DALLAS — A couple of columns ago I discussed the staffing challenge that all of us as drycleaning owners have. However, finding great employees is just one part of the staffing challenge.

Another major challenge that owners face is how to keep people engaged and excited about their drycleaning and laundry company.

When discussing employee engagement most consultants focus on the recognition side of the equation. Recognition, whether in the form of employee awards like employee of the month or employee events like pizza parties, is certainly a great way to make your staff feel appreciated.

I strongly encourage recognition at drycleaning companies. However, I’ve found that these serve more as sugary desserts, providing a short-term sugar rush of motivation, but not the long-term sustained engagement for which all of us hope as owners.

Real, long-term employee engagement is much harder because it forces us as owners to do something that we’re often uncomfortable doing: sharing information. As the old expression goes, “information is power.”

WHAT TO SHARE

Obviously, you should share only as much data with your staff as you feel comfortable. However, my advice would be to share as much as you possibly can.

At my company, we are an open book. At our recent annual meeting, I shared full data on revenue and profitability with my staff as well as the data that drove changes in those indicators.

By doing this, I believe we showed employees the respect that they deserve and showed them that they are key players in our success.

More specifically, I recommend sharing the most important metrics to measure success in the major functions of the company, such as finance, marketing, operations, stores and route.

In determining these metrics I always ask myself the question: “If all of these metrics were above goal would I be fully confident that this section of the business was doing well?”

PREPARE TO SHARE

Many owners I talk to say they would love to share more with their employees, but are concerned about some of the fallout that could be caused when data is shared.

For example, if we show that the company is really profitable, will every employee want more money? If we show that the company is struggling, will people want to leave? If we show that people make more money than others, will that cause problems?

These are legitimate concerns and it’s absolutely true that sharing information can cause problems. However, in my experience sharing information only causes problems if you aren’t prepared to explain your choices.

For example, employees understand that not everyone makes the same wage, and will accept it if there is a logical explanation or system behind it. However, if pay gaps are arbitrary than you will have issues.

Likewise, if your company is profitable, it’s important to explain that those profits need to be reinvested in the business or used as compensation for your work and financial risk.

As an example, at my company, we have a profit percentage we need to meet to fund growth. Profits above that mark can be distributed in raises and bonuses.

This centers everyone around the key goal of increasing profitability. These are just examples, but whatever you decide to share, make sure that it can be clearly explained by a logical, rule-based system, not the whims of the owner.

In summary, implementing a company-wide, ongoing information-sharing program driven by daily, weekly, and monthly scorecards and regular review of those scorecards will empower and engage your employees.

You’ll find that this newfound employee engagement will enhance their quality of life as well as the health of the business. Giving is indeed better than receiving!

To read Part 1, go HERE.