It’s a fact. Companies with lousy employee morale have higher rates of employee absenteeism. And employee absences cost you, the business owner or manager, money. So what can you do? Especially when budgets are still squeaky tight?
Little things mean a lot
But did you know that there’s something simple you can use to help your employees right now, and all it costs is some paper, a little meeting time, and a willingness to be silly for a little while?
Teach ‘em manners
When times are tough, and stress is high, a little workplace etiquette can go a long way. But guess what? When times are tough and the stress is high, people forget the basics.
So schedule some time, gather your employees together, and figure out a fun way to remind everyone about what they learned in kindergarten. Keep it light, but make sure they know these little things count.
So here goes:
- Say please and thank you. Seriously. How many times have you had a stressed-out colleague or boss demand a report or a fact NOW without a please in sight? How many time have YOU done that? We all know it puts people on the defensive, and sets them off on a path of excuses and rationalizations instead of solving the problem. But we forget. So everyone needs to be reminded now and then. With a please and a thank you attached.
- Stop whispering in public areas. And yes, cubicle-land is a public area! So are the stock room, the serving counter and the hallway. Remember how it felt back in school when there were three or four of you, and two would start to whisper? It hurt, right? Guess what? It still does, and it’s a big employee morale killer. If you need to share something privately with a coworker, go into an office and shut the door, or save it for when you go out to lunch.
- Don’t hit “Reply All” when everyone doesn’t need to see your reply. Yes, you may feel a burning need to tell the sender that you find their e-mail “LOL” funny, or to chime in that you “Agree!” but the rest of the send list could do without 32 useless e-mails they have to delete. The electrons may be free, but your coworkers’ time is not.
- Throw away your own trash and clean up your spills. Whether it’s in the lunch room, or at the copier, no one else should have to clean up, wipe up or toss out your garbage. There used to be a sign on the tables at a local sub shop that read “Would your mother be proud of the way you left your table?” Keep that in mind when you’re about to walk away and leave the misprinted copy on the machine, or ignore the splash on the counter when you pour your morning coffee.
- Watch your language. Swear words have becomes so much a part of our culture that many people now use them even in the workplace. While few people would be terrible offended by the odd expletive in times of frustration or pain, the steady stream of 4-letter words at meetings and in business conversation can offend many of your coworkers.
It could even lead to employee harassment charges! There is a time and a place for everything, but on the job it’s a good idea to give coarser language a rest.
Now it’s time to have fun.
Of course, you could just circulate a memo with these workplace basics, but a demonstration would probably be more effective.
Schedule a meeting and have a “What Not to Do” skit. Or create a Jeopardy-style quiz game. Or take a page out of street theatre, and have a moving demonstration wandering throughout the building, modeling what not to do, and then what to do.
Whatever you choose to do, keep it fun. Employee training that teaches with humor is more effective and more lasting than a formal lesson or a “official memo.” And besides, we could all use a little more fun at work.