Happy employees are often more productive employees, so promoting fun and positivity in the workplace is a good idea if you’re in management. Small businesses and social-media-heavy businesses, more than larger corporations,are in danger of letting their businesses get too casual, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. Some employees have made offensive, inappropriate or otherwise unprofessional comments online and in front of clients, which lead to a negative light cast on the business. One of the skills mangers learn while earning an online masters degree in management is how to encourage employees to balance fun with professionalism in the workplace.
Outline Employee Behavior
What may be common sense to one person isn’t necessarily common sense to another, especially if you have a casual work environment and employees who are used to sharing their thoughts and news online with friends and family. An effective manager will clearly outline expected behavior for employees both in the employee handbook—so everyone can check on it regularly—and at an employee’s orientation, so he or she can start the job on the right foot.
Having the behavior clearly written down will also help the company withstand any pressure if an employee gets too casual and there’s a backlash. You can point the employee to the handbook and let the client or customer know that the behavior was a single instance of an employee breaking rules that are against company policy.
Check in With Supervisors Regularly
Whether you work at a small business or a giant corporation, checking in with employees regularly is a must to make sure that no employee is acting too casual. If in charge of a small staff, you should be the one to meet with every employee once a week in a meeting, breaking the people up into groups by department if there are too many employees for you to meet one-on-one. If managing a large staff, appoint a supervisor for each department and ask them to meet weekly with their employees, and then ask that all of the supervisors meet with you once a week to report their findings.
Use these weekly meetings as opportunities to review the company policy on items such as what you expect employees to do when it comes to their and the company’s social media presence.
Lead by Example
It’s tempting to make friends with everyone at work. After all, a manager who’s not friendly gets a bit of a negative reputation. However, you can be friendly without crossing the line between what’s appropriate and inappropriate for work relationships. If you set the example yourself, employees will have a better idea of what’s appropriate behavior at work.
Try to do the following as manager:
- Remain friendly and approachable, letting employees know they can come to you with any work issue.
- Refrain from sharing too much information about your personal life at work with other employees or online.
- Don’t spend more than a minute or two on any small talk. Gently encourage any employees engaging in chit chat to focus on their tasks by asking that they keep personal talk to a minimum.
- Only take personal calls at work on your breaks or in emergency circumstances.
Establish an HR Department
While not always an option in small businesses, you should consider adding a human resources staff to your company if you haven’t already. If you already have an HR department, work with them closely to coordinate your efforts to promote acceptable employee behavior. Responsible employee software can be anything from dressing appropriately to clocking time correctly in the company’s cloud HR software.
Knowing you have staff entirely devoted to making sure your employees get all of their issues addressed and know where they can ask questions about acceptable behavior can be a great relief to a manager. The department can also prove indispensable if an employee gets too casual and you need to know how to proceed. If you can’t afford staff of your own, consider outsourcing your HR tasks.
To ensure your company properly balances fun with professionalism,outline expected employee behavior clearly in the employee handbook and during orientation, touch base with supervisors regularly, set an example yourself and stay friendly but professional, and establish an HR department to oversee these kinds of issues if possible. Eliminating fun entirely shouldn’t even be an option, if you hope to keep happy, productive employees on staff. Just remind everyone that “fun” doesn’t equal a free-for-all.
About the Author:Elena Otero is a contributing writer and manager for a successful small business in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She recommends that businesses have an active social media presence, but that they’re careful not to offend potential customers online.