I went into a shop to buy lunch last week. As I stared at the menu board trying to decide what I wanted to order, one of the assistants at the counter politely asked me with a smile, what I would like to order. I told her that I hadn’t made my mind up yet and so she went on to do other things. By the time, I’d made a decision she was no longer at the counter, so I placed my order with another assistant who was equally as polite and smiley.
As I waited for my order the assistant that I had originally spoken to returned. “Have you made your mind up yet?” she asked. “Yes I have, I’m just waiting to collect” I responded.
I went on to comment how they appeared to be so happy working asking, if the shop was a nice place to work in.
They looked at each other, somewhat surprised if not outright affronted by the question. One then piped up and very clearly stated, “I enjoy serving people; I like helping people, but I don’t like it here”
At this point my order arrived and more customers came to the counter so I didn’t have the opportunity to ask any more questions to understand what it is that they disliked about the shop. I did, however, walk away feeling quiet sad. It’s nice that they like what they do, but it’s sad that the shop does not appear to have created the best possible atmosphere and/or conditions for their employees.
People often criticise the attitude of workers, especially young adults. These two ladies had a great attitude, however, the organisation would probably lose them. As they were engaged with the work they’d do, it’s possible that it would just take a few small shifts to make them happy. A key problem though is not that their employer might not care, but that they might not know how their employees feel.
I gained an insight because I asked them. Their employer would find out if they took the time to engage with them on how they feel. Be it through surveys; formal and/or informal conversations; performance management; team meetings; employee suggestion boxes to mention a through of the methods of obtaining feedback from the staff. People do give feedback, unless they believe it may lead to recriminations or that it will simply no be taken seriously.
Key question for you – if I was to bump into one of your employees and ask them what it’s like working for you, what would they say and would you already know? Don’t assume to know – ask.
Susan Popoola is the Managing Director of Conning Towers Ltd, a boutique style Human Value Optimisation Firm. She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective and Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain.
Copyright 2016. This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source.