For many of us, the pandemic put into perspective what a healthy workplace can look like. Many owners have reevaluated their business practices so that their employees feel valued and respected. Quality ownership means appreciating your staff for more than their labor; it means caring for them as people. Here are some great ways to treat your employees with care.
Lead by Example
Employees respect someone willing and able to approach them on their level. Demonstrate a strong work ethic and lead by example rather than just supervising.
Show that you’re willing to get your hands dirty. You might run a restaurant, for instance. If it’s busy, help bus tables or restock the bar. Be genuine and kind, and when you make mistakes, take responsibility and apologize.
Treat Them With Respect
Never undercut an employee just to save face with a client. It will affect your relationship with that employee and the entire staff. Instead, apologize and take the blame yourself—even if it isn’t your fault. As the owner, it’s your responsibility to accept blame and give praise.
Encouraging staff who helped with a successful shift, rather than patting yourself on the back, will raise morale. Minimize criticism, and staff will be more receptive to change when it’s necessary. Above all, be kind and treat everyone with the respect they deserve.
Be Genuinely Inclusive
Many businesses are using diversity as a buzzword nowadays, but few are actually delivering. Making a storefront accessible to those with disabilities and hiring staff members of various backgrounds are great steps, but they only scratch the surface.
You should create an environment where employees belonging to minority groups feel comfortable and safe. Make it clear that you don’t tolerate discrimination of any sort in your workplace. Enforce these rules, even if the discrimination comes as a joke. Microaggressions, even ones that come from ignorance, negatively impact employees’ mental health and happiness.
Ask for your employees’ names and preferred pronouns and verify that managers and other staff members use them. Be sure that you make every effort to pronounce names correctly. A name is an identifier of self, and every person deserves to have their correct name spoken in the workplace.
Prioritize Their Mental Health
Long workdays can be taxing, especially for those with disabilities. Understand that disabled staff members may need to call out sick at times to protect their health. Remember: some disabilities are invisible.
Learn the warning signs of burnout and depression and prevent these things as best you can. From hiring more staff to using a POS system to prevent burnout, there are various preventative measures you can take.
Finally, ask your staff what employees need from you. Quality ownership means understanding that you don’t have all the answers. To treat your employees with care, you sometimes need to ask them for help first.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist who appears weekly in the Los Angeles Wave newspaper and can be reached at email@example.com.