Every tree care pro knows that effective job site communication is critical to staying safe while working (see page 32 for more on worksite communications and planning), but have you considered that the success of your business could hinge on the way you interact with your employees when the saws aren’t running?

Gallup’s annual State of the American Workplace report released in 2013 found that regardless of the perks, benefits or even salaries offered by a workplace, poor management will create unhappy employees. The study found that 70 percent of Americans either hate their job or are disengaged from their work. And, while it may not be too hard to find eager, qualified employees, retaining them for the long haul is the real challenge: employee engagement peaks during the “honeymoon period,” the first six months of employment.

So, what’s the key to keeping your employees engaged, working hard and committed to your crew for the long term? Effective communication. When working in a fast-paced, constantly changing and potentially dangerous environment, as tree crews often do, the importance of regular employer/employee communications can be overlooked. Taking the time to talk to, and more importantly listen to, your employees can go a long way toward establishing a positive culture and boosting morale. Here are some quick tips for effectively communicating with your crew.

  • Recognize employees’ strengths and accomplishments. Managers who focus on positive factors tend to have more engaged employees. Capitalizing on crew members’ individual strengths can also lead to a safer, more-efficient job site. Plus, who doesn’t appreciate a pat on the back for a job well done?
  • Meet with your crew consistently, and not just to communicate your daily expectations. Discuss the long-term goals you have for your company. Encourage your employees to make suggestions for improvement.
  • Listen as much as you talk. A simple, and often overlooked, way to show an employee that they are appreciated is by listening to what they have to say. An estimated 75 percent of employees leave jobs because of relationship issues. Show your crew that they are valued.

Katie Meyers