Periodically, we like to share the success stories of companies dealing with HR issues. This case study comes courtesy of Tom Pace, CEO of PaceButler in Oklahoma City.
Every firm, no matter the size, has had to deal with workplace whiners, and ours was no different.
Complaining and gossiping weren’t out of control in our workplace.
But we knew the effect that even the typical amount of grumbling and hushed whispers can have.
We decided to try to do something to stem complaining and gossiping. Whatever we did, we wanted to make sure it lasted long-term.
But what was the best way to do that?
Seven days at a time
After a lot of brainstorming, we put together a three-point improvement plan.
Here’s how it works: Every quarter, we choose three things we ask participating staff to avoid.
The first two are always the same: no gossiping and no complaining.
The third changes each quarter. In our first quarter, we chose lying. For the second quarter, we chose cursing.
Then, we ask participating workers to try to go seven days without doing any of those three things.
We ask staff members to pick out any type of wristband to wear as a helpful reminder to avoid gossiping, complaining and lying.
If they slip up during their seven-day period, they move the wristband from one arm to the other and start over.
$500 reward each month
Once we had the specifics of the initiative down, we had to figure out a way to entice staff to get involved.
So we turned to the classic incentive: money.
Every time an employee goes seven days without complaining, gossiping or lying, for example, he or she puts a star next to his or her name on a poster in our company conference room.
And at the end of each month, we put those people’s names in a hat and conduct a drawing for a $500 reward.
The best part: People who successfully stick to the program a couple times over a month have a better chance of winning.
Example: If a worker has three seven-day periods where he didn’t gossip, complain or lie, he’d enter his name into the drawing three times.
Yes, we operate on an honor system, which we knew could cause issues.
But we pitched it to staff this way: If you lie about not gossiping, complaining or lying and then win the $500 monthly reward, you’re not only stealing from the company – you’re also stealing from your peers.
75% participation rate
We couldn’t be happier with how the program’s gone so far. After six months, we have about a 75% participation rate among employees.
We’ve also heard from some staff who’ve said they’ve instituted a “no complaining, no gossiping” program in their own homes.
But best of all, our workplace atmosphere and environment has changed for the better.
We see staff stop and think before speaking. And that’s not only led to better communication, but it’s also contributed to higher productivity.