Posts Tagged ‘Human resources’


4 Ways to Decide if You Should Re-hire Former Employees

There was a time when few individuals would consider taking a new job with a former employee and few companies would consider re-hiring former employees. Things have changed. When the economic downturn forced employers to cut back on headcount, they had to reluctantly let go of many valued workers. Even in today's somewhat tepid recovery, those same businesses now need to ramp up to meet increasing customer demand. It's natural to consider re-hiring individuals who worked for you in the past (known as "boomerang" employees).

Regardless of whether employees originally resigned or if you made the decision to let them go, re-hiring someone who knows your company culture can have merit in many situations. To some degree, you can trust your gut when making this decision. Still, taking a consistent, analytical approach can help improve the outcome. Here are four things to consider when you try to assess if a boomerang will come back to save you — or smack you in the head.

1. Assess the Reasons Behind the Original Separation

At some point in their lives, most people make mistakes. But, as Winston Churchill said, "To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often." In other words, the people you laid off two years ago because they displayed poor judgment in their work may have learned from their mistakes. They may, in fact, have become exactly the employees you need now. And, the same holds true in reverse; if they initially left voluntarily with complaints about the company, changes to themselves or to your company can make conditions ideal for a second try.

So, regardless of who initiated the original exit, don't say "no” without considering the underlying reasons. Give boomerang applicants the opportunity to explain what they learned — and how you can benefit from their return to your company

2. Understand that Previous Company Experience May or May Not Help

Re-hiring former employees has some natural advantages. They're easy to find for recruitment purposes, they already know many associates and they understand the company culture. For many boomerang employees, onboarding is not required; they hit the ground running on the first day of re-employment.

On the other hand, things may have changed in your business since they last worked for you. Of course, those things may actually make your company more attractive when they take a second look. And, don't forget that boomerang employees also go through changes after their initial exit. Did experience from prior jobs make them even more valuable than they were originally? Or, did they witness a miraculous world of employment in the outside world that your small business can never hope to match? Only open and honest interview discussions can help you and the applicant predict the likelihood of future success.

3. Consider the Effects on Co-Worker Morale

Unless your business is small enough to employ just a handful of people, it can be difficult to predict whether or not your existing workforce will greet a boomerang employee with a hearty welcome, a mistrustful shun, or something in between.

The anticipated reaction of other employees is certainly no reason to avoid re-hiring a former worker, but it is most definitely a reason to avoid blindsiding your current staff. It's up to you whether you want to involve them in this hiring decision, but you definitely need to make them aware of the situation — and what you expect them to do (and not do) once the employee begins work.

4. Examine if the Re-hire Really is the Best Candidate

"Better the devil you know" should not be a reason to re-hire a former employee any more than making the choice simply to save time and effort. Granted, there will be occasions when a boomerang candidate offers advantages that you know you cannot duplicate if you hire anyone else. But, under normal circumstances, you should seriously consider talking to talented outside candidates, as well. Even if you have to spend more time onboarding an outsider, that individual might have a better skill set — without potentially higher salary expectations.

The second time might be the charm.

Some argue that a skills gap is preventing U.S. companies from finding suitable new employees. If this is true, it can be tempting to turn to people you know when jobs become available in your company. Whether the employee left out of economic considerations or if either of you was not satisfied the first time around, a re-hire can be a boom or bust. By carefully looking at both sides of all of the issues, you can help ensure that boomerangs meet or exceed expectations, rather than hitting you in the head —for a second time.


How to Develop an Internship Program

12-2 internship programYou know that internships can be extremely valuable to student-learners, but what you may not realize is that internship programs can be valuable to you as a small business owner. Think of internships as long auditions for future full-time employees. While you may not reap immediate benefits from your student interns, you could find candidates with great potential and who are perfect for your company before they even hit the job market, giving you “first dibs” on top talent. The world of internships can be tricky to navigate with Department of Labor standards. Don’t cut any corners. Follow these steps to develop an internship program and set up the means to benefit your small business.

1. Identify Your Needs

Your very first step in developing an internship program will be to figure out exactly what your intern will be doing in your business. Keep in mind that while your interns will be looking to impress you, the primary focus will be on garnering experience significant to his or her field of study. Your needs will also help you discern whether or not you will have a paid or unpaid intern. For example, unpaid interns may not perform duties that directly contribute to your business’s operations (i.e. taking inventory, sending emails).

2. Paid or Unpaid

This is a decision you will also need to make early on. Paid and unpaid interns will have different roles in your company. Once you’ve decided which internship program is best for your company, be sure you understand all your state’s legislation regarding internships, minimum wage and labor laws. Depending on skill level, you should be prepared to pay $10-$30 per hour for paid interns.

3. Set a Plan

Before an intern walks in your door, you will need to figure out everything they will need in order to do their job. This will include a workspace and dedicated person or team to oversee the intern(s). You will also need to draft a clearly defined job description and a daily task list that will give the intern a good idea of what his or her goals and objectives will be, and what the student will learn. You should also indicate the hours and pay. Typically interns will do 10-20 hours a week, unless you have a co-op student who can work full-time hours for three to six months.

4. Begin Recruiting

There are online resources to seek out interns including internships.com, LinkedIn and looksharp.com. The best way to do this, however, would be to get your internship program registered with a school or college and then go through its Career Services office. Depending on what you offer, the first place serious students will look for valuable internships is through their own university.

5. Interview Candidates

Students can be difficult to interview because they are often professionally “wet behind the ears.” With little interviewing experience (let alone job experience), it can be hard to separate the timid from the inexperienced. Be sure to get references from any previous jobs held; professors and teachers can also prove to be great references as people who have witnessed the student’s work ethic, smarts and ambition. Don’t forget to include the intern’s supervisors in interviews. Chances are that you will not personally spend much one-on-one time with the intern. The person overseeing him or her needs to be involved in the decision making also.

The requirements for an internship program can seem overwhelming, but don’t let it deter you from this amazing opportunity to help a flourishing mind. The Small Business Association and Department of Labor are also great resources in helping you set up an internship program. Do your research and follow these steps. You’ll be mentoring, advising and molding an intern in no time.


Great Customer Service Reps are Born, not Made

11-25 Hiring Employees smallAll new hires need some formal or informal training to learn the ins and outs of their jobs, including customer service reps, who need to master basic company policies and procedures connected with customer interactions. While most employees who master training become great workers, perfect policy and procedure proficiency does not automatically make customer-facing employees good at their jobs.

Great customer service requires a special breed of people. Whether they sell to customers, help them navigate the aisles or resolve their issues on the phone, they display a genuine caring and helpful spirit, while being authentic. You can't teach that spirit, so your job is to seek it out from the time you write the want ad and throughout the interview process.

Advertise and Assess for Character Traits Before Technical Skills

Exceptional technical skills are meaningless in a customer service rep who doesn't deal well with people, so ask for people skills in the heading of your employment ad. A heading like, "Customer Service Rep with Computer Experience" attracts people who can log calls. A heading like, "Do People Come to You for Help?" draws in people who really like to help others. By all means, list minimum qualifications within the ad, but focus on attitude and people skills.

Of course, the interview requires the same type of focus. Be prepared to pose customer-related scenarios to find out how the applicant will handle them. And, even if some applicants fall slightly short of the skills requirements, listen for signs of trainability. Friendly, helpful people with basic computer skills can learn how to log calls, even if they have never before worked in a customer service environment.

Identify the Right Character Traits

You probably have no training in psychology, but that doesn't mean you have no capacity to recognize applicants who have a natural affinity for customer service. Here are some of the character traits to look for — and how to identify them:

  • Strong communication skills: Face it; angry or frustrated customers often do not communicate clearly. The reps you hire must be able to listen and understand long before they deliver a clear, unambiguous message. During the interview, applicants with the knack for two-way communication rise to the surface when you ask unclear questions. If they tactfully ask for clarification, they are better communicators than applicants who answer the wrong question.
  • Patience and compassion: Customers seldom seek out support when they are happy. In the worst cases, they are so livid that no solution seems to satisfy them. Your reps need a thick skin to avoid striking back at unearned verbal attacks. Then, they need the stamina to find resolutions that meet the customer's needs, while displaying a genuine degree of compassion for the customer's circumstances (no pity, please). A good way to test for these traits is to present an unsolvable issue and monitor the applicant's patience levels every time that you reject another solution.
  • Proactive problem-solving: Your company may have a rule book for resolving typical complaints. But even when reps memorize every rule, undocumented issues frequently arise. If you empower your employees to make decisions on the fly, raise some hypothetical situations to make sure that applicants have enough common sense to respond appropriately — and when they recognize the need to seek management intervention.

Mirror the Work Environment During the Interview

Traditionally, short phone interviews are a first step before bringing applicants in for one or more face-to-face meetings. But, does this really tell the whole story for a phone support applicant? Sure, these people may need to interact with other employees, so meeting in person makes sense. Still, the phone interview may be the best way to assess what their on-the-job performance will really be like.

If the position involves phone support, maybe the phone interview is most important because it lets you listen for a smile and get an idea of how well applicants read emotions over the phone without of the benefit of facial queues. Similarly, consider meeting in a coffee shop or restaurant to see how traveling sales reps handle business conversations in noisy environments — and to check their table manners.

Put Yourself in the Customer's Shoes During Each Interview:

You may be interviewing as the boss, but you need to listen to each answer as if you were the customer. Customers quickly recognize the difference between genuine support and scripted problem-solving. You can certainly teach new reps about the support process. You can even teach them to avoid certain stock phrases — like responding to a thank you with "no problem."

But helpfulness and winning personalities come from the heart. Bruce Nordstrom, of the third generation of customer service-oriented Nordstrom management, said it best: "We can hire nice people and teach them to sell, but we can't hire salespeople and teach them to be nice."


Websites to Find New Employees for Your Small Business

11-25 Hiring Employees smallOnce you have determined that it will be beneficial to your business to begin hiring employees, where do you to start?  While its great to start delegating responsibility to other people, your next challenge is to find them. The days of putting classifieds in a newspaper are gone and word-of-mouth recommendations can only get you so far. Here are some of the web’s best resources to find new employees.

StartUpHire

StartUpHire is a website dedicated to finding career professionals, and employee candidates. Many professionals aren’t familiar with the challenges that new small businesses face which can lead to conflicts early into their employment with you. One of StartUpHire’s standout features is the option for employees to search for employment based on a company’s stage of development (ie. seed, development, profitable) and funding. This does away with any misconceptions regarding a job description or the salary and benefit expectations. StartUpHire does charge a fee for its service. The most basic package is $79.

Indeed

Think of Indeed as Google for jobs; it enables users to search for and view jobs from all over the Internet. Indeed is a highly visited site for jobseekers. Business owners can search for qualified candidates as many of Indeed’s users keep their resumes live on the site to be found by potential employers. Besides giving your available position loads of exposure, the price is right. Indeed’s pricing is based on pay-per-click, meaning you only pay when a candidate takes a look at your job description. Much like other pay-per-click websites, you set your own budget for how many clicks you can afford and watch the resumes roll in. If your company isn't in the position to pay to post a job, Indeed also offers the ability to piblish job postings for free. 

Craigslist

You might think of Craigslist as a place sell your old couch or buy a new car, but today the website is being used for so much more. Craigslist is as close to a newspaper classified as you can get in our digital age and, with ads that are as simple and straight forward, it can be a valuable place to find new talent. Job descriptions don’t require an application and all information you provide to jobseekers is voluntary (including location, hours required and salary/benefits). Using Craigslist also guarantees that you will hit candidates within your immediate area as the site operates as separate job boards based on major city or geographical location. It costs $35 for one job posting on Craigslist that remains active for 30 days regardless of how many responses the ad receives.

Monster

Monster.com is the grandfather of job posting websites. Monster is free for jobseekers to use and puts its primary focus on the candidate. Monster offers resources such as industry insights like average salaries and job growth trends. Of all these websites, Monster is the most expensive but also has the biggest reach. With Monster’s job posting packages, your job offerings are targeted and seen across newspaper sites, mobile apps and any other sites linked to the Monster network. It also offers “Power Resume Search,” which allows you to find the best qualified candidates in the shortest amount of time.

Internet job sites are huge assets to small business owners with limited resources to conduct a job search. If you’re ready to bring fresh faces with immense talent into your business, you have to look for them where they’ll be looking for you: online.


The Top 5 Ways to Keep Remote Employees Connected & Engaged

10-19 remote workers smallIf you want to bring remote workers together and make them feel connected to your company, it is essential that you take advantage of the communications tools available today. Technology has changed the way the world works, and this is especially true for remote workers.

While all of our operations is located at our headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona, we do have a growing number of sales representatives and software developers that work remotely. These individuals are essential to our company’s success, and we want them to feel just as connected to the company as our team members who work at our headquarters.

We have found that the five tools below significantly improve communication with remote team members, keep them informed of office activities, and keep them connected to their coworkers.

Regular team calls

This may seem like a no-brainer, but scheduling a call that works for everyone’s schedule is no small feat. However, constant and consistent communication is extremely important to moving projects along and discussing initiatives and goals. Try to touch base with your entire team at least once a week. If blocking off an hour may not be feasible, try for shorter, more frequent check-ins. This will hold team members accountable, will keep everyone up-to-date on what each team member is working on, and can help identify team members or projects that may need extra support.

Cloud Phone System

Moving communications systems to the cloud is a essential to keep employees connected, such as moving to a cloud phone system. You can route calls to these employees from your main office, take advantage of extension dialing, and utilize a mobile app to stay connected on the go.

Additionally, the mobile apps for these systems, such as the Nextiva App, come with additional features including IM and presence for easy communication from anywhere.

An Instant Message System

Remember the days of AIM? Instant message systems have matured from a social chat tool for teens and are now essential communications tools many of us, myself included, couldn’t imagine getting through a workday without. As the name indicates, an instant message system allows you to send messages to your coworkers in different locations and receive an immediate response. This tool is great for quick questions were sending an email is unnecessary, and the best part is it won’t clog your inbox! At Nextiva we rely on Jabber or the Nextiva App, but there are a variety of tools out there your business can use, and many are free.  

A Company-focused Blog

Our Culture team began an internal blog at Nextiva about a year ago and it has been a great platform to keep everyone connected. Everyone’s inboxes are overflowing these days and it’s easy to miss internal emails about office activities. Creating a central place to house all of your company communication will help keep everyone informed of office activities, product updates, HR resources, without having to check multiple places for the information. Also, blogs, especially ones powered by WordPress, are easy to customize and update to suite your unique needs and culture.

Employee Engagement Activities that are not Location-Based

Focus on creating employee engagement activities that all team members can participate in, regardless of their physical location. Voting activities or a weekly internal news show that highlights everything going on in the company that week is a great way to share information and make employees feel connected. Highlighting remote employees via “department discoveries” or internal interviews will help employees in different locations to get to know each other.

These five tools can be implemented in every business, and will help improve the satisfaction of your remote workers. Are there any tools you rely on to improve communication with remote team members and make them feel more connected to your company?


Four Ways to Make Employee Peer Reviews Effective

9-5 peer reviews smallMany employees and managers alike quake with fear when they learn that their company is implementing a system that involves peers in the performance review process. Employees see writing reviews as a waste of time, even as they foresee co-worker conflict in their futures. Recognizing that peer reviews are not typically accurate, managers see them as an unnecessary complication to an already-stressful process.

The good news is that well-designed peer review programs can add value to performance reviews. Here are four ways to make them effective.

1. Choose Appropriate Reviewers for Each Employee

On the surface, it seems kinder and gentler to allow employees to choose the peers they want to write their reviews, but this approach can go wrong in two primary ways. At one extreme, friends give gushing praise to each other. At the other end of the coin, co-workers become overly-critical in an attempt to appear fair. Either way, you cannot fully trust the feedback that you receive to be accurate.

As a manager, you are in the best position to choose the right employees to review the work of their peers. Naturally, your decision needs include peers who regularly work together — and whose work may be affected by the employee who is under review. You also have to consider interpersonal relationships. While you don't want to choose a best friend, you also don't want to select a clear competitor.

Whomever you choose, make sure that everyone understands that your choice is as confidential as wage and salary information. Without confidentiality, the peer review process can easily lead to significant morale issues.

2. Provide Reviewers with Detailed Guidelines

Not all employees are managers; they probably have little experience and training to accurately review a peer’s performance. Avoid essay questions in favor of a set of multiple-choice questions that you want them to answer. Their choices can range from "Exceptional" on the high end, and avoid overly-negative terms for the low-end score. "Needs Improvement" might be as negative as you want to go. Then, make sure that they clearly understand the precise definition for each point on the scale.

Just as important, make sure that all employees understand the overall purpose of their peer reviews. While they may provide managers with new insights into their employees, they cannot directly affect any employee's official performance rating.

3. Ask the Right Questions

Employees are not privy to each other's job descriptions or to the expectations that you may have set forth. It is your job to review each employee's performance. You are the only one who should look at issues like accuracy, speed and errors. Peer reviews should enhance the process by focusing on the factors that you cannot witness on a daily basis.

In other words, the questions on your performance review should not overlap with those on the peer review forms. Co-workers are in the best position to provide meaningful feedback when rating attributes like the following:

  • Ability to solve problems on the fly
  • Natural leadership abilities
  • Willingness to help other employees
  • Ability to interact effectively with employees at all levels within the organization
  • Consistent display of motivation for the job

4. Keep Peer Reviews in Perspective

No manager can constantly observe all activities on the floor, so peer reviews are a good way to help managers gain insight into what's happening when they're not around. But they should not receive too much weight in the formal performance review process. Positive or negative, they might say more about managers' successes and failures than they say about employee performance.

Peer reviews can enlighten your insights about your employees, but they cannot — and should not — carry as much weight as the assessment of the immediate supervisor. In fact, it is best to avoid the temptation to roll the peer rankings in with your own rankings, which are typically more objective.

Peer reviews can be invaluable in helping you address the future direction of your employees. For example, negative reviews pertaining to interpersonal skills or attitude can help you formulate a plan to help an employee improve in these critical areas. Just as important, positive feedback on leadership  and motivational abilities can help you work with employees to identify how they can move upward within the organization.

Peer Reviews Have a Bad Rap

In their original form, employee peer reviews were typically blatantly unfair, wasting time and often causing disharmony within the ranks. With finesse and forethought, however, peer reviews can add a valuable new dimension to the review process.


Seven Steps Toward Customer-Focused Culture Change

Changing the culture at your company isn’t easy (It’s not that it’s necessarily complicated, it’s just an awful lot of work). But culture change done right can transform your company into a customer-centric and employee-embracing company. Here are seven steps that will help get you there.

  1. Make the decision.  If you don’t make the decision to drive cultural change at your company, make it loudly, proudly, and in a way that’s hard to turn back from, it’s not going to happen.
  2. Spell it out. Take a very, very few words–really, just a handful!–to say what your decision looks like. For example Mayo Clinic’s “The needs of the patient comes first.”  Seven words, none of them consultantese, only one of them longer than a syllable.  If you need more words than this, that’s OK.  The Ritz-Carlton not only has the timeless “We are ladies and gentlement serving ladies and gentlemen” but also “The Ritz-Carlton Hotel is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.
  3. Start talking about the change at every orientation. If you waste orientation talking about the employee fridge and how it’s emptied out on Fridays, how to file for vacation time or sick leave and such, you’re blowing it.  Orientation is a time when employees are (ironically), disoriented, and as such it’s a crucial time to have someone at the very highest level in the organization (at the Ritz-Carlton it’s the CEO, every time a new hotel opens; at Danny Meyer’s restaurants it’s Danny Meyer) talk about what is central and immutable in the organization’s culture.  Its purpose, in other words.
  4. Overhaul your hiring and personnel practices. Every single employee, from this moment forward, needs to be hired for reasons that are congruent with your newly stated values.  This is very, very important. And as far as personnel policies, no more docking people for coming in late from the lunch break to assist a customer they found in distress.  No more ranking based on average handle time on phone calls.  And so forth.  The CEO can make the highest of high-minded values statements, but here is where the rubber hits the road, where your culture can be supported or sabotaged
  5. Standardize (in the right way). Everything that can reasonably be expected to occur between you and your customers deserves to be standardized, explaining (to your employees) both what to do and the reason behind the suggested behavior (so that they can deviate from it when the situation calls for a different approach)
  6. Commit yourself to employee empowerment, including employee-directed job design. Jobs should not by default be considered activities that are done by employees but designed by their so-called superiors.  While, of course, to some extent this has to be true, especially in life-threatening situations–your employee can lead an evacuation down a fire escape but can't necessarily design standards for what is an acceptable or unacceptable level of smoke inhalation–it's important to simultaneously push against it, to let your employees know what they need to get done but not necessarily how they should go about designing their day and carrying out their duties.
  7. Keep the momentum going. Ongoing reinforcement is crucial.  Consider how the Ritz-Carlton has maintained its culture for decades, even in the face of leadership changes and some very challenging economic times.  The centerpiece is daily lineup approach:  a few minutes every day discussing just one of your list of cultural values or service standards, with the meeting led by a different employee every time. The result, added up over a year or years, is a lot of reinforcement. And it makes every single one of those days of that year or years better on its own.

How to Organize Your Business to Hire Your First Employee

"Staff Wanted" SignFrom your very first hire, you want to make sure you are attracting the kind of employees who will be an asset to your company. You want that first employee to be a hard-working, conscientious individual that you won’t break the bank to hire. But it goes deeper than that. Hiring your first employee requires plenty of planning and reflection to understand your staffing needs and your management style. Your first staff could be the freelancers you need to the full-time admin you need to offload some of your backend tasks.

Start with the Tasks You Need Help With

Before you write the job description that will help you attract the right people, start by simply brainstorming about the tasks you need help with the most. Initially, the list may be helter-skelter, with some admin tasks, some marketing, some finance, and so on. But as you complete the list, start to sort them into categories so you can determine what type of role you need to hire for. Then prioritize those job tasks so you can tackle the most important ones with your first hire.

It’s helpful to divide this list into the following categories. Each job description you put together will likely include some of each:

  • Critical tasks
  • Routine tasks
  • Occasional tasks

Consider Your Hiring Options

Full-time isn’t your only option here, and if your budget is small, it might be further down the road. You can also consider the following:

Part-Time Employee

A part-time staff member typically works 15-30 hours a week, and you aren’t required to pay health benefits for them, typically.  The perk to part-time is that you can adjust worker schedules to reflect the needs of your business. The downside is fewer people are looking for part-time roles.

Temporary Workers

Usually you hire a temp worker through an agency. They’re ideal if you need help for a few weeks or months, as you can let them go when your busy season is over. Another advantage of this option is if you don't like the worker, you can call and get another one.

Contractors

Working with freelancers or 1099 employees can help with short-term needs, such as getting your website designed or handling your virtual admin needs. You don’t pay social security or payroll taxes for contractors. One perk is that you can test out contractors to see how you like them, and then hire them full-time if they are an asset to your business.

Interns

A cost-friendly staffing option is the intern. Look to a local college to find a low or no-cost intern who’s studying a field that you need help in. Once the semester is over, however, you lose your cheap labor. Still, if you like their work, you can always hire them.

Next, Write Your Job Description

Now that you’ve defined the tasks you need your first employee to tackle, organize them into separate jobs.  This is important so that you’re not trying to recruit an amazing admin who not only can file but can also file your taxes, manage your social media, give you a manicure, and run your IT department!. Now, it’s time to organize your thoughts into a job description.

The more detailed your job description, the more likely you will be to find exactly the right fit for the role you need to fill. I like to write down everything that employee could possibly be asked to do so that there are no surprises down the road.

Start Your Search

With that job description, look in as many places as possible to maximize your search. You can (and should) open your job search up to:

  • job boards
  • recruiters
  • social media
  • your network

Let everyone know you’re hiring, since referrals are an excellent source for great employees.

If you’ve spent the time up front to clearly identifying the type of employee you need, you should be rewarded with one who will help you take your business to the next level.


Mondays with Mike: 7 Tips For Improving Office Morale

3-16 Employee Hapiness smallEvery office goes through cycles – from motivated, focused productivity, to the doldrums of boredom and complaints.  When you see the need for a collective boost in spirits, try out these tips, guaranteed to get your staff back on track.

  1. Daily Huddle.  Try conducting brief, daily meetings designed to keep your team collectively focused.  Identify challenges and goals, then get right back to work.  I like to conduct these meetings with the entire team standing, so there’s no temptation to get too comfortable.
  2. Schedule change-up.  In nearly all cases, there’s really no reason to require every single member of your staff to work the same set hours.  If it makes sense for some folks to work unique schedules and manage their personal lives better, you’ll discover they’re more focused and ready to be productive when they’re on the clock.
  3. Focus on the Why, rather than the What.  Remembering why you started your business – and reminding your staff of your purpose – can help employees redirect their energy toward accomplishing big picture goals.  Look at the benefits you provide your community if you need inspiration to keep going.
  4. Say thank you.  It doesn’t cost you a cent to express your appreciation.  Make sure your staff knows how much you appreciate them, and they’re more likely to go the extra mile for you and your customers.
  5. Listen.  Just like dealing with an irate customer, you need to provide a private way for dissatisfied employees to air their grievances.  Getting the problem out in the open lets you manage office problems, and it keeps your employee from spreading dissatisfaction to the rest of the staff.  If your staff thinks you don’t care about their concerns, their productivity and morale will inevitably suffer.
  6. Take the bullet.  While you don’t want to fall into the trap of being the number one troubleshooter for your company, sometimes the very best thing you can do is swoop in to save the day.  Letting your staff know you’re prepared to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work will inspire them to greater heights.  If they know you have their backs, they’re more willing to be creative and innovative.
  7. Provide a change of scenery.  Monotony is the slayer of creativity.  When your staff tires of staring at their cubicle walls, take a field trip!  Whether you reward your employees with a day at the baseball park, or you band together for a community service day, sometimes giving your staff a change of scenery is all you need to reinvigorate them.

Most of us are operating on a budget and have more work to do than we have hours in a day, but you’ll be surprised at how effective an investment in your staff’s collective happiness can be for your company.  Keep ‘em focused.  Keep ‘em on track, and you’ll reap the benefits. 




 
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