Bakers Journal

Features Business and Operations Staffing
How to boost staff loyalty – without buying it


April 10, 2013
By Jeff Mowatt

Topics

April 11, 2013 – Employee recognition is relatively cheap, yet it has a tremendously
high payoff in terms of morale, reduction in staff turnover, and most
importantly customer satisfaction. Jeff Mowatt offers strategies to implement in your business.

April 11, 2013 – If you think you have staffing shortages, you ain't seen
nothing! Come to my town, Calgary, Alberta and we'll talk. The economy
of this boom town is so overheated that managers and business owners are
scrambling to hang-on to even mediocre employees. Far too many
managers figure the only way to gain staff loyalty is to buy it. That's a
myth – and it's an excuse that you shouldn't accept of yourself or
other managers. Of course money is important – but there is another
way to gain employee loyalty that doesn't cost a thing.

I'm referring to employee recognition. Just how important is this
to employees? According to the landmark studies in employee motivation
spearheaded by Dr. Kenneth Kovach at George Mason University, the second
biggest motivator for employees is recognition. Number one
is interesting work – which requires an investment in staff training.
Since I want to focus on zero cost ways to increase staff retention,
let's talk about recognition. The question you need to ask yourself is,
"Do you recognize the performance of your employees as much as you know
you should?" For most managers and business owner the answer is a cold,
hard no. I think the simple explanation is managers get so busy
they tend to forget to express appreciation to the people who deserve
it. Although, this is generally an oversight, it is an expensive
oversight.

Employee recognition is relatively cheap, yet it has a tremendously
high payoff in terms of morale, reduction in staff turnover, and most
importantly customer satisfaction. I believe part of the problem
is that when you work with employees for a long time, it's hard to find
creative ways to recognize them. Plus, mangers tend to view employee
recognition as being a scattering of random events rather than an
ongoing process. Fortunately, there is a systematic on-going process
for recognizing your employees that goes far beyond an isolated slap on
the back.

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Recognition in CAST Meetings
I'm referring to recognition that happens in a CAST meeting. CAST
stands for Customer Service Team meeting. CAST is a monthly, 90 minute
in-house forum where managers and front line employees discuss how to
enhance the customer experience. Of five elements that are covered in a
CAST Meeting, one of the most motivating is the agenda item I call service legends.
At this point in the meeting, managers point out specific incidents
where certain employees have provided exceptional service. The employee
is asked by the manager to share the details of the incident with
everyone and why they did what they did. Then the whole group joins in a
round of applause for the person.

When you see employees literally cheering each other on for
providing exceptional service, you know that the customer-focused
culture is growing roots. That was certainly the case with one of our
clients, a government-run vehicle-registration department . . .

During the Service Legends portion of a CAST meeting, a
manager asked Richard, a vehicle-registration clerk, to share with the
group what happened when a customer phoned and asked for a refund
cheque. Richard explained to the group the dire circumstances that the
person was in. He realized that 'standard practice' was to mail the
cheque and the customer would receive it in a couple of weeks. However,
it didn't sit well with him, so he drove the check over himself that
same day. He introduced himself and said that he figured she could use
the refund right away. "You could see that tears were welling in her
eyes as she thanked me. I was really glad I did it." At that point in
the CAST Meeting the group erupted in heartfelt applause for Richard.
Richard's co-workers and supervisors were doing more than expressing
their support for what he had done; they were also demonstrating their
pride in the way people in their department respond to the individual
needs of customers. That story, and the fact that the manager brought
it to everyone's attention, provided a lot of lessons about customer
service that no policy will ever be able to convey.

That's recognition based not on seniority, but service.
And the approval doesn't just come from the employees' supervisors, but
from their peers. Most importantly the stories that emerge become your
own in-house parables that serve as wonderful learning examples for
everyone. In other words, the CAST meeting's service legends piece
transforms recognition into part of your ongoing education process that
people learn from.

We all want to do well – and be recognized for doing so. Of course
people need to be paid market value for their services. But hard cash
is cold. You'll warm the hearts and the loyalty of your team members
when you take the time – and have a process – to recognize actions that
merit talking about. It doesn't cost a thing and in this marketplace –
and with the impending staffing shortages that all the experts are
forecasting – it just may make you the employer of choice.


Customer service strategist and professional speaker, Jeff Mowatt is an authority on The Art of Client Service .  .  .  Influence with Ease®.  For Jeff's other tips, self-study resources, and training services on this topic, click Improving the Sales and Service Culture.