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Fostering Involvement, Engagement in New Team Members (Conclusion)

“Recently, a new hire said they felt they weren’t being taken seriously. How can I reassure this person and help them grow in the industry?”

Hotel/Motel/Resort Laundry: Rodrigo Patron, Lace House Linen, Petaluma, Calif.

Rodrigo Patron
Rodrigo Patron

Having employees express their desire to be taken seriously is a positive sign for any organization. It demonstrates their genuine interest and commitment to the company. 

However, it can be challenging to understand what exactly they mean when they say they want to be “taken seriously.” 

In my experience, the meaning behind the phrase can vary greatly from person to person. It could imply the need for more responsibilities, recognition or even a desire to be heard. 

Regardless of what employees mean by wanting to be taken seriously, it is an excellent problem to have. It provides an opportunity for the organization to foster employee involvement and engagement. 

Employees who feel involved are more likely to go above and beyond their job responsibilities, feel more connected to the organization and are more likely to stay with the company. This is especially important in the current job market where retaining top talent is essential. 

In our industry, being part of something bigger may mean different things to different employees. It could be as simple as having a uniform they feel comfortable in or as complex as being given more responsibilities or being promoted. 

The more involved employees are, the more opportunities they will have to grow and the quicker the growth will occur. 

It is vital for organizations to recognize the value of employee involvement and offer opportunities for employees to have a voice in the decision-making process. 

When employees feel that their voice is being heard, it can have a significant impact on their motivation and job satisfaction. They are more likely to be engaged and committed to their work, which has a positive impact on the overall health of the organization. 

Being taken seriously plays a vital role in both factors, ultimately benefiting the employees and the organization as a whole.

Textile/Uniform Rental: W. Kirby Wagg, Performance Matters, Sarasota, Fla.

W. Kirby Wagg
W. Kirby Wagg

New hires are an opportunity! They allow a company to revisit employment engagement standards. 

The textile rental industry has a wide variety of team members: plant laborers, route representatives, sales representatives, service and office staff, management and chief operating officers, among others. 

Our companies must be cognizant of the fact that our policy of employee engagement is diverse and taken seriously by all team members. 

According to Deloitte, we spend $1.53 billion per year to fix employee engagement. The time to act is the first day of a new hire’s engagement!

If a new hire is not taken seriously, it shows a lack of trust. They do not trust the company or their supervisor. Employees, what they want most, more than more pay, more than time off, more than working from home, is a boss they can trust.

I began my journey over 45 years ago as a plant worker (Wagg’s Linen & Uniform in north Toronto) and have worked in every possible job position in this industry to learn the business. 

I was not taken seriously at first by my supervisors. I had many ideas that were ignored or disregarded with comments such as, “We tried that many years ago, and it doesn’t work.” 

At times it was frustrating. It wasn’t until I was in a management position that I gained trust, trust in the company and trust in my team members, and I learned we must listen and that we must make our employees’ workdays—each one of them—as good as we can. 

Later in my career, I made it a point to look everyone in the eye as they left to go home and thank them for their efforts. Quite a simple, yet powerful statement—it gained trust!

How do you build trust? As I said, make their day better, not worse. Nearly all day-to-day good or bad things are within the manager’s control. 

Get to know your team, find out what makes them happy, what bothers them. If you listen, write down their ideas to show you are listening, ask knowledgeable questions, offer insightful suggestions, trust will be gained.

Some questions to ask include “What’s the single most important thing I can do to make it better?” “Can I count on you to come to me directly if you feel that way again?” “What are you learning?” “What would you like to do?”

All basic questions and simple to ask.

Gallup tells us that a full 50% of employees who seek other jobs do so because of their managers! The only thing they can’t easily replace at another work location is their leader or, let’s say, first-line supervisor. 

When employees seek support regarding recognition, development, scheduling, stress, pay, they can’t work with someone or any other daily employee needs, their supervisor is their go-to source. 

The “boss” must be seen as being trustworthy by their team.

Reassuring new hires and assisting them to grow in our formidable industry is paramount to our companies. Make it a priority for you, your supervisors, everyone in the company, to engage new hires from the very first interview. 

If you (and the company) are seen as trustworthy from the outset of someone’s employment, they will contribute ten-fold of what they are being paid. 

At the end of the day, taking all employees seriously is simply good business!

Uniforms/Workwear Manufacturing: Scott Delin, Fashion Seal Healthcare, Seminole, Fla.

Scott Delin
Scott Delin

Last fall while sitting out on our deck in our backyard, my lovely bride of 38 years boldly brought to my attention the wear and tear our deck has taken over the years and proclaimed, “It is time for a long overdue deck makeover.”  

She hated the deck and told me to make the call and get someone in here to redesign a new fresh look for our deck. We could not put it off any longer. 

Therefore, to design a fresh look, we arranged to bring in a contractor and discuss our dream deck, complete with an extended bump out for our grill and a place for our firewood for the fireplace. We also wanted to have an octagon extension for outdoor dining. 

Being a diligent husband who listens to everything my wife tells me, I made the call and arranged a meeting. We went over our ideas and plans with our contractor, and he then prepared renderings of our dream deck and presented them to us for approval.  

Once approved, demolition and new construction were underway.  

As our son was looking at the final approved plans, he told us our octagon was too small and we would not like it. Being a typical parent and not taking his comments and feedback seriously, I told him he did not know what he was talking about and not to worry about it as the original design would be just fine.  

He then immediately shot back at me and suggested I ask the contractor to build a larger template and place it against the original design in the yard for us to see what a larger octagon would look like and how it would enhance our new deck.  

Again, being the fantastic father that I am, I agreed to his suggestion, as I wanted him to feel his input meant something. 

This situation made me think about work and how much better we as laundry operators would be if we would just listen more to our employees as they are on the front lines of production day in and day out.  

We need to let our new hires and exiting staff know and feel comfortable that if they have suggestions on how to increase productivity and improve quality, and even save dollars, we as owner-operators are willing to listen.  

While not all their suggestions may be doable or realistic, we are willing to take them seriously and listen. You never know, as it takes just one or two ideas to change the work environment around us.    

Several ways we can assure our employees new and old we take them seriously is to form committees within the workspace and have them serve as members of different committees. Such committees could be:

  • Safety.
  • Quality control.
  • Productivity.
  • Employee appreciation.

By getting our employees involved and meeting every week, we empower our staff to feel that they are not just everyday employees coming to work but their involvement is really making a difference in the work culture that surrounds them daily and also affecting the success of our businesses. 

Another way to make our staff feel as though their suggestions make a difference is to award, monthly, a gift certificate of some kind or a prize/award to the team or employee that has any of their ideas put into place.  

We all know how hard it is to get and keep a strong workforce. Doing little things to recognize input from our staff makes for a stronger more powerful team and maintains employee retention.  

It also shows the rest of the staff that we as owner/operator listen to what they have to say and no idea is silly or stupid.  

We need to show them that we take all ideas as great ideas. 

When they cannot be into action or implemented, we need to take time and explain why the ideas may or may not work at this time. Is it how our plants are laid out/designed? Is it we are just not equipped to do so at this time?  

Maybe down the road in the future we can use their ideas. One never knows. 

By listening, explaining and, most of all, rewarding our employees, we assure them that there is a place for growth within our organizations.  

We also may want to send some employees to offsite seminars or give them the opportunity to attend classes to further their education. The stronger they are mentally, the better it is for our survival and success in today’s challenging market.  

As for my son, well, he was right in suggesting the larger design as it was definitely the way to go. We are so happy we listened to him.  

His reward was to christen the new deck with his father by enjoying the first of many cigars and glasses of aged scotch around the fire pit.  

What we thought was silly actually worked out to our advantage. Thanks for the suggestion, Ben!

Miss Part 1 with insights from healthcare laundry, equipment/supply distribution and consulting services experts? Click HERE to read it!

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].