The most successful businesses have the most engaged employees, but creating an atmosphere where employees are completely involved is no easy task.
Here is what employees want. First they want job security. Oh, they understand the reality of the marketplace, but if they know that the management decision making process is not arbitrary, that goes a long way to mitigating that concern of job security.
After job security, employees want a stake in the outcome of the business. For the most part, they can’t verbalize that because they don’t know how businesses work and make money. But given the information and a plan, they really want a stake in the outcome.
So, the short version is employees want thoughtful management decision making, job security and a part of the success of the business. Having all this creates a terrific culture in a business, and studies show it dramatically increases sales and, more importantly, profits.
The hard part is how to create a great culture in a business. It is not easy, and I can attest to seven years of practice at it.
Here is the short course on culture building.
1. Every week we have an all-company meeting, with a written agenda, that is recorded on video and posted to a private Firehouse blog for out-of-town employees and second shift people. At the “huddle up” I explain the company finances, sales successes, equipment purchases, business successes and setbacks. Week after week all the employees of Firehouse hear the unvarnished truth about the business and its income statement and balance sheet. If you work at Firehouse, you know what is going on and you know it’s the truth. We also try to recognize special and general company achievements.
2. Everyone is taught the mantra that our success is a “team effort” and to “run to problems”, not away from them.
3. We have video screens in the plant that display daily, up-to-date sales, bonus information and other business metrics.
4. We have a bonus plan that pays over 20% of the after-tax profits to employees.
5. We do not allow negative people to work at Firehouse.
The result is a highly informed staff who know why we are doing what we are doing and how we make money. And they know how much of the bonus pool they stand to get paid.
It’s hard to do. It’s a never-ending job. We get it wrong sometimes.
None of us would have it any other way.