Boosting Morale in a Bruised EconomyBy Bill & Chris Sitter
Article Date: 07-01-2009
Copyright(C) 2009 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
It doesn't have to cost you a lot ot say "thanks."
While arriving at this column’s title, we recognized the fact that some of our AED readers might prefer to substitute “bumbling,” “busted,” or even “broken” for the title word “bruised” when describing the current economic state of America and the equipment industry. Regardless of your description, we believe that all managers are challenged with maintaining, or more likely boosting, employee morale in times when doom and gloom-sayers seem to lurk around every water cooler and run rampant in the media.
For 30 years our Jordan-Sitter Associates team has been privileged to work closely with mid- to very senior-level managers, with AED dealers and with equipment manufacturers – large and small. When business was booming (yes, it will boom again), companies felt free to reward special individual and team performers with gifts, special outings – even sales or management meetings at resorts. Properly used, all these activities can be motivators and morale boosters. That’s all well and good, but: How can a company reward the people who are “working their tails off” to keep the enterprise afloat, in today’s challenging economy? And what can be done that has a high impact and relatively low cost? Let’s explore a few ideas:
In a few paragraphs, we are going to seek some creative morale-boosting ideas from you. First, we’ll salt your thinking with a few more low-budget, but often-overlooked, ways to say thanks to the ladies and gentlemen who you’re counting on for the sustainability and growth of your department or entire enterprise.
- Praise – both public and private – has always ranked at or near the top in employee satisfaction surveys. “Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the mind and healing to the body,” is a truth found in the book of Proverbs. Praising performance, in words or with a personal note, takes caring and some time but costs nothing. We are not suggesting false praise, but a sincere pat on the back and a “thanks for a job well done.” As the boss, your genuine, heartfelt expressions of praise mean a lot and are long remembered.
- Communication – Your employees want to know what’s going on, and what management is thinking. We have all experienced the toxic impact of the company rumor mill, and we realize that most gossip is based on imagined scenarios. Allow us one more reference to the book of Proverbs: “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” We encourage business leaders to be as open and sharing as possible in their communications with associates. Remember, they are on your team and they really care. Sharing builds trust and reduces harmful stress. Open communication enhances teamwork by focusing everyone on clearly understood challenges and goals.
As this article goes to CED’s press, the authors are preparing for our annual July 4th celebration. We love the fact that about 50 people (JSA Associates, neighbors and church friends) enjoy honoring this nation’s heritage and just having fun. We’ll play games, pitch horseshoes, play Frisbee, enjoy some carefully controlled BB gun target shooting, eat, eat and eat – and of course, watch the area’s fireworks. And you know what? The memories and fellowship are great, and the potluck approach keeps the cost in line with our spending plan.
- Group lunches – like pizza on the porch or barbeque in the shop. We’ve all done these, and we know the total cost is minimal but the thought is appreciated. It’s even better if, as one of our clients does, the senior managers serve the employees, eat last, and even clean up. If funds are really tight, consider a potluck – but do something positive and take photos. You’ll be surprised at the positive impact.
- Movie passes with a thank you note from the boss – this is an inexpensive way to say thanks to a person, and a few extra passes shows the whole family that “their company” appreciates them.
- Family appreciation days – ask some of your employees to organize a fun outing with realistic budget guidelines. You’ll probably be amazed at the good ideas that will surface and the participation will be high because it is “their idea.”
We hope this rather light-hearted column has stimulated thoughts about how you can maintain, or perhaps rekindle, some espirit de corps with your company team. We’d really like to get your ideas on other successful and economic morale boosting techniques. Please e-mail us at the contacts shown below. Happy Independence Day and God Bless America!
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