It doesn’t matter if you’ve been running your business for fifteen years or fifteen days, your employees are the cogs in your machine that keep it running smoothly and functionally. Taking care of your employees and keeping them happy is always worth it, not just because they do good work but also because you appreciate all that they do for you.
1. Tell Them They’re Making An Impact
Everyone loves a pat on the back every so often, so make sure that when you notice one of your workers doing something really well, tell them! Even something simple can make their day: “I noticed that you stayed late last night to finish inventory, I appreciate the extra time you spent to get the job done.” This proves that you really are paying attention and are noticing what’s happening around the workplace.
Make sure that you notice when they accomplish difficult tasks as well since those seem to be the most thankless ones. Perhaps you run a car lot and someone sold the best midsize truck to a tough client, or the filing cabinet has been completely organized by color and subject. Tell your employees that you see what they’re doing and appreciate them for doing it.
2. Be Consistent
Have you ever had a boss who can’t seem to make up their mind? You ask them a question one day and the next week they have a totally different answer than they had before? Don’t be that person. Sure, in a new business it can take some time to work out kinks and get processes rolling, but once those processes are set in place don’t flip-flop and constantly change your mind. Develop a set of industry standards and follow them. Failing to do so can frustrate your workers and make them feel like they can’t depend on you to be reliable.
3. Surprise Them Every So Often
Donuts on Fridays? A paid afternoon off out of the blue? Sometimes it’s fun when the Boss up and makes a surprise decision. There are certainly better times than others to do things like this (holiday weekends, for example), but it can be a fun way to raise staff morale and will certainly put smiles on faces. This doesn’t have to be elaborate, but some ideas might include:
- A coffee run for everyone
- Buy lunch for the staff
- Afternoon retreats to the mini-golf course
- Casual days where jeans and sweatshirts are allowed
4. Be Welcoming
Not everyone is an extrovert and some people consider themselves to be socially awkward. If you’re one of those people, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Even if you aren’t the best at dealing with people, as a boss it’s part of your job — and as a business owner it is part of your responsibility. If you’re not sure how to make people feel welcome in your place of business, try some of these simple tips:
- Put a candy bowl on your desk. Seriously, it’s one of the most simple tips you can imagine but it’s an instant ice-breaker. People munching on Skittles tend to be less stressed than those who aren’t, plus it makes the setting feel more casual and less “businessy.”
- Build trust by leading by example and reinforcing when you see people modeling those behaviors. Understand that it takes time and energy to get to a comfortable spot and that it won’t happen overnight.
- Act as a mentor. Be helpful and answer questions when people have them, give advice when it's needed and let people come to you as a source for knowledge.
It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Sometimes employees are having a crisis of some kind and come into your office to complain. Rather than roll your eyes and grit your teeth, actually listen to their complaints. Oftentimes what they seem to be angry about isn’t really the issue at all and there is an underlying reason for their anger, and being able to read between the lines can help you reach a resolution fast.
For example, your employee Brandon is raging that a customer tried to use a coupon that was expired, and when it was explained to them that it was expired they threw a hissy fit until a coworker swooped in and validated the coupon. Repeat back what you’re hearing without putting any words in his mouth. Ask him if it sounds valid, and then you should start picking apart the issue together. At first glance it might appear that Brandon is angry that the customer got their way, but in reality he’s actually frustrated with his coworker for undermining him. Not only have you reached the actual root of the problem, but Brandon feels validated and you have calmed him down simply by listening to him. Sometimes it really can be that easy.
You probably have a few strategies of your own, but remember that it doesn’t always have to be a grand display to keep your employees pretty happy. Sometimes all it takes is the right attitude and frame of mind.