I have very fond memories of my first “real” job. After all, this was my initial step into the real world: no longer did I receive cash for a few hours of watching someone’s children; I now had my hands on an official paycheck – complete with my social security number, full address, and withholdings for the government!
I was attending college, so this was a part-time job at a (local) state bank a few blocks from my home. I originally answered an advertisement requesting help as a new accounts representative, but I soon found myself learning about every aspect of banking.
I did help open new accounts, but I also spent time assisting customers with their safe deposit boxes and working as a teller handling deposits, withdrawals, and other transactions.
The bank’s vice president and cashier took me under her wing and taught me a great deal about banking. It was an exciting and exhilarating time!
I learned about the FDIC and was privy to the bank’s safe, which contained the actual currency available at any given time. I was educated on why banks cannot be closed for more than three consecutive days in a row (and assumed this is why many banking holidays land on Mondays!).
I helped process personal and commercial loans and greeted customers as they entered our lobby.
Looking back, I believe the VP/Cashier hoped I would follow a career in banking. I did not take that path but think of that particular time in my life often (I really didn’t consider it a job … it was more like a fun internship!).
I’ve had a few jobs since that time, and several have involved personnel management.
My experience at the bank taught me a lot about how an employee wants to be treated. I was the lowest-ranking employee at the bank, yet was treated as the officers and board members were. I had the opportunity to learn as much as I wanted and work in various departments in the bank. I was never bored! I left with great references – and only took another job because I was considering applying for law school and wanted to have some experience working with attorneys.
Have you spoken with your employees lately? I share this experience as a reminder that a little bit of interest can go a very long way in helping workers feel valued and appreciated.
At the bank, we only had 30-minute lunch breaks. To offset that, the bank provided bread, deli meats and cheeses and frozen entrees. I am dating myself here, but my first microwave experience was at the bank! The point is, the bank asked for the sacrifice of a short lunch break but offered something in return for the favor.
Do you know what your employees really want? You might be surprised to speak with them individually. Each employee might want something completely different, but you may also find they share some common desires. And these desires might easily be within your budget and reach as an employer.
You might find an employee who really wants to learn and tackle new challenges. What a great internal resource! Teach that employee and empower him.
You may uncover an employee who enjoys working at your company but is bored stiff in his current position. Better to know this now than on the day he hands in his resignation.
You may learn that someone really wants to retire soon but has been afraid to mention this to management. In this case, knowing about an impending departure in advance can only lead to a smoother transition.
You may discover innovative ideas and uncover a willing spirit from some employees to learn and achieve more.
Take a moment this week to sit down with each member of your team for a candid – and possibly enlightening – conversation.