Feb 28, 2011

Everyone is in Marketing

One of the largely overlooked ways to market your business or nonprofit is to provide an optimum work environment. If employees enjoy coming to work, appear happy to be there, and speak glowingly about the workplace in the community, people will seek out that company. The logic is that a company that cares for its employees will likely care for customers and clients as well.

Granted, finances and circumstances may prevent providing lavish amenities like workout facilities or a day care center. However, smaller concessions to provide more flexible work schedules and opportunities to contribute on an individualized basis can be made with minimal cost.

In a recent survey of nonprofit employees, the best workplaces made them feel like the leaders of the organization cared about their well-being. They liked their co-workers. They felt like they could maintain a reasonable balance between work and personal life, and job expectations were made clear.

Creating an enjoyable workplace with a more community-like structure than a traditional corporate structure can be a challenge. If your workplace is already marred by dissatisfaction, mistrust, bitterness, and confusion, you may have a lot of work to do to make it a place where people enjoy coming to work. These nine factors can help rebuild a better work community:

1. Understanding. Most people put family first. An optimum workplace will allow flexible scheduling to allow for sick kids and school programs. Some companies allow people to job share or telecommute in order to get the work done and keep employees happy.

2. Celebration. Everyone loves a party. They don’t have to be elaborate set-ups reminiscent of The Office television series, but acknowledging birthdays and service anniversaries as well as reaching fundraising and other goals shows employees they are appreciated and builds community.

3. Communication. Any company with more than one employee is going to have occasional conflict. Clearly communicated expectations can prevent confusion and misunderstandings. The more lines of communication across and between levels of associates, the better community you will build.

4. Training. Even if expectations are clearly communicated, employees cannot do their jobs if they’ve not been appropriately trained. No person and cookie cutter job description are going to be a perfect match at the start. Give employees the freedom to ask for help.

5. Contribution. No one wants to feel like a nondescript cog in the machinery. Each person has unique talents that may or may not seem to fit into the workplace, but that can still be utilized to further the goals of the company. Some may have ideas for more efficient production, or may be able to design the artwork for marketing flyers.

6. Loyalty. When someone continues in the same job for years, or has a flawless attendance record, or is known to go the extra mile, they deserve recognition. They also deserve opportunities for education and training to grow into new positions as desired.

7. Courtesy. Everyone has heard horror stories about harassment, degradation, and worse in the workplace. Common courtesy in word and deed should be expected from all levels of associates, in all levels of communication.

8. Integrity. Nothing destroys morale worse than supervisors who do not follow through and do what they say they will. Be sure that promises are kept and fairness in hiring and promoting is the norm.

9. Generosity. People want to do something that makes a difference. Green work practices contribute to the environment. Community activities such as food drives and fundraising dinners show that your company cares for something besides the almighty dollar.

At the very least, you should be able to give your employees the same treatment you give your best customers.