By Jim A. Luff
Over the past 19 years of operation as a company, we have tried to foster a family atmosphere. This includes an annual employee recognition dinner, a trip to an amusement park for employee families and cocktails following safety meetings. Hmm, that doesn't sound quite right does it?
Recently one of our long term chauffeurs passed away after battling a long time illness.
Lori Henley worked for us for more than 10 years, and was in the limousine business for nearly 15 years. Her funeral was held in the evening and saw many fellow employees in attendance. After the service, many of us gathered for dinner where we reminisced about Lori. Despite the fact that it was a somber occasion, we still laughed as we remembered jobs that were funny or unusual that Lori was involved in.
I realized how important company socialization is. I realized that we were the only family Lori had as a single woman. I thought about how I know the name of each employee’s significant other along with the names of their children. I even know the schools that most of the children attend because my employees are my extended family.
While it is not feasible for us to go on a family vacation, it is feasible to go to dinner or even go to an amusement park together on a Sunday. Doing such things means farming jobs out to other limo companies in the area so that no employee will have to work. It means sending incoming calls to an answering machine saying that we are closed for a special employee appreciation day (we leave an emergency cell number on the message) and ask that people please call back the following day.
When your employees know that you truly care about them and their families, I believe it causes them to become more loyal knowing they are a part of the family and not just an employee. It allows dispatchers to have “face time” with chauffeurs. It allows other support personnel to get to know the chauffeurs who usually are just a voice on the radio as our garage and dispatch facilities are in two physically different buildings and chauffeurs rarely come to the business office.
I encourage you to take a moment and plan something fun for your employees even if it is just a simple picnic in the park with some silly games like Tug-O-War or sack races. The investment will pay back in the long run as most of our employees have been with us nearly a decade or longer. Try it. You just might like it.
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