Low-cost gestures can be highly effective in raising staff morale
Straight-talking, common sense from the front line of management
QProviding perks and benefits to improve staff happiness and well-being makes complete sense to me, but as a cash-strapped small company, I can’t take the team abroad once a year or hand out gym memberships. What low-cost things can I offer my employees?
Although we have a string of free-stay holiday homes and hold regular conferences in memorable locations, it’s often the things that cost very little that are most appreciated.
Why not give all of your colleagues an extra day of paid holiday on their birthday? A senior director of a big business recently told me that giving every member of staff their birthday off would be too expensive, but in my experience, it costs nothing and the goodwill created pays off in greater loyalty and fewer sickies.
Another inexpensive gesture is the handwritten letter. If you’re tempted to send one of your colleagues an email to say “well done”, think again. Pick up a pen, write a proper letter and put it in a handwritten envelope made out to their home address. You can
Amake staff feel really appreciated by enclosing a £50 cheque (tax paid).
You seldom buy staff happiness or loyalty by footing the bill for an ambitious bonanza of benefits. The most important ingredients are time, consideration and kindness, so spend part of every day talking to individual employees. But instead of telling them what to do or monitoring their performance, simply have a chat – it’s important everyone knows the boss.
Above all else, leaders should endeavour to help every team member to become the best that they can possibly be, which includes helping them to cope with difficulties beyond the world of work, such as stress, bereavement, debt and family problems. Being a mentor seldom costs much money, but it can take a lot of time. You need to know colleagues well and treat them as individuals. Extravagant events may make a difference, but the best gift that you can give your colleagues is to ensure that they enjoy coming to work.
Being in a workplace that feels like home provides the attachment and trust that’s good for well-being and makes us feel human.
With the festive season coming up, my diary is filled with end-of-the-year networking events and drinks. I actually find them quite useful and not as dull or frightening as some, but I’d like to be in and out quicker so that I can spend more time with the family. What advice would you give to someone who wants to network more efficiently?
QAFirst, don’t accept every invitation; only go to events that you can look forward to. Second, set a deadline; an hour is usually enough and after 90 minutes, you will have spoken to everyone of any interest.
Arrive early, before it gets too crowded, and walk around the room to see if there’s anyone whom you particularly want to meet. These functions are an informal form of speed dating – there’s no need for any conversation to last longer than five minutes.
If you meet someone really interesting, put a meeting in your diaries. You could say: “It’s great to meet you and we ought to have a proper chat, so let’s fix a date to meet in January.”
The tricky bit is finding a polite way to escape from someone who’s dull and boring. A few helpful comments to pull the parachute cord include: “Gosh, I didn’t realise that it was so late”; “Please excuse me, as there’s someone whom I need to catch before I go”; and “Sorry, but I must leave you, as I have to make a phone call at 7pm.”
I hope these hints help you to have some happy and productive hours of networking, but I’m willing to bet that when you clear out your pockets the following morning, most of the business cards will go straight into the waste paper basket.