Yesterday’s blog post about making employees happy has quickly risen to the second most popular post on my website. Hopefully the people who are reading it are taking some of the things I talked about and are making plans to implement them in their own businesses.
I’ve gotten quite a bit of email regarding the post and decided to answer some of the better ones here so that others may benefit from my answers:
We have tried casual dress in our company and there are always those who abuse it. It got to the point where we had to go back to a strict code. This didn’t go over very well and upper management basically told us managers to tell employees to “suck it up” and “it is what it is.” I fought for the people on my team, but it fell on deaf ears. After reading your article, I’d like to approach my boss with suggestions for a dress code that we can all live with. Do you have suggestions?
Like any policy there are going to be those who try to push the boundaries to see just how far they can get away with things. When it comes to establishing a dress code, you need to take into consideration a few different things:
Environment – Dress code is going to vary for those who work in a warehouse or manufacturing facility than those who work in the customer service department. The designated fire warden can decide on the proper attire for every department. Safety must come first when coming up with what is and isn’t allowed to be worn in these work areas. For example, warehouse workers should be required to wear some type of safety shoe. You may not want to allow shorts in a warehouse for safety reasons, but the folks in the office may be allowed to. If you have machinery that has moving parts, you may require long hair to be pulled back.
Appearance – Casual doesn’t mean jump out of bed and come to work in your sleep pants. All employees, should be required to present themselves in a neat and clean appearance at all times.
Decency – That pair of short-shorts may look great on the receptionist, but is it really acceptable work attire? Jeans worn around the knees and underwear sticking out the top may be an urban trend, but do you really want to allow that in your business?
Unacceptable Garments – What is going to be on your banned-at-work list? In my companies, we had a few things that were on the list. Short-shorts, tube tops, flip-flops, baggy pants, t-shirts with logos that were not company logos, t-shirts with slogans were some of them.
Once you have your policy in place, you need to enforce it and deal with those who violate it rather than kill the policy for everyone which results in negativity across the entire organization. One thing I’d like to add, when visitors were on-site, we asked employees to step it up a notch with their dress. To borrow a paragraph from our employee handbooks, when guests were expected “We want clean and classy. That doesn’t mean dressy, but it doesn’t mean “I’m with Stupid” t-shirts, either. We don’t want robots, but we don’t want slobs. Help us look good, feel good and not give up even a pinch of our informality or our edge.”
In regards to your comments about casual dress, define “casual.”
Polo shirts, t-shirts with company logos, plain t-shirts without logos or slogans, jeans that are not torn, shorts that are not torn or considered short-shorts, sneakers, sandals.
Having worked for you, I know your thoughts on hats. Has that changed?
Hats drive me crazy as you know! Perhaps because my mother always said, “keep wearing that hat and you’re going to go bald.” She warned me about going blind for doing something else too, but that hasn’t happened yet and I’m pretty sure baldness runs in the family.
When it comes to hats, I’m kind of old fashioned. I never wear a hat inside a building, but I realize times have changed. At one point, the only employees allowed to wear hats in the workplace were the warehouse staff at TheFerretStore.com. But eventually I gave into pressure from employees and the others on my executive team and caved. UGH! There was one exception to the hat rule – they could not be worn backwards. I’m still against hats in the office, by the way.
I hate to admit it, but I’m terrible at communicating with my employees. Which is probably why I’m struggling with my business. I don’t have the money to take my employees, I have 12, out for lunch on a regular basis, but I need to do something to improve communications and motivate them. What is something low-budget that you can recommend?
I think regular meetings with your staff are crucial and I gather you’re not doing them, which is disappointing. Your employees want to hear from you! They long to be nurtured! They want to be told about what’s going on in your business and how things are going! Open up and give them what they want. Why not bring in donuts and coffee in one morning for everyone, invite them to sit down with you as a group, and talk about what’s going on with the biz. It’s inexpensive, gets people talking and who knows, maybe your Coffee Klatch will turn into something you will do on a regular basis.
I wanted to start a company softball team with a group of my co-workers. When we approached the owner of the company with the idea he said no because there is too much liability for him. Is this true or is it him just being a d**k?
I’ll start off by saying I’m not a lawyer, only pretended to be once when I couldn’t get a telemarketer to stop calling me, and I never played one on television, radio or the Dr. Phil show. Now that I got that out of the way, I’m not sure what liability flows down to the employer if an employee is injured during an event like this, so it would be best to seek the advice of an attorney. However, we did have an attorney on staff at Solid Cactus who did require that employees who used the basketball court in our gymnasium to sign a waiver. I’m not sure if that was because it was on company property or not, so I’d ask someone who knows law about this.
I’m getting ready to hire my first full-time employee. She has been working part-time for me for several years now and I’ve reached the point where I need her full-time. What type of benefits should I consider offering her?
Well, as a full-time employee she’s going to expect to have a suite of perks! Just kidding. At minimum, you should offer her health coverage that you partially subsidize, paid national holidays, paid sick time and some type of paid vacation. Most employers require you to be employed for X number of months before paid vacation kicks in, but since she has been with you part-time for a while, I’d give her paid vacation now. Of course, whatever perks you offer your full-time employees, make sure they’re something you and your business can afford.
I’m glad you pointed out that good employees should be recognized. I’ve been working for the same company for almost five years now and I consider myself a good employee. I work customer service and always get high scores from my supervisors, but the company does nothing to recognize us for our work. I know other people who work customer service at other companies and they get awards, certificates, prizes, they even have a raffle for an all expenses paid vacation once a year for the reps who get a certain score on their annual review. While I like where I work, it sucks not getting a simple “thanks for a good job” from my boss or anyone else in the company.
Wow. I can understand how you feel and I’m sorry your managers have learned to live with that type of work environment. It’s unfortunate, but it’s also a fact that many companies operate this way. I often hear of companies that treat their employees as collateral rather than people and I wonder just how they manage to keep employees coming into work each day. As business owners, managers and supervisors, we all need to remember and recognize the people who work for us – after all, without them we’re nothing. I would suggest getting a group of fellow employees together to discuss this outside of work and get your ideas together for how you can better improve the workplace then ask to schedule a meeting with upper management and bring your ideas to them. If the managers are worth their salt and salary, they will accept your meeting and rise to the challenge to make your place of work one their employees want to come to each day.
Just wanted to say I printed your column out and am going to go over the things you discussed next week during our managers meeting. You gave me some great ideas that I want to implement in my own company, so thank you!
Glad I was able to help. Print, share and give to other business owners as well in the hopes that they too can better the work environment for their employees.
That’s all for now. Keep your comments and questions coming. Drop me a line using the box on the right side of the page.