When you were employed for someone else, were the employees able to participate in potlucks, company lunches, or recognition ceremonies? Employees remember these things. Non-work-related activities increase motivation and job performance. These activities also build rapport between employees by allowing them a chance to mingle and socialize. Try some of these ideas for out-of-office get-togethers and watch relationships grow and good morale emerge:
" Volunteer in your community. Help needy families, spend a day picking up litter, or clean up streams and parks near your office. Not only does this foster employee relations, but your business will be helping the very community you serve.
" Holiday, birthday, and tenure anniversary parties are great ideas. Consider baby showers and bachelor or bachelorette parties as well.
" Close a few hours early on a Friday and foot the bill for a fun night on the town. Allow the employees to brainstorm and agree on the location.
" Head outdoors. Remaining within your budget, you can take employees whitewater rafting, boating at a nearby lake, or hiking, biking, or rollerblading at nearby parks.
" Sporting events. There are often inexpensive tickets available to baseball, hockey, football, and basketball games. Group discounts are often offered.
" Cookouts. Pick a different employee's house, starting with your own, and make this a monthly ritual. This is a great way to meet each other's families as well.
Don't forget to create a rapport between yourself (the boss) and the people who work hard for you. Here are some ideas to show the employees you care about their job satisfaction and appreciate them as individuals:
" Ask for feedback. Conduct opinion surveys and actually use the input you receive.
" Don't show favoritism. Whatever you do for one employee, do for another.
" Provide training. Make room in the budget for this; skill building helps your employees perform better and your company will have a greater chance of success.
" Empathize. Your employees have families and lives outside of the office. Life happens and things come up. Be sure to be sensitive to your employees' plights and accommodate accordingly. A healthy work/life balance is imperative to employee production.
" Communicate with employees directly. Too many bosses sit behind their desks and seem as approachable as a raging fire. Take time to visit occasionally with employees. Participate in their events. Have informal monthly meetings to discuss any issues and brainstorm ideas for better productivity.