In today’s competitive markets, good employees are getting harder to find—and keep. Cutting generous paychecks isn’t enough. Employees want individualized benefits, good working conditions, beneficial relationships with management and coworkers and recognition. Maintaining an enthused staff while meeting all the demands of your own job can be overwhelming. But some employers have left the comfort zones of tradition to find new ways to make their employees happy.
One–to–one management finds its foundations in the idea that no two employees are alike. Getting to know individuals and rewarding them according to their personal tastes is what it is all about. The following are examples of what a few employers are doing to make their employees feel more than just appreciated.
Linda Conner, vice–president of corporate culture at Technology Professionals Corp, (TPC) constantly gathers data about her employees. At reviews she asks about their families, hobbies, interests and life situation. Whenever she wants to reward an employee she can think of something special using the knowledge she has gained. Among other things, she once arranged for an employee to fly on a F17 bomber! Not only does she use this technique for rewards, but she also understands what she can do when an employee or his family needs some extra help.
Not only does Connor personalize her relationship with her employees, she trusts them. Once a year she asks the company’s programmers for hire to research the market value for their own skills and experience and allows them to propose dollar amounts for annual raises. She understands that involving her employees wherever possible assures her that they are committed to the TPC family.
John Mertzger, CEO and founder of Mertzger Associates, Inc., let his 30–plus employees create their own “Live Long and Prosper” plan. They came up with a unique plan that allotted them yearly funds for four different types of activities: $600 for physical fitness, $500 for outdoor living, $600 for relaxation and $1,000 for education. Mertzger has never denied his employees’ use of these funds and has watched his turnover rate decrease to 2%.
Even if you don’t have the power to introduce innovative programs like Connor or Mertzger, there are several ways you can improve your employees’ morale. Look to imaginative sources for new ideas. Sean McLaughlin found inspiration for managing his employees at Eze Castle Software when he visited his daughter’s kindergarten class. The teacher used a rotating ‘chore wheel’ to divide up cleaning tasks and gave her students milk and cookie breaks every afternoon. McLaughlin used the same chore wheel to get his employees to help maintain the office and gave them milk and cookie breaks everyday at 2:30 so they could have a few minutes to interact with each other.
Be creative when it comes to taking care of your employees. Get to know them and let them help you think of ways to improve their own workplace. Don’t be afraid to invest. Spending a little extra on employee benefits will prove worthwhile when retention and productivity increase.
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