Industry specific training is less expensive than enrolling an employee in a class at a school, and it can be just as productive. These industry specific classes allow management and employee to learn about each other.
There are other avenues for training at local colleges and community adult education. Find out what classes are available and take a class yourself or send an employee. Adult education classes offered by many schools and community college classes are not very expensive.
Paying for entire college degree is costly, but don't rule it out. Helping pay for someone to finish their degree can be extremely rewarding. The best advice I can offer is to talk with employees, tell them why you want to help them, and find out if they feel the same about investing their time in the company.
Let's face it, if we have employees who feel like we care about them, they will walk through fire for us.
An easy and inexpensive way to build employee satisfaction is letters or notes of thanks or recognition.
I remember the first time I wrote thank you notes to employees. I had cards printed with the company logo on the front with my name and title printed on it. Inside I wrote a note of thanks, recognition or a compliment of some kind. To my amazement, my former employees still remember those cards. I made it my goal to send out five per week to people who needed encouragement or thanks.
There are many ways to boost morale. The important thing is that you do something. The present market is a candidate-driven market, meaning employees have a choice of many companies to work for. This trend is only continuing as our population ages.
Our employees, like our customers, have choices. There are times when we need to get tough with our staff and we always need to hold them accountable. But always use the golden rule. It is always possible to communicate your disapproval about something without offending someone.
Use Employee evaluations to motivate
Employee evaluations are an important tool in developing your staff. If you ask employees how they feel about employee evaluations, there is a good chance they will say they don't like them because all it amounts to is having someone criticize them. But if done right, an employee evaluation can be a great tool for boosting morale in your staff and recognizing their hard work.
It is important to provide employees feedback on their performance on a regular basis. Evaluation forms are available from a variety of sources. Evaluations provide a measurement by which to base compensation.
Periodic evaluations also provide management an opportunity to interact with employees. These one-on-one sessions should be educational for both parties involved.
If you're not sure how to use employee evaluations, seek out a human resources consultant on a part-time basis to help you through the process. They are listed in the telephone directory and on the Internet. NAMA has a human resource expert available for free consultation to all NAMA members as part of its "Knowledge Source" program.
One of the most valuable feedback tools I use is what I call "Continue, Stop, Start." I have my team do this twice a year.
You want to create an environment for your staff to feel like they can be open and honest with you. Tell them you can't change everything, but if you know what bothers them, you will try to be responsive.
Encourage them to tell you what they want you to continue to do, what they would like you to stop doing, and what they would like you to start doing.
I've been amazed how my staff has taught me over the years: from some very basic stuff like don't use your speaker phone while we are having a conversation, to more deep rooted management style issues. I've included a form for you to use or re-create, shown at the top of this page.
If you need to say sorry to one of your employees, don't wait; do it today because someone else will be happy to steal that employee from you.
Low-cost morale boosters
- A day off with pay.
- An award or plaque to hang in the office or at home.
- A subscription to a magazine tailored to their interest.
- Dinner out with you and your spouse.
- A three-day weekend.
- Lunch with you at a good restaurant.
- A trip to a trade show.