Are you the boss? That is, do you have employees working for you or with you for whom you are the direct report? You could be the owner and/or manager of a collection agency or law firm, or even the manager of a department in such a business. If you are, you could benefit from regularly asking your employees and co-workers what it’s like to work for you. Because happy, satisfied employees stay the longest and do the best work, it is to your advantage to get their feedback and provide a pleasant work environment that includes the benefits and other incentives that employees really want. Why spend money on practices that aren’t yielding as much benefit as you might have thought?
“Best Places to Work in Collections”
For the past six years, InsideARM.com has honored “The Best Places to Work in Collections,” celebrating excellence in small, medium and large companies. To participate in the two-part survey program and be considered for the 2014 awards, click here. You will be asked to provide information on workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics. Then, employees complete a survey that measures their experience. That’s where “What is it like to work for you?” comes into the picture. Many companies enter every year and testify that it is very helpful for them to evaluate themselves and their employees in this way.
Incentives from a call center environment
When I oversaw the annual User Conference of the dialer software company I worked for, one of our best-attended sessions was an open discussion of how to motivate employees in a call center environment. Consistently, attendees—mostly collection agency owners and managers—agreed that, although important, money wasn’t always the most important employee incentive. Some of the things that mattered more, or at least as much, included: adequate training, verbal appreciation for a job well done, constructive criticism in private, time off, a gift card for a dinner or a movie (that had to be spent on a relaxing evening, not bills), contests between teams for small prizes or even company-wide recognition, lunch with the boss, choosing the piped-in music, and other creative ideas. I believe the incentives that worked for them could work in a variety of work-place settings.
Medical/vision/dental insurance and vacation/sick/personal time-off are benefits all employees consider important, but they are also becoming more expensive to offer, especially for small companies. In addition to the standard benefits, what are other companies offering to entice the best and brightest employees to join the team and stay?
• Paid training time
• Profit sharing or other bonuses
• 401K Plan
• Medical savings plan
• Tax Time (time off to do your taxes when vacation time is limited or not allowed)
• Working from home, at least part of the week
• Maternity leave for both mother and father
• Flextime, allowing employees to customize their hours within a certain range of hours and days
• In-house child care
• Allowing vacation or sick time to carry over from one year to the next
• Wellness and safety incentives
• A kitchen area with a refrigerator and microwave oven
Measurable incentives like those above are often easier to provide than the people-related behaviors that make an office a pleasant environment to work in. Verbal recognition for a job well-done, extra hours worked, or exceptional teamwork can go a long way toward making an employee want to come to work and do his or her best. Making personality-fit a part of your hiring process can help to ensure that new employees will get along with existing ones. Having a company mission statement that everyone has a say in creating can help to set the bar for future behavior and success. An open-door policy where employees feel free to give constructive suggestions for improvement and ask for help with challenging projects can also contribute to employee satisfaction.
What is it like to work for you? We would love to get your comments and feedback on benefits and incentives offered by your business or law firm that you don’t see mentioned here. If we get enough of them, we’ll share them in a follow-up blog.
By Marti Lythgoe, NL Editor