Last week I wrote about understanding that your team members need to recharge their batteries from time to time. We mentioned the need to see warning signs before they become help wanted signs. This week the focus is on some of those warning signs and remedies to flip those signs from “out to lunch” to “open for business”.
Absenteeism is perhaps one of the biggest warning signs. When staff are taking a lot of unscheduled leave, there is a high possibility that some batteries are running low. One of the best ways to handle this is to take it head on. Talk with the team member and ask them if a planned day off would help. Making it the day before or after a weekend makes the time off even more valuable. This is the equivalent of charging your phone for 5 minutes versus charging for 5 hours. If the employee has been working a lot of unpaid overtime, you may want to give them the day off with pay. It’s a great way to show appreciation and diffuse resentment.
Presenteeism is a great term to describe when employees are at their desks, but not engaged in work. This may be because of a lot of overtime and that leaves little time for personal needs that are traditionally taken care of off work hours. Especially during a time of year when holiday shopping or travel plans can take a lot of time, it may be something leaders need to recognize. A great way to handle this issue is to encourage a long lunch at the computer. If the employee doesn’t need to go out and run errands at lunch, having an hour and a half or two hour lunch to get to do items off of their personal list so that they can focus back on your list. If the employee has been working a lot of overtime, you are still getting the better part of the deal by allowing an extra half hour or hour per day while looking like a hero in the eyes of your team member. Remember, when you take care of them, they will take care of you.
Lifeless service or just going through the motions happens a lot in many jobs. The employee is at work, engaged in work activities, but there seems to be some spark missing. That spark is usually the freedom to provide input. One of the best ways to not only restore that spark, but improve your company overall, is to engage your staff on ways to improve processes. This is not the suggestion box in the lunch room. This is the leadership sitting down with the workers on the floor and asking for their opinions. I will promise you that they have already figured out how to make your company run more smoothly. They do this work day in and day out and they have complained to their co-workers for the last 3 years that this simple change would save the company money. Remember, innovation knows no rank and those on the front line know the work better than those in the board room. Ask them, and really listen to the answers.
Employees talk to each other. When they are often talking in low tones or if they stop talking when management approaches, that usually means they’re talking about being unhappy. The only way to deal with this is to give them the chance to talk, as a group, to management directly. There is no more valuable leader than the one who can take feedback and criticism from his/her team. Taking that feedback and criticism, and actually making changes shows the employees how much you value them. If they feel valued, they will be happy, active, and engaged in your business.
At the end of the day, a company or organization will have created a culture. This culture will overpower your best strategies and intentions. Will your culture be positive or negative? This culture is not created by posting signs around the office or painting certain colors on the walls. This culture is not created by one way communications from management to staff. This culture is created by making employees feel like they are a part of the brand. This culture is created by making employees feel like they make a difference in what happens around them. Setting the right culture will reduce your turnover and increase your productivity.