but manageable stress levels, and 14% said they had low stress levels. What are you doing to manage your stress levels or those of your team so they will be more gruntled and less disgruntled and grumpy?
As a Certified Laughter Leader for over a decade; I feel the need to share some resources and statistics with you on the benefits of laughter at home and in the workplace to help reduce stress. Just 20-30 minutes per session of the laugh exercises help reduce stress, diminish social isolation, and improve general well-being. It’s a hoot and it’s a hit!
The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor: www.aath.org is a big proponent of laughter, humor in your life and the benefits of Laughter Clubs and just plain laughter. Many members are in the healthcare field and who bring humor and healing together in different environments. Others of us were speakers and facilitators who help bring humor to life and to businesses to help people deal with stress or change, or tragedy.
The organization is a leader in the scientific side of the benefits of laughter and humor. AATH is the expert resource center for research on what we all know to be true – that laughter is the best medicine and that humor helps us cope with life. In these times of change, trauma, and trepidation about the economy, it is imperative that we keep our sense of humor about what’s important and also be aware of how others may deal with these uncertainties. The morale may be on shaky ground at your organization and you may be just the catalyst that is needed to help get things back on track and one way may be to start a Laughter Club.
* Nearly 2/3 of workers experiences some level of stress at work. 50% are somewhat stressed, while an additional 13% feel extremely stressed at work and only 9% feel that they are under no stress at all at work.
* Too much work (38%) and too little time (59%) are the two most common causes of stress in the workplace.
* Fatigue is the most frequently mentioned result of work-related stress that spills over into the lives of those surveyed 67%. Nearly 50% report that impatience and moodiness caused by work also has a negative impact on their lives at home.
These statistics were reported by a survey of American workers at Careerbuilder. What are you doing at work to prevent yourself and your colleagues from becoming statistics?
Quick and easy ideas for you to optimize your work and your life to live and lead Hartfully.
1. Skip lunch at your desk and take a walk outside to munch lunch while sitting in the fresh air. Start a walking club and pick your dream vacation spot and walk the mileage it takes to get there.
2. Replace your stuffy plaques with photos or posters which inspire you or afford a mental get-away.
3. Take turns bringing in creative treats to work on Friday.
4. If you have flextime, change your schedule according to the season for a change of pace.
5. Have a staff baby photo contest – the winner gets to leave an hour early.
6. Schedule more 3-day weekends to give yourself a break instead of putting all your vacation time in one spot. Our energy soars as we look forward to something special. Plan special things on Mondays to start your week out with higher energy.
7. Send thank-you notes to staff or customers who were particularly helpful or kind. Send notes home to staff spouses or parents telling them how terrific their partner or child is and thank them for their support.
8. Schedule a massage therapist to visit your office for seated massages during a particularly stressful time (budgeting cycles, end-of-month inventory) to decrease stress and increase productivity and well-being.
9. Conduct fewer meetings, remove the chairs to ensure they will be shorter, use email or conference calling, make meetings more fun and personable with surprises to keep people interested. People learn more when they are having fun.
10. Listen to books on tape, soothing music, or motivational tapes as you drive to work to make use of commuting time. Residents around the Washington DC area spend an average of 82 hours per year stuck in traffic…what are you doing to help increase your energy as you drive?
Research in the area of employee recognition has shown that organizations who implement an acknowledgement/recognition program generate 30-40% more income than organizations who don’t employ such programs. What are you doing to acknowledge the hard work of your team in a meaningful and individualized manner?
- Ways to praise. These sentence stems will get you started with a variety of ways to praise:
- You really made a difference by…
- Our clients were impressed by…
- You got our attention with…
- You can be proud of your efforts to…
- You’re right on the money with…
- What an effective way you have come up with to…
- You’ve made my day because…
- You should be proud of yourself for…
- You’re a terrific team member because…
- You’re awesome because…
- One thing our customers love about you is…
- We can always count on you for…
- Thank you…
- Using employee concierge services have shown to boost morale and help workers with securing sporting or arts tickets, pick up dry cleaning, run personal errands, booking a restaurant, arranging events for children and household repairs. www.BestUponRequest.com is one concierge service that companies use to outsource such services. Why not try them or a local firm who can make the days and lives of your team run smoother. Once the clutter of obligations is lifted, their mind can go to work.