A recent article in Inside Self Storage focused on how owners could motivate their staff during the current economic downturn. The writer, Matthew Van Horn, suggests praise, taking over the office and offering a paid day off for the management team, sending staff out to dinner or whatever else may work for that team or individual.
And after experiencing a week that was more depressing than normal, I realized my own normally jovial demeanor was at rock bottom. Mr. Van Horn’s article hit too close to home in a manner of speaking.
While something out of the norm would be appreciated, I realized it was not just my own mood, but the tone set by the stream of people coming in and out of our office. A local newspaper poll inquiring about people’s thoughts on their own personal outlook drove this point home. There just seems to be no escaping the collective funk we all seem to be experiencing
In our little sample of people, we’ve heard they are sleeping less, and insomnia is one of many signs of depression. Other signs include difficulty concentrating, remembering details, making decisions, fatigue or decreased energy levels, feelings of pessimism or helplessness. People display signs of increased irritability and restlessness, or loss of interest in normally pleasant activities, and even down to persistent aches, headaches and other health issues, all of which can be related to stress-induced depression.
We all know our customers and co-workers are stressed over the economy, whether it's currently impacting their family or bank account, or they are worried about long-term implications. Mulling over this got us to thinking, so we decided to do something about it. Listening to customer after customer sharing all the bad things they were experiencing—as human beings we try to empathize—but sometimes I find myself wanting to say “You think my life is peachy? Well, let me tell you...”
But of course I don’t, it is not part of my job to depress my customers or co-workers even more than they already are. Instead we decided to try a little social experiment. As people approach our office there is a sign that states; “Stop! Please think of one good thing about today that you can share with us before entering.” The dumbfounded looks or the smiles that cross their faces as they read our note are interesting to watch.
As the holidays approach and merchandisers push it on us months before they even happen, it adds to the money woes and creates overload. As a nation, we are showing classic signs of depression, and listening to all of the customer’s stories can affect your front line staff. Look around for ideas to enrich others’ lives instead of dwelling on the negativity.
We’re early into the month, with our rents all due on the first, but I hope our little experiment will help a few people along the way. And with any luck, they'll leave our office in a better mood, and then spread that mood to the next person they encounter.