Are your employees happy? Or are they at least content? Because if the folks you are paying are unhappy, you can be certain many more people than you realize have been told about the unhappiness.

This thought really resonated with me recently after my wife and I hired a company for a kitchen remodel. As an educated consumer, I did my homework via Google and had five well-reviewed companies come out and bid on the project. After covering HVAC for 10 years, I have been broken of the habit of going with the low bidder. We went with a company charging a price on the high side because they promised the items we were looking for — professionalism, attention to detail, and help advising us on the 1,000 choices a kitchen remodel entails.

The project went fine. Sure, it took longer than quoted but that has been my genuine experience with these things. And, at the end of the day, we have a kitchen that makes us happy.

What I was not expecting was the constant complaining by our crew about the job, company, and boss. I heard how the company began not paying the guys for lunch with no communication about the change in policy. I heard how they were making a guy work instead of allowing him to go with his wife to what I assume was a serious doctor appointment. Keep in mind, I was not overhearing these conversations; they were talking directly to me about their issues.

Suddenly, my perception of this company changed. I recognize I was only hearing one side of the argument, but I had a much deeper connection to the workers than I did the owner. The workers were in my house every day for more than a month, and we discussed kids, Tigers baseball, and local happenings.

Now, I understand whenever three employees gather, there will probably be some complaints about the boss — except for my employees, of course. But, to hear it every day and to witness the frustration and anger — well, it seemed to be much more than the normal complaining. And if they were telling me, I imagine they are telling family, friends, acquaintances, and probably social media.

Communicating With Employees

What are your employees talking about when they are out in the field? Are they complaining about the way you do business, or are they singing the praises of a company that is a close-knit team?

The sad part is, most of these issues sounded like they could have been resolved with some top-down communication. Outside of the supposed missed doctor visit, there was nothing raised by the workers that seemed to be a crazy request or decision by the boss. It was simply an accumulation of items breaking against the worker that I can only assume were not properly communicated by management.

Do you have consistent staff meetings where employees are filled in on how the company is doing? You should. Sometimes emails just do not get the job done because either they do not include all the pertinent information, or the recipient does not read all the pertinent information.

Are you taking attitude into consideration when hiring? You should be. If you hire an employee who is never happy, it does not take long for him to be in the ear of other employees.

No billboards, Little League sponsorships, or catchy jingles can combat disgruntled employees from speaking poorly about the organization. The worst part is, you will never know they are doing it. Treat your employees right and they will be the best messengers for your business.

Publication date: 7/21/2014

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