National Boss/Employee Exchange Day

Shot of two coworkers sitting at a table using a digital tablet

In theory, National Boss/Employee Exchange Day offers a chance for members of one side to see how the other works through a position change. The boss becomes the employee and vice versa: Think Freaky Friday for the business world.

While this may seem wonderful as a thought experiment, in practical application it becomes pretty messy. How does one boss trade places with multiple employees? Does everyone get a chance in the center chair or do only a lucky few take over?

Chances are the exchange that takes place involves ideas: The boss becomes more receptive to the input of those people on the frontlines who make the business run, and without the awkwardness of role reversals. Even in this form, though, we hit a snag: Shouldn’t a boss already be receptive to at least some input from the employees?

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Should this be the case, do the employees know? Can they see their suggestions put into effect around the workplace? Do they get a polite refusal or even an acknowledgement of something said? Or do they hear nothing? How long until they get tired of the lack of recognition?

Use the spirit of Exchange Day to ask yourself: How long would you stay if your bossed never listened to you?

One of the key components for any successful business is communication. While this seems like common sense, common sense solutions can be easily overlooked. Communication from managers and bosses of lands in the top five on lists of why people quit their jobs.


Related Article: SIX CHARACTERISTICS OF A SOLID EMPLOYEE

Listen to your people: Their thoughts, comments, concerns, and even criticisms. Put up a suggestion box. Schedule an open-door time for employees to stop in with their input. Regularly check your email.

Remember, though: Communication is a two-way process through which a message is sent and received with understanding. This understanding is conveyed through feedback, so what good does it do for someone to talk to you if they can’t tell if you understood or even heard a word said? Or if you read the email sent about the vending machine? And what ever happened to those slips of paper slid beneath your door?

While open communication certainly boosts an employee’s feelings of connection to the workplace, that alone may not be enough. According to the State of Small Business Report, fifty percent of small businesses plan to hire in the coming year. This means competition for quality personnel will be stiff. How can you stand out as the place to work?

Take some time to review your business and see how well you handle these conditions. Where do you make the grade? Where could you improve? More importantly, how will you do better?

Hr manager asking questions to female candidate

Recognition

Dr. Travis Bradberry said, “It’s easy to underestimate the power of a pat on the back.” Good work and loyalty deserve notice, whether through an award, a bonus, or a simple handwritten thank you note. You could take to your company’s social media pages to spotlight employees of the month. Come up with a customized program that’s special to your group.

Another form of recognition and a point of contention is promotion. Do you consider your current talent pool before you look outside for someone to fill a supporting role? If not, you should: Twenty-two percent of candidates left overlooked for promoted said they look elsewhere to advance their careers. Your status as a promoting business can work two-fold: Not only can this show potential personnel that your business offers its people chances to grow as employees, it shows your current people that you notice and reward hard work and dedication.

Work environment

The place in which you work, the people within, and the way you work can make your name or drag it through the mud. No one wants to walk into a place where you can taste tension in the air. Prolonged exposure to a toxic work environment can lead to more than just turnover. Those who stay can suffer from physical, mental, or emotional damages that wear on them, even outside of the workplace. Sixty-three of employees cite their workplace as a chief cause of stress in their lives.

How your people interact with and as a workforce, especially managers and supervisors, can play just as vital of a role. Fifty-five percent of surveyed employees considered the trust level between themselves and management of great importance to their workplace satisfaction. Whether a bad manager or simply someone with bad management skills, the end result can be the same: The loss of good people. Almost 50 percent of surveyed workers cited a supervisor as the reason they left a job.

Along the lines of toxicity is stagnation: The work doesn’t push, inspire, or challenge you. Left alone long enough and the tedium of the same thing, day in and day out, will wear on your people. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed consider challenging work the reason to stay with their current company. Without challenges – intellectual, creative, or skill-related – employees become bored, complacent, and may well look elsewhere for excitement or a chance to show off their abilities.

Trust and Knowledge

How would you feel if your boss said one thing, did another, and promoted something completely different? Would you wonder which face you spoke with during every interaction? How long would you play that guessing game?

The best place to start build your trustworthiness is at the beginning. Institute an onboarding program at your business as part of your training regime. Show your people your core value from the onset. Take the opportunity to hold an open forum with your new hires and let them ask about your business and how they can help further it.

Hiring & Growth in Small Business

The challenge after onboarding, just as with the employment period, calls for you to keep the lines of communication open. More than half (51 percent) of those surveyed stated they received little to no feedback on their performance or how to improve it. The same can be said for when they go to you. People who do not feel they can approach management lose engagement to their job and loyalty to their company (sadly, 65 percent at this time).

Whether a rundown of the way things are or a projection of where you want to go, the fact remains that people like to be in the know. This becomes even more vital with their vested interests in your success: Their time, efforts, and energy. Don’t their contributions entitle them to know just how they improved your standing?

Your efforts to keep them in the loop are worthwhile, especially when you consider this: It typically costs the company 20 percent of an employee’s salary when someone leaves. It costs to: Find a replacement, train said replacement in the position, and cover the reduced productivity caused by the lost employee and the training period. Thousands of dollars shifted from profit to deficit with a single resignation.

Let’s say that you can actively participate in Boss/Employee Exchange Day and decide to swap off with one of your subordinates. Try to take it with the same heart as Jon Pryce and Richard Webb of Kudos, a UK-based contract catering service.

Pryce, a managing partner and former chef, swapped places with head chef Webb for 2016’s National Boss/Employee Exchange Day. Both spent the day in the other’s position and walked away with a better understanding the responsibilities involved in the kitchen and the office.

“It…helped me understand the sorts of takes and challenges that Richard deals with on a regular basis,” said Pryce.

As for Webb, he found his time out of the kitchen “quite educating.”

Would you be able to take part in such a swap? How do you believe your business would benefit for you in a spot on the frontlines? Would you want your employees to treat you as one of them or would you want the underlying title of “boss” to remain?

If you couldn’t actively participate in this swap, what methods would you take to help keep your employees in the loop on your business and yourself on the general atmosphere of the workplace? What steps do you take now?

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Brian Sutter

Brian Sutter

Director of Marketing at Wasp Barcode
Brian Sutter is the Director of Marketing at Wasp, responsible for the development and execution of the company’s marketing strategy. His role encompasses brand management, direct and channel marketing, public relations, advertising, and social media. He also writes and speaks on topics related to helping small business owners grow their business and improve operational efficiency.
Brian Sutter
Brian Sutter