You’ve done staff surveys, you have regular meetings with employees to discuss their goals and objectives. You even give them free beer on a Friday. Well done, CEO, give yourself a pat on the back.

But what do you know about the frustrations that your employees experience on a day-to-day basis? Do you know that your employees will come to you when they have an issue, confident that you will listen? The chances are this is not the case. They might be trying to resolve the issues by themselves but not getting anywhere. They get more and more frustrated and before you know it they just throw in the towel and resign.

I’ve been the frustrated employee. I’ve let little things wind me up so much that I’ve ended up crying on my way home, feeling like a total failure. I was trying to do the right thing. I was trying to make a difference. But I was getting road blocks and red tape everywhere I turned. My boss knew. But their boss didn’t. And nor did any other boss all the way up to the Board. The Board thought everything was fine. There hadn’t been anywhere on the most recent staff survey to articulate my frustration at having a digital clock on the wall with the wrong time on it. The result of which meant my team were late for meetings no matter how often I told them and prompted them to go to them.

It was the tiniest little thing, and could have been so easily fixed. But the knock on impact on my job was big. Not massive, but material.

Another time I was having to write full business justifications for all the new equipment I needed for my team. This is not unreasonable, although it is when the equipment is a PC and the reason I need it is because we had a new joiner. I had to write not only this business justification, but also explain what would happen and the impact to the business if we didn’t get this equipment. This task generally took me about half an hour to complete. For each new joiner. It was highly frustrating, and I even once got my request declined and we ended up with a new joiner sitting at an empty desk for a whole week. All that was needed was for this request to be in the form of a streamlined request directly from HR. But could I get it implemented? In four months of trying, I couldn’t even find the person who had enough authority to even suggest this to. So I gave up, and the process remains that that to this day because “that’s what we’ve always done”.

 

Do you even know what makes them happy?

You give your employees cakes on their birthday. Great! But what about your diabetic employees, or gluten intolerant ones?

Perhaps you have field staff. Do you go and visit them? Do you invite them into your Head Office to mingle with the office staff? Maybe they would hate that. Do you know? You’ve done loads of analysis on what tools to provide field staff, but are they practical in the every day? Can they fit a screwdriver in their pocket? Does their tablet struggle to show full websites like a laptop would? Is their vehicle impossible to park in the particular area in which they work?

 

Does “happy” equal success?

Are you spending loads of effort trying to make your staff happy, when in reality all they want is a printer which doesn’t break down and a coffee maker less than five metres away from their desk. Are you piling them with alcohol and cakes which makes them very unproductive in the afternoons.

For me, personally, I always performed best in exam conditions at school, whereas some of my peers fared better at the coursework. So sometimes putting someone under a little bit of pressure can actually make them more productive and thus your company more successful.

 

How would you measure your efforts?

Most companies ask their staff to fill out surveys, but they tend to be skewed to what the management team want to ask. Or, want to be told.

This means that the measurements are in line with management targets but not necessarily in line with keeping your employees happy. So you are effectively measuring something completely pointless.

Staff retention rates are generally a good place to start, as are sickness levels. But that’s just the start. Do you look at how often your staff stay late? Staying late every night can potentially be a sign of stress (too much work) and unhappiness (at getting home late). Whereas staff who leave at a generally static time every night tend to be much happier in themselves. Further, someone who stays late once in a while tends to be someone who is happy and who also cares enough about their job to stay behind occasionally to get a job finished.

 

Ultimately..

Are you asking your staff the right questions to work out how to get the most out of them? And then, MOST IMPORTANTLY – do you listen to what they have to say?

You need to be in a position where your employees are confident enough to come to you with their issues and suggestions. Virtually all companies these days are so far away from that, they have to start right at the beginning.

And that’s where I come in. Ask me how

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