Is Your Company Too Hard To Work For?}

Is Your Company Too Hard To Work For?


Dawn Brister

For the last couple of years almost everyone with a job has felt lucky to have it. The economy has absolutely forced companies to make cutbacks, hold off on investments and squeeze more productivity from their staff. Every small business owner I know feels personally responsible for the well-being of their employees, as if they were family. I’m betting you made sacrifices in your business to keep employees. And your employees likely responded with support. We all knew that times were tough and that’s the way it was. But it seems times may be changing.

There were several articles in the news recently about how for the first time in 15 months, more people are quitting their jobs than getting laid off. This not only shows confidence in the economy, but it’s an important indicator that people are not accepting the mantra of “I’m lucky to be employed” and starting to feel that their company needs to be an enjoyable place to work. If they don’t feel that way – they are willing to move on. And it’s always the “good” employees who have more choices. The employees you depend on to make your company work.I work for a giant company right now and have for several years. But that was not always the case. My first job was in public relations and I worked for a family-owned firm with about 60 employees. I remember walking into the building and thinking “man, how lucky am I to work here?!” The place was not only beautiful but we had the tools we needed.Here’s a funny story, on my first day as an account coordinator, there was a huge press tour getting underway for the company’s biggest client. One of the highly confidential documents (confidential and enormous – 100 pages) had an error. There were over 50 copies of this document that had to be shredded. As the lowliest member of the totem pole the task fell to me. It would have been very easy for the boss to let me undertake this task with the small shredders we had for everyday use (10 page capacity), but she didn’t. She first sent me to the office supply store with her credit card and instructions to buy the biggest shredder I could find. I knew I was in good hands; unfortunately I was too young to recognize exactly how good my fortune was and I eventually moved on to another agency.At that agency 40 PR people shared one fax machine, only one computer had Internet access and our computers were years outdated. The work I was doing was much more challenging, and I liked my team, but the lack of investment in the company made simple daily tasks an uphill battle. Activities such as looking to see if an article was published required waiting in line for my co-workers to finish their Internet tasks. Even though I was promoted and given a healthy raise, I quit as soon as I found a better job (which was only 9 months after hire).It’s never a good idea to have your systems get in the way of employees doing their work. Unreliable equipment, communications tools or processes breed frustration. You may not even realize the burden some manual tasks put on your employees. I recently met with John Kolbison, the owner of La Petite Baleen, a swim school in the California Bay Area. John had recently networked his three locations. Previously his staff had to physically travel between schools to complete certain tasks such as monthly reporting. Enrolling students in class took two days of staff time and running quarterly reports was a week-long process. Now that they are networked, his staff is happy and they are able to help more customers.During my visit with John he made it clear that he listened to his staff because keeping them happy kept his business thriving. Since networking his locations, John’s business had doubled in size.Have you asked your staff for input on the tools they need to make them more efficient?

Dawn Brister, Editorial Director of Cisco Innovators Forum, and her team of guest bloggers interviews experts, entrepreneurs and authors on how to run a small business better. To learn more about small business best practices and the technologies behind them, visit

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Is Your Company Too Hard To Work For?}