Your time, energy, and capital resources are finite; however, your potential problems are infinite. This is a reality. Employees, independent operators, and management can be a mild interference, a weapon of mass destruction, or your most precious and vital resource for your entire company. As an owner or manager, you are directly responsible for the results you settle for. “Those are key words,” says David Eckstein of Valera Global in Long Island City, N.Y. “You should never settle for anything less than the best, even though it’s very difficult.”
If you create policies to keep your employees happy, you can create an atmosphere that will keep your workforce strong and build a reputation that will have qualified applicants coming to your door. However, there are always the bad apples that need to be weeded out. You need to know how to handle discipline and termination in a way that will protect you and your other employees. Things beyond your control will happen. The key is to limit the opportunities for problems to happen so you and your staff will lose less valuable time and resources “dealing” with problems. He adds that it is easier to avoid a problem than to fix it. The goals of everyone within your company are virtually the same.
Psychology studies have shown that money is not the most important priority for happy employees. In fact, a productive, enjoyable, and positive working atmosphere is far more important to employees than money. “This just goes to show that even though people want to make a good living, people will leave a high-wage job if conditions aren’t favorable,” he says. “It’s all about attitude, understanding, and mutual perception. They want to be recognized and rewarded for what they do well.”
Maintenance Is Everything Set up and review consistent hiring and firing procedures. This is the best way to produce the most consistent results with the least amount of problems. It’s not just about knowing what is right, but about doing what you know is right and has to be done. “The most intelligent person in the world can’t succeed without actually putting that knowledge to use,” says Eckstein. “The key is action, not thoughts.”
Hiring is more than simply finding good employees, it’s also about keeping them. Less than 30 years ago the standard for long-term secure employment averaged nearly 25 years. In the ‘90s, that number became less than five years. “In our industry, it’s even worse,” says Eckstein. “Because nearly everyone knows how to drive, most people believe it’s easy to be a chauffeur. It’s no surprise that the long hours, lower than expected earnings, and chauffeur burnout account for a higher turnover rate than most other positions in the labor pool these days.”
Employee retention is a major concern for any company no matter what size. Replacing a chauffeur or any employee is a very expensive and time-consuming process.
High employee turnover can:
1) Cost nearly 2.5 times an employee’s annual salary to replace them.
2) Affect client relations and their confidence in your company.
3) Negatively affect your other employees’ morale.
4) Severely damage your company’s growth potential.
When It Becomes Inevitable: Letting an Employee Go When you do fire an employee, you have to make it a point to bring a witness. This is a task that should never be done alone. Whether you pair up with an HR person, an office manager, or supervisor, there must be a witness in that case. You should also provide a written reason for dismissal and have the former employee as well as a witness sign the document. “If that employee says anything during the termination process, you have to write it down,” he says. “This is extremely important. It’s for your own protection.”
When an employee is terminated, there should be a company representative with that person at all times until he or she has left the premises. “That person is responsible for making sure that employee takes his or her own property before exiting and then escort that person to the exit,” explains Eckstein. “This should not be conducted in a confrontational manner. It should be as friendly and nice as possible.” If the individual becomes a problem, you may have to have a second escort and a witness.
Once the person has exited and is informed that they are not to return to the property, the escorts should write a summary of the process and include all details of any issues or comments of the individual. Again, this is for the protection of your company and its people. Remember, everything you do has a consequence and if you do it the correct way, the cards will be stacked in your favor.
Appreciation and Recognition It’s important to let your employees know when they’re doing a great job. You don’t want them to only hear from you when things are going wrong. Simple gestures of thanks can go a long way. If the person knows you see and acknowledge a job well done, that person will be more apt to go above and beyond to keep your attention in a positive light. Recognize and promote excellence with an employee of the month or year.
Another great tool for employee appreciation is to have a company outing. “We have outings such as awards banquets for the top employees, a kids’ day for children of employees, and company picnics for the entire families,” says Eckstein. “You want to create that family atmosphere that promotes contentment.” He adds that it’s important to make the employees’ families feel as much a part of the company family as the employees themselves. Here are a few other ways to promote positive feelings of employees:
Learn and remember employees’ names.
Acknowledge employees’ birthdays.
Acknowledge employees’ shared personal triumphs (i.e., contest wins, sports victories, etc.).
Support employees during a tragedy.
Simple phrases such as “good morning” and “have a good night.”
Promote from within: Allow your people to develop their skills and move up so they feel they aren’t stagnant.
A Happy Workforce Can Save Money
Eckstein believes there are five key elements that can help a business owner or manager avoid “laying out his own minefield.” These elements are:
01 SCREENING Know the criteria that makes the position you’re filling work. Be sure the potential candidate meets or exceeds the criteria prior to interview.
02 EVALUATING During the interview process, you should have a standardized format which includes a certain “script” of questions. Although you may want to ask additional questions, you must ask all of the standard ones. Also, look at the interviewee’s dress, demeanor, their speech, eye contact, and attitude.
03 TRAINING Again, a standard process should be in place and adhered to. Additional steps may be needed to insure a proper understanding of the job, but you must never cut corners with the basic training structure.
04 MAINTAINING Employees should always be trained to be ready for a changing environment. Retraining and updating on policy and law changes are a must. Always keep them informed.
05 REINVIGORATING Be sure to maintain a pleasant working atmosphere. Bonuses, incentives, and simple compliments can be useful tools to a healthy workplace.