By Jack Singer
We live in a stressful society, filled with uncertainty in the job market and the economy. A large percentage of employees admit to being unhappy and disengaged at their jobs. Recent research shows that among the least happy and least engaged employees, the annual per-person cost of lost productivity because of sick and personal days is more than $28,000, compared with $840 among the happiest and most engaged employees. Furthermore, job stress alone is estimated to cost U.S. industry at least $300 billion a year in absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover, and direct medical, legal and insurance fees.
Below are five powerful prescriptions for enhancing employee morale and job performance, and minimizing job stress at your self-storage organization.
Provide your employees with empowering goal-setting strategies.
People are significantly more likely to reach a goal when they write it down as opposed to simply thinking about it. Have regular meetings with your team where, in addition to encouraging them to discuss their areas of discontentment, you join them in writing down short- and long-term specific and action-oriented goals.
For example, a manager might say, For this month, we will have four meetings in which we will design and implement our new plan for developing a psychologically healthy workplace. Bring an idea with you to each meeting. In the meetings, ask people to visualize themselves feeling successful once they have accomplished those goals. Ask them to imagine it as if they have already accomplished the goal. Finally, have them write down ways in which they can sabotage their own efforts to accomplish those goals. Encourage them to be honest about the kinds of self-talk or self-defeating behaviors they have engaged in before.
Provide your employees with a sense of control over their jobs.
Studies reveal how important it is to give employees a legitimate say in how they conduct their jobs. Not only does the perception that management actually cares about their feelings positively influence morale, but giving workers some control over their own schedule and how to approach their work tasks dramatically reduces job burnout, absenteeism and turnover.
Have frequent meetings with employees where you listen to their issues and allow them to suggest resolutions. Encourage workers to determine their own specific strengths and put them to use on their jobs.
More examples of providing employees involvement in their work are self-managed work teams, employee committees or task forces, continuous-improvement teams, team-centered hiring processes in which employees select their peers, and participative decision-making projects.
Provide growth and development programs for employees, such as brownbag learning.
Most employees want the opportunity to gain new skills and knowledge so they dont feel stagnant. Information provided by outside experts will help them on their jobs and in their lives and can serve these needs. Providing lunchtime seminars and workshops on topics such as stress and anger management, enhanced wellness, and clear communication enhances organizational effectiveness and improves work quality. Providing free college courses after work in your company is also a wonderful benefit for employees.
Provide a variety of planned and spontaneous employee-recognition events.
Its a no-brainer for companies to provide the best possible service for their customers and clients, but they often forget that their most important assetstheir employeesneed the same. Why not make your staff feel as valued as your customers? By acknowledging their efforts, not just their productivity, you can increase employee satisfaction, morale and self-esteem.
Examples of providing recognition include:
- Give unpredictable rewards, such as movie tickets and gift certificates.
- Create a volunteer committee from across different departments to plan special events.
- Provide free, healthful lunch options for employees to encourage them to stay in the office during lunch hours.
- List the births, birthdays and other news of interest about employees in the monthly newsletter. Have the CEO or president send out personalized cards to the families listed in the newsletter each month.
- Encourage friendly competition off the job, such as bowling and softball leagues, and post pictures and results around the work sites.
Provide a warm, accepting and fun workplace atmosphere.
If you want your employees to look forward to Monday mornings, create an atmosphere that includes fun and camaraderie. Acknowledging employee needs and allowing talent and creativity to flourish will keep employees motivated and happy.
Examples of providing an accepting workplace include:
- Have a whine and geeze area where employees can go to melt away stress.
- Inject funny quotes and cartoons into company memos.
- Have positive parties funded by negative people (every time a colleague is overheard making a negative comment, he puts 50 cents into a kitty).
- Have monthly theme contests for which goofy prizes are awarded.
- Have a surprise treat day once a month, such as having the manager serve the employees bags of popcorn, or ice-cream bars, etc.
If you begin to employ these five potent strategies into your self-storage workplace, you will see amazing results.
Jack Singer is a licensed industrial, organizational and clinical psychologist as well as a professional speaker, management coach and trainer. Singer trains everyone from CEOs and human resources professionals to elite athletes throughout the world. He is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, Fox Sports and numerous sports talk radio shows across the United States and Canada. He is also the author of The Teachers Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide. E-mail him at [email protected].