How employers should treat employees

Published: Sunday, May 19, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 3:11 p.m.

I've received some interesting reader feedback on my recent “professionalism” series, specifically, the column outlining what constitutes a good work ethic.

Although the series was directed to new graduates entering the workforce, it was applicable to anyone. Well, I heard from some seasoned workers who pushed back saying that advice to employees for developing a good work ethic won't do much good if the employer doesn't provide a similar attitude toward workers.

“A good work ethic should apply to both.” And I agree.

In fact, over the years I've written about many of these best practices for employers. But sometimes hearing directly from employees about communication, appreciation, engagement, feedback, career advancement and rewards can make the message much more powerful. Here it is, unfiltered.

Employers should:

* Actually listen to what their employees have to say since they are the ones on the ground making things happen.

* See employees as people and not as a bottom line or number.

* Actually make eye contact.

* Have functions outside work to create teamwork.

* Employers need to communicate with employees and not just send out emails after the decision is made.

* Employers should learn about diversity, communicating effectively, decision making with empathy.

* Employers should not be so quick to dismiss, judge or hold back from advancing their employees.

* When employers ask for employee feedback, they should accept criticism to become a better leader.

* Employers should not reward hard workers with more and more work.

* Employers shouldn't re-classify hard workers from hourly to salaried just to work them longer and not pay overtime.

That last one is unfair, demoralizing and unlawful.

So what's an employer to do? Customarily, the first impulse is to think, “My employees would not say that about our workplace.” But how do you know for sure?

I suggest doing an informal satisfaction survey of your employees. Ask three questions: What's working? What's not working? What would you change?

Make responses anonymous. Then you'll know.

Lastly, I'll close with this reader quote:

“Without employees, where would employers be? Both have to work together to make the company successful.”

Readers, thank you for your feedback.

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