If you can walk in, sit down, feel relaxed and refreshed, your workplace lunchroom has passed the test.
But if you’re consigned to a narrow corner, a lumpy armchair, or a draughty doorway for your tea break, the offer of a temperate, pleasantly decorated, fragrant place to recharge would be hard to turn down.
In these days of low unemployment, it wouldn’t take much for staff to consider walking if they felt they were going to be better treated elsewhere. Employers are having to think twice about the way they show that they value their people, not least by creating a setting conducive to a long and productive working relationship.
Managing employee relations starts well before a person’s first day at a new job. Legislative compliance and tribute paid to fair practices throughout the advertising, pre-selection and interviewing process sets the groundwork for future employment relationships. Mutual cultural awareness, a sound induction process, performance and remuneration reviews all add to the mix.
How does your company show its staff they are valued? How does what your customers see measure up to what your staff see? What steps do you take on a regular basis to ensure that they ‘whistle while they work’?
Any company with a business plan in place should have at some stage given thought to its purpose, values and objectives. Talking to your staff and listening to their responses can raise some surprisingly good ideas that may even fit in with what your company stands for. How easily could some of them be introduced?
Take a quick glance at the physical environment your staff work – and take breaks – in. Could some superficial ‘tarting up’ be all it takes to improve the atmosphere? Or would an objective eye see that it’s going to take more than a wipe with a damp cloth to make things better?
Replacing inadequate systems with more modern technology, having work-stations assessed for their ergonomic suitability, and at an aesthetic level, perhaps a lick of paint, are investments that could make all the difference to restoring or improving staff morale.
Recognition of extra effort or special circumstances by way of a one-off payment, a voucher for dinner for two, or some other personalised ‘thank you’ have in some way replaced the health insurance and superannuation schemes that were once standard elements of a remuneration package. And this type of acknowledgement actually says more loudly and clearly ‘you are a valued member of our team’.
It’s about more than free coffee and teabags these days, but the lunchroom is a good place to start.
Prepared by Ian Chitty