Woohoo! Its 2009! I am genuinely excited about the opportunity for businesses in the UK this year. Economically times have been hard and they may get harder, but now is the time to up your game. The companies who take this chance to excel will come out the other side of this recession head and shoulders above the competition. With that in mind, here are 10 great ideas to create energy and engagement in your place of work in 2009. In the spirit of the times, every suggestion is cheap to implement - or free!
1. Look after your Receptionist - the first person your employees see every morning. If he/she is smiling, interested and happy (not bored, ignored and glum), there's a much better chance that your other staff will start their day in the right frame of mind.
2. Environment. The surroundings that people work in have a huge effect on how they feel and behave. Take a look around with fresh eyes and see if there's anything you'd like to improve. Involve your staff and get their creative input before you make a change - it doesn't need to cost a fortune, the simplest things can make a difference.
3. CSR. Do you have a "Green" policy? Research shows that employees who feel positive about their company's CSR activity are far more likely to be engaged than those who do not. Start small and ask for input from your staff.
4. Fresh fruit. If you can afford to do it, providing your staff with a big bowl of fresh fruit once a week is a lovely idea and always appreciated.
5. Get people talking. It doesn't matter what people are talking about, it's relationship building that's important. Lead by example and get to know someone that you've previously had no relationship with. (Take this one slowly, or you'll freak people out!).
6. Social media - do you have a blog? If not, find out which of your employees do and ask them to help you make it a reality for your company. Nominate an editor and let it be known that anyone can contribute. Your blog is not the right channel for important announcements, but you can use it for the 'interesting stuff', design ideas, fun, events - anything that has relevance to your team.
7. Put vases of fresh flowers around the office sometimes, to make people smile. Once a month is enough and daffodils, gerberas and carnations are all cheap as chips.
8. Pay attention to birthdays. Forget a free holiday on your birthday - it'll be taken for granted and then resented if things get busy and the day can't be used. Instead make sure birthday at work is a great day. Experiential change agency Involve nominate a different 'birthday fairy' for each person, and brief them to make it special. The fuss making is public and puts smiles on everyone's faces. (This one's harder for big companies so if you're small, work your advantage!)
9. While around the office, ask people how their day is going. Stand still, focus your attention on them and listen to the answer. You'll be surprised how much more your employees start to open up to you, and how much more in touch with your own business you become.
10. Don't delay, get started. Think of one small, inexpensive thing that would be nice to do for your staff, and just do it. You'll be glad you did.