Customer service is a people industry. Although self-service has become an option for customers, people still play in important role in the customer’s experience. Employees are people. Just as customers share information regarding their experience with your company, employees do the same. What are your employees expressing about your organization? There are several websites which contain employee expressions regarding their employer. After reviewing some of the remarks, it’s clear that employers should take the time to check the “employee thermostat” of their organization. Here are several ways to do this.
Simply Spend Time With Them - This is probably the easiest and most cost-effective way to determine how your employees feel. Get in the trenches with your employees. Experience their daily routine right along side them. Do this without criticizing their methods. Spend more time learning about them as people – How long have you been with the company? What makes you happy here? What causes you frustration when attempting to perform your daily duties. This is the first step to improving employee morale.
Ask For Their Opinion – Another simple way to determine how your employees feel is to ask for their opinion. A key phrase in employee relations is “What Do You Think?” Most people appreciate being asked for their opinion. Give your employees the opportunity to state how they feel about the organization. When provided with a vehicle to express their opinion, most employees will utilize the opportunity to honestly communicate how they feel. It’s also a good idea to be receptive to unsolicited opinions. Now I’m not a proponent of tactless communication – giving one’s opinion in an inappropriate or distasteful manner as this will put the employer in a defensive position which creates a no-win situation for the employee. I am however a proponent of being open and receptive to unsolicited opinions. Instead of asking employees to wait for the annual employee survey to voice their opinions, encourage them to give their opinion – tactfully and respectfully – when they feel it’s necessary.
Keep Fear Out of Your Organization – There is one item that will simply destroy an organization from the inside out – it’s called fear. This morale killer has no place in your organization. It works against any attempt to create a positive culture. If employees feel that voicing their opinion is met with reprisal, they will refrain from sharing the opinion within your organization, but that will share that same opinion elsewhere. Check the “fear” level within your organization. Do your departmental or team meetings take on the characteristics of a lecture vs a meeting? One way or two-way communication? Questions from the employees to management? How does management respond to employee questions or comments? These are a few ways to spot the existence of fear within your organization. When in group settings, does the leader (manager/supervisor) answer all of the questions for the group? These are a few ways to spot the existence of fear within your organization.
Be Open To Making Adjustments – Most employees care about the welfare of their employer, after all it’s where they spend a good portion of the day. I can say from experience that employee opinions usually contain ideas for improvement within the organization. Maybe they feel that the workload is too great or time constraints do not allow for proper servicing of the customer. Your willingness as a leader to spend time with employees and solicit their opinions will surely result in identifying operational improvement opportunities. The big questions is – What do you do now that you see that these opportunities exist? Knowing of the opportunities and acting upon them is two different things which can generate two different messages. Send the message of “We Care” by implementing adjustments and changes and not the message of “It’s Just Another Game”. Employees will feel that you really don’t mean what you say if their opinions fall on deaf ears or if suggestions go with some implementation.
Remember, employees are needed to properly service the customer. Take steps to gauge how they really feel. As I have often asked leaders – Can you do all of this work by yourselves? Let your employees know how valuable they are by simply asking – How Do You Really Feel?