Do you remember your first job? Think back to the first day you stepped into your beginning role - the excitement, the opportunities, the sheer giddiness of doing something new for the very first time. Finding your time card, punching in and getting that tingle all up your arms. You were about to embark on a brand-new journey, and you'd get paid for it, too!
Do you remember the day that excitement went away? Most of us can't pinpoint the moment clocking in and out was no longer fun, but it happens to everyone eventually. Maybe it was gradual for you, or maybe it was too traumatic to recall clearly. Whatever the case, clocking in and out of work lost its luster, its shine, and its excitement. It happened to you, and now that you're a manager or owner-operator, it's happening to your employees, too.
Don't just sit there and let the excitement fade away. You can stop the doldrums and bring back the thrill of clocking in and out every day by making some small changes that reap big rewards. We've compiled a list of things you can do to keep the excitement alive or to breathe life back into a bored and disappointed staff.
1. Open the Lines of CommunicationThe first step in bringing excitement and fun back into clocking in and out is to open the lines of communication between management and staff. It's no surprise that employees often view management as untouchable, unreasonable, and unreachable. That's a lot of "uns," but you can fix this! Yes, labor management is tough - there's a lot of paperwork, logs, reports, and financial work to be done, but your employees need to feel like you are on their team.
Instead of spending all your time closed behind your office door, spend time each day on the floor talking to your staff and getting to know them. If joking around is your thing, start each day (or every few days) with a silly joke; either posted in the break room, mentioned at the staff meeting, or posted on a digital communication board everyone has access to. At the same time, invite others to share work-appropriate jokes, stories, and anecdotes—more on that in another tip.
Also, be sure you give employees a way to contact you privately. This can be through meetings, written notes, or an app that allows real-time communication. The most important factor is showing your employees you're human too, and you're always willing to listen.
2. Start a Community StoryGet a blank notebook, some markers and pens, stickers, tape, and other fun stuff and place it in the break room. Let your employees write positive messages to the group, share light-hearted stories and jokes, or draw pictures. This is the living history of your business, so be sure you add your personal touches, too. As with the first tip, providing a way for employees to connect, and joining in yourself, opens lines of communication, breaking down the walls of "us vs. them", and helps everyone feel involved.
3. Make Clocking In and Out a GameWe don't mean that clocking in and out should be taken lightly; it's still an important part of labor management making sure everyone is tracking time accurately. But there are ways to make the clocking in and out process more fun. Aside from earning a paycheck, perhaps your employees can earn points toward a staff picnic or BBQ for every person clocking in and out on time. If you want to impress your staff, get a mobile time card solution that gamifies clocking in and out, such as Hubworks’ Zip Clock.
4. Never Force ParticipationOther than clocking in and out on time and doing their jobs safely, you shouldn't make participation in extra activities mandatory. Not everyone wants to be a part of the community story, nor do they want to be involved in staff parties or outings. That's okay! By not forcing participation in non-job-related things, you're showing your employees they matter, that their wants and needs are important to you and that you understand. There is nothing worse than standing around a mandatory company party, pretending to have fun, while quietly seething inside. Don't be "that" boss who forces the fun.
5. Notice Important MilestonesDid your employees do well on a particularly stressful shift? Make sure they know you saw it. Whether that's a verbal announcement to the crew, a note posted where everyone is clocking in or clocking out, or something posted on the mobile community board, letting your staff know you appreciate them will go a long way in improving employee morale. You can take this a step further and acknowledge work anniversaries or birthdays, too. A word of warning on birthday celebrations- Some religions forbid this kind of thing, so be sure you won't be offending an employee by throwing a surprise party.
All of the suggestions here are meant to open your mind to the idea of making work fun again. Think of ways that are comfortable to you, in line with your company's philosophies and vibe, and can still add some fun back into clocking in or clocking out every day for your employees. Games, movie nights, free snacks in the break room, rewards for great attendance, the community board or living history are all ways to bring some joy and excitement to work, build a sense of community, and improve communication between employees and management.
That said, we know that work can't always be fun and games, so we have many awesome articles on ways to improve productivity, help managers do their jobs more efficiently, and ways to be sure your business stays in compliance with labor laws and safety regulations. Check out these top tips for cutting labor costs or, while you’re here, try Hubworks’ Zip Clock free for 14 days!