If you are a retailer or a restaurateur – that is, you manage a company dealing with customers – you know that your staff is an important factor for success. Your workforce’s quality of work, attitude to customers and level of service is part of what makes your brand. If your staff behaves unprofessionally, it won’t matter how good your product is: your customers will say goodbye, and share their unfavorable impression of your brands with their friends and family – and possibly with thousands of strangers, through online reviews. Employers can do a lot to improve – or, conversely, destroy - their employees’ quality of work and productivity. We have listed some common problems that staff members lament. Do you make any of these productivity-killing mistakes in your workplace?
There is not a clear set of rules
How do you train new staff members? Do you tell them clearly what is expected from them, and how to respond to common customer queries and situations, or do you expect them to learn as they go along –making repeated mistakes, and damaging your brand along the way? If you don’t give your employees a clear message, you will get back mixed results. Here’s an idea: The Apple Store staff are trained to follow a series of “steps of customer service”, which prescribe how to behave throughout the shopping experience – from welcoming the customer in the store, all the way to the end of the customer relationship. Many businesses have now created their own simple set of rules, easy to remember and easily adapted to most customer interactions, to ensure that all customers are treated with the attention and care they deserve.
Employees don’t feel part of a teamWhen people feel connected to each other, they work harder and enjoy it more, science has shown. Not only: people who perform their tasks separately from their colleagues tend to be less satisfied in their job and perform more poorly. Here’s an idea: Create a team spirit among staff members organizing team-bonding days. Have all staff engage in fun activities where all members are required to perform at the same time: think drumming together, singing, doing yoga or team sports. Synchronous activity has been proved to increase cooperation and team spirit.
There is no official communication channel
How many times have you had to frantically call your employees to find a last-minute substitution? How often do you end up with the wrong number of staff on the floor because requests for time off got lost or mixed up? Managing staffing by phone calls, messages and Excel sheets is ineffective both for management – which cannot properly control time registrations and budget – and for the staff, which can never be sure of the finalized time schedule, and whether their requests have been accepted and accounted for. Here’s an idea: The best workforce management systems include tools for clear, straightforward communication between staff and management. LS Staff Management features an Employee Portal, a great tool for staff members who can use it to view upcoming shifts, comment on their hours, receive messages, accept or decline work requests, request to work certain days, ask for shift changes or time off, and see their manager’s responses to these requests. The system immediately alerts managers to any requests that need addressing, which they can accept or reject.
SilenceYou probably play music in your stores and restaurants for your customers – but what about areas that are off-limits to customers? Although some managers believe music in the workplace to be a source of distraction, science has shown that playing music can have big benefits on people’s state of mind – and productivity levels. Not only: people are also more concentrated if they work at the rhythm of music. Here’s an idea: In-store music is not only for the customers: employees and managers benefit from it too. Many scientific studies support that people tend to work faster, and complete their tasks more accurately and creatively, when listening to music. Just make sure that you choose something agreeable for everyone – your 16-year-old busboy probably won’t be a fan of Perry Como.
There is not a positive working cultureWhat’s the atmosphere in your stores like? Are people helpful to each other and smiling? Or are they nagging about management, prone to criticism, quick to take the credit for their colleagues’ work but ready to shift the blame when things go bad? Working in a negative workplace has lots of downsides: people are unhappy, hard-working staff members will end up leaving, and quickly the word will spread to other potential employees, making hiring good staff difficult. According to a recent survey from human resources firm TriNet, 36 percent of small business owners believe that company culture and reputation are the most important factors for employee morale - ranking higher than compensation (9 percent). Here’s an idea: Make sure you create a strong, positive culture: reward employees who contribute to the performance of the entire team, underline the importance of honesty and discipline, support staff members who are going through hard times, and treat all employees with trust, respect and gratitude – no matter their level in the organization, age, gender. Make sure that management gives the good example.
Employees’ strengths are not leveraged
Sometimes employees have to perform tasks they do not enjoy – and that’s just part of the job. On the other hand, it is often possible to find the right person for each task - putting Laura, who is great with kids, in the children’s shoes section, or making sure that Jon, who performs well under pressure, is the one dealing with impatient diners during the lunch rush. The problem is, management is often guiltily unaware of their staff members’ skills and preferences, and therefore unable to assign the right task to the ideal person. Here’s an idea: Your employees are more than just a number. Take the time to get to know your staff: who they are, what they are good at and love to do, and what tasks they find hard or unpleasant to do. Taking a genuine interest in your employees can lead to a better work relationship, and possibly to the discovery of untapped skills and abilities related to the job. Happier workers are more productive workers – it’s been proved. If any of the factors outlined above are the cause behind dissatisfaction and poor employee performance at your company, here’s the good news: you can take action now. Contact us if you need help finding the right technology to improve the quality of work in your workplace.