The scene is a common one these days. Lines of people waiting to pay in a restaurant, retail establishment, or grocery store. Tempers flare. Customers yell at staff and wonder why there’s only one person checking people out. Your staff thinks, “Who needs this?” and they’re not wrong. They feel overworked and underappreciated. Customers are demanding and loud. Customers vow not to return. It makes for a bad situation for everyone.
So what can you do to ensure it doesn’t happen in your business?
Dealing with angry people during a staffing shortage is not easy, especially since one problem creates the other. People are angry because they have to wait. People have to wait because you are short staffed. No one wants to work in an environment filled with angry people.
Here are some things you can do to diffuse the situation.
Put People Where They’re NeededAs a manager or owner, when you are short-staffed you will always be assessing what needs to be done and who is around to do it. Make sure you have people in the most critical customer-facing spots and pull them from other areas as needed, even if only for a few minutes.
Ensure your employees feel empowered to help one another with overflow. If they are on rack duty, for instance, in your retail establishment make sure they know you appreciate them helping out at the cash register when a line forms. This means you will need to take the time to cross-train everyone and make sure they are comfortable working in all areas of the store/business where appropriate.
Stress That Everyone’s a ManagerOften when people are disgruntled, they will demand to see a manager. While there are some decisions that only a manager can make, help your employees feel confident enough to take the reins in these situations and insist that they are decision makers. They can reiterate that the manager issued the protocols they are following.
When they call you every time a manager is needed, the customer quickly learns the person they are dealing with is a low person on the staff chart and no longer feels the need to listen to them. You are also rewarding bad behavior done against your staff.
Achieving this level of confidence in your employees means you have trained them to make decisions and they know what freedoms they have to assist your customers. Help them understand what rules may be broken or stretched and which ones are absolutes.
Explain the SituationWhile you never want to apologize for something that hasn’t happened yet, it is a good idea to remind everyone that you are doing your best. In fact, you may even want to add a “be kind message” to your help wanted posters. Explain that if they want things to be processed quicker, you would love additional help. Using a little humor can go a long way to diffuse difficult situations.
Play Good MusicIf you have the right staff and it fits your business, try playing some good tunes; the type of music that gets people moving. Encourage your staff to sing or invite others to burst out into song or dance. This may sound goofy but it’s hard to be in a bad mood when the song “Walking on Sunshine” comes on the radio.
Speaking of sounds…
Soothe Them with VoiceThe human voice can affect mood. A whiny voice can put customers on edge while a loud voice can make them feel more combative. With a confident, soothing voice you can make people feel understood and less prone to anger.
This hiring crisis is a challenging time for managers, staff, and owners. Just when everyone wants to get out and enjoy life again, their favorite businesses are struggling to hire. Some have had to shut down because they don’t have enough employees to operate. These tips will help you calm tempers until things can return to normal employment.
Your email content can be the best ever but if people don’t open your emails, the emails might as well be blank.
Two things make recipients click: who it’s from and how appealing the subject line is. In that order. That’s one reason I advise businesses to send their emails from a person (or at least an email that resembles one), not “no-reply@biz.
But how do you make your subject lines more irresistible? How do you inspire clicks and drive them to open your emails? Try these types of emails.
6 Types of the Most Clickable Emails
Think of your own inbox and how many emails you receive during the day. Most of us are on fast delete or swipe when we’re clearing out emails. You need to grab the recipient’s attention quickly. Here’s how:
Solve a Problem
What does your product or service help people do? Or what is this email designed to do for them? What value do they get from opening and reading it? Be specific and brief.
Example: Get more sleep with Comfy Blanket or
Say good-bye to restless nights with this easy solution
Or solve a problem they haven’t considered yet.
Example: Get mom’s gift yet? Mother’s Day is next Sunday.
Add the Color
While simple vocabulary is important in a subject line, that doesn’t mean you give up painting a tantalizing picture. Use evocative imagery and appeal to their senses. Don’t hesitate throwing in an emoji or two (unless your subject or business is incredibly serious).
Example: Warm cinnamon apple pie is calling 🥧
We’re naturally curious and when you factor in the fear of missing out, it can be a powerful motivator of clicks. If you’ve had a recent event or launch, you can use that to your advantage.
Example: Be the first to see our new spring line
See what our opening day participants did
Explain the Send
If your audience is similar to most people, they often sign up for things and forget them. In their defense, a lot of businesses sell contact info and then the new businesses claim you signed up for the list. While that may be true, the list you signed up for initially was not their list.
To differentiate yourself from these businesses, be specific when the information was (actually) requested by the recipient.
Example: Your requested newsletter from <business> or
The <download> you requested from <business>
People want to know why they should click. Tell them. If there’s a deadline, communicate that too.
Example: Today’s top deals under $100 or
Unlock access to free delivery or
How to get a FREE <product or service>
Give Them Something They Dream About
Everyone wants something but they may not feel like they can or should. They may view your product or service as a splurge or something they need to put off. Give them a reason to feel otherwise.
Example: Treat yourself to a luscious cake or
Reward your hard work with a new look
Cover the COVID grays with our newest treatment
Finally, keep subject lines under 41 characters (not words) as often as possible and consider how they will look on a phone. Figure out what words will be cut off. Sometimes the cut can make your message more evocative and interesting. Other times, it can look sordid or mean something you didn’t intend. Keep the message short and get right to the benefit. After all, that’s what people are most interested in.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, engagement is critical to your business. Now more than ever. It’s so important that I wish I could create a new name for it so people would pay more attention. Being told you need to engage your audience is not new, but the pandemic has created a bunch of new reasons why it’s incredibly important, especially with employees. If you don’t have the time, you need to make it or hire someone who does.
Engagement Is Important Because…
Your Employees Are Hanging on by a Thread
A few things are going on in the employment sector these days. In most areas, there are more open positions than people looking. That means successful employers of choice are paying solid wages and not making their employees feel like a number.
You might be surprised that many employees working remotely (68%) are admitting they are interested in freelance work on the side. This can be a gateway to them starting their own business or going out on their own in some capacity. Unless they are completely enamored by your company (engagement can accomplish this), it’s only a matter of time before they build up savings, clientele, or secure healthcare to take the leap.
For employees who are not remote, the number of available jobs in most industries could be causing disengaged employees to consider other options. A certain amount of attrition is not always a bad thing but when it starts affecting your top performers, your business will feel it.
If you engage them now and help them feel like they are bringing something meaningful to your business, they will be less likely to leave. And…
They’ll Talk About You
Whether it’s your employees or your customers, you want them to talk about you (in a good way) and refer others to you. Engaged groups do that. People who see you as simply meeting their expectations (or writing a check to them every two weeks) won’t.
They Could Become Your Next Competitor
Another thing COVID did was invite people to reevaluate their jobs and lifestyles. This has caused some to think about starting their own business. In fact, 63% of employees think they could quit and start their own. So, it could be only a matter of time before the proper alignment of the stars occurs and they become your newest competition.
Take Action Today
It doesn’t do you any good to hear how important engagement is without getting some tips on how you can start engaging. Ideally, you will commit to employee engagement at your business and doing so will affect every decision made. However, there’s no time like the present. While you’re working on the larger commitment to employee engagement, here are a few easy ways to start engaging them immediately:
Employee engagement is about helping employees feel they are a valued part of something larger, seeing themselves aligned with your operation, and feeling like they contribute to the success or failure of a project or the company as a whole. You want to cultivate a culture of caring, one in that employees care about customer outcomes and they feel like you care about them.
Some businesses are saying we are in the midst of a secondary pandemic. But it’s not the kind that requires masks and handwashing. No, this one is harder to control.
There is a dearth of people willing (or able) to work for a multitude of reasons. Employers across the country are posting signs asking for patience with their existing employees because the business is understaffed. In fact, there are hiring managers who are scheduling interviews only to have no one show up! You can’t hire people who don’t even come to an interview.
So what’s a business to do?
Some people blame the business. They believe that the average person wants to work but can’t afford to because of minimal wages and expensive childcare. But the numbers don’t entirely speak to that. 30% of US households are “married without children” in 2020. Single-person households are 23% of the population. So for over half, children aren’t a concern.
So, what can you do to combat the 3 common hiring problems these days? Here are some ideas.
Employment Hiring Challenges Post-COVID
If you brush wages aside as the main reason people don’t show up for interviews or first days for that matter, what are you left with?
Working from Home
It’s the elephant in the room. Why would a worker want to work behind a counter when they can sit at home and work (or sit by the pool or in a coffee shop, etc.). An unparalleled number of businesses created work from home scenarios, and many will stick to those protocols long after COVID. Work at home is no longer a perk. It’s an expectation and it’s hard to compete with that.
Solution: If your business is entirely in-person, it’s not like you’ll never be able to hire again. But it may take some creativity to appeal to workers. Things you might be able to do include flexible shifts (such as working around a child’s schedule) or floating start times within a window of time. The clue here is to get creative with the allowances you can make.
Ghosting Is the Norm
Ghosting has become the norm in relationships. Don’t want to deal with a difficult situation, ignore it and disappear. We’re starting to see this trickle down into our workforce. It’s acceptable to just not show for an interview, first day, drug screen, etc.
Solution: This is difficult to do when you’ve only had minutes of interaction with a candidate. However, people are more likely to ghost when they don’t feel a connection or don’t think of the employer as a person but rather a large corporate structure as in the “they won’t even notice I’m not there” scenario.
In order to avoid being ghosted, you have to do your best to connect with them in the short time you have. Share details about your life. Maybe you’re interviewing them on a special day and “fitting” them in or “clearing” your schedule. Do it respectfully and don’t force the guilt but try and make an impression. You may still get ghosted, but it will be less likely if they see you as a person with needs and feelings.
Reevaluating the Same Old, Same Old
With our forced downtime this past year, we were exposed to a LOT of marketing messaging and frankly many people are just burned out. They may find it hard to believe the claims of some companies.
Another thing people may have done is reevaluating things in their lives that just aren’t working. Some people may have decided that life is too short to work at an unfulfilling job. Others may have seen this pandemic as a kick in the pants from the universe to start their own job. Maybe they saw how being a loyal employee can still result in a lay-off or furlough. Whatever the cause of their employment ennui, people have changed, and you’ll need to too.
Solution: find out what your existing employees want (and what makes them stay with you). Use that in your job marketing. Ask employees for referrals. Reward them for their loyalty and they’ll talk about how great you are to their friends.
Employers are facing an unparalleled time right now, finding it very difficult to recruit good people. For many businesses, it’s difficult to get interest let alone keep someone after their first day. In order to be competitive in the job market, you need to stand out. These tips should help you do that. But you’ll need to go beyond them to think of some creative experiences for new employees. While you’re at it throw a few in for your customers. You never know. A loyal customer may just want to become part of your team.