Good managers can help improve your employees' productivity

How do your hourly employees feel about their workplace? Are they happy and engaged? Or are they just putting in their time?

When employee morale is low, productivity suffers. But that’s not the worst of it. Your company’s revenues and reputation are also at stake because work slumps can quickly give way to slumping sales. Happy employees, on the other hand, are more likely to create happy, loyal customers.

So what do you have to do to get happier, more productive employees? Commit to cultivating a work environment in which employees feel valued and appreciated. Do that and you can expect to see increased productivity, decreased turnover and improved profitability. Following are 13 practices aimed at protecting employees from productivity loss.

Share corporate goals

Communicate goals—regularly. Help employees understand how their work affects the overall success of the company. For example, if the company’s goal is to encourage more cash sales, have frontline employees ask customers “Will that be cash?” Or if the goal is to increase sales per customer, train employees to upsell “this” with “that.”

Ask for feedback

Unless you’re a mind reader, you can’t know what your employees think unless you ask. Ask what concerns them about their jobs. Provide opportunities to make suggestions on how to make things better. Then share all feedback with management—anonymously if that makes employees feel more comfortable.

Hire good managers

In its 2015 State of the American Manager report, the Gallup reported that managers account for a 70-plus percent variance in employee engagement scores.

Set challenges

Create weekly, monthly and quarterly goals for employees. Create a list of possible rewards and have them choose the ones that would motivate them such as gift cards, “Employee of the Month” parking or popular electronics items such as an iPad.

Give praise

A little appreciation goes a long way. In his book, The One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard encourages managers to catch employees doing something right and then give them a full minute of praise. Don’t miss any chance you get to encourage and build up employees, especially opportunities to do so in the presence of others.

Say please and thank you

You may be the boss but that does not exempt you from having good manners. Saying please and thank you shows respect.

Support personal growth

Consider setting up a schedule of brown bag lunch speakers to present on topics of interest to your employees including health and wellness, relationships, stress management or decluttering. Find local speakers through your local Chamber of Commerce or Toastmaster’s group. Or do a Google search using keywords for a specific topic along with the word “speaker” and the name of your city.

Promote team spirit

Schedule gatherings and events that help employees bond, such as team luncheons, summer picnics and holiday parties. As a company, you might encourage employees to sign up as a team for a 5K run, raise money for a charitable organization or volunteer for roadside cleanup through the “Adopt A Highway” program.

Recognize milestones

Acknowledge employee birthdays, company anniversaries, achievements and promotions. Send a companywide email announcement. But don’t stop there. Send a card to their home address—a simple, unexpected kindness that shows you care and can rally families.

Empower employees

Identify certain situations in which employees can make decisions on their own authority. For example: If a restaurant customer wants to substitute sliced tomatoes for toast with her breakfast, the server knows in advance that it’s OK to do that. Or if a customer is kept waiting for longer than 30 minutes, the cashier can give a 10 percent courtesy discount.

Give workers the tools they need

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to do a job correctly without the right tools. It might be a physical tool or a manual or guide. The right “tool” might also be training to do the job properly.

Make priorities clear

Be sure that employees know that in an A or B situation, A is always the thing to do first. When and if priorities change, you should let employees know right away.

Smile!

One of the simplest ways to improve employee morale is to smile and greet them by name. Having a bad day? Smile anyway. It will make you feel better, too.

Donna Smallin Kuper writes for eBay about the role electronics play in boosting employee productivity. She shares productivity and organizing secrets on her website unclutter.com.