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Managing Laundry Stress, Avoiding Burnout (Conclusion)

“With the labor challenges all businesses are facing, my employees are working harder than ever. How can I help them manage stress and avoid burnout?”

Commercial Laundry: Lee Baldauf, Superior Linen Service, Tacoma, Wash.

Lee Baldauf

Lee Baldauf

You don’t have to talk to many laundries, whether they are in a group you share or a competitor, to find out that most of us are struggling with labor.

Somehow, even after the “gimmes” of COVID are done, many people have chosen to stay out of the workforce. Hard to offer remote work to production and maintenance personnel, and now it has become nearly a bidding war for capable bodies.

Now we must practice, as well as we can, retention. This entails much more than money alone, even if you have people skipping for an Amazon promise of a better wage and life balance. The people that jump ship for a buck, and a buck alone, are not the people that would be with you for a generation.

The people that we work with/for/under all need to feel a level of respect and appreciation.

My boss should know I respect his risk and wisdom, and he has always made me feel like my input is valued.

The people I manage in maintenance could job shop—perhaps they are. The best I can do is hope they remember getting full weeks during the pandemic and let them know that I appreciate their tenure, effort and ethics.

I truly believe this goes a long way in contributing to retention, as replacement is always such a painful process.

We have a coffee stand across the street from our facility. I will occasionally buy a guy a drink, or sometimes the crew gets treated.

It gives you a few minutes, on the clock, of course, to talk about other things. How is your family? You seeing any bucks where you are hunting? Your car is looking good … you wax it?

All trivial stuff, but you might find out you enjoy their answers, and it feels good to see coworkers light up about something.

We all, or most of us, really wish for happiness and success for our peers. It is easy to be prideful of their accomplishments.

Enter overtime. So ugly, in so many ways. It chokes the bottom line. It can create a fatigued worker, potentially leading to safety concerns and burnout.

This is, I think, the toughest issue in our industry right now. So many plants are approaching pre-pandemic poundage and piece counts with less staff … less experienced staff … less reliable staff.

We try the donuts and always ask for volunteers for overtime. So far, it seems to pay dividends, but we still must recognize that we need to make sure the same people that say yes, every time, are also encouraged to take that weekend for themselves, and their families.

Automation is obviously the best answer to labor, but it is expensive and slow for many of us.

If we show our loyal partners a commitment to making the process easier, they will appreciate that, and it is also viewed in a positive manner. People worry less about “being replaced by machines.”

Maybe this is the best piece of the pain some of us experience now. We can all be excited about streamlining the process.

Chemicals Supply: John Schafer, Diversey, Fort Mill, S.C.

John Schafer

John Schafer

I would say the key factor here is that their manager or supervisor addresses issues that the employees have.

Employees need to know that their manager will support them, fight for them and have their best interests in mind.

Make sure your managers value their employees. This is a key factor in keeping your employees and having them avoid stress and burnout.

Talk with your employees; find out how you can help them.

Could it be periodic breaks throughout the day? Could it be more flexible work schedules? Could it be rotating job duties and responsibilities?

Maybe they have ideas to improve the workflow. Maybe they have ideas to improve efficiency and make their jobs less stressful.

Praise them for their work. Perhaps create a “who did a good job today” board where you can post things your employees have done that were good for your business and your customers.

Praise can go a long way in making employees feel valued for their work.

Click HERE to read Part 1 with thoughts from healthcare laundry, consulting services and hotel/motel/resort laundry experts.

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