But trying to ignite the passions of minimum-wage workers requires more effort. They may not feel like true participants in the company’s success—unless you go the extra mile. Here’s how:
Spend time with them. Like parents raising kids, nothing bonds you with your entry-level staff more than paying attention to them. By devoting a few hours a week to work alongside them in the trenches, you send a message that you’re a hands-on, caring boss who values their contribution. But if they rarely see you, they’re more likely to feel estranged.
To gauge whether you’re spending sufficient time with them, test how well you know the names of your front-line employees. Do you use their names when addressing them?
Praise tasks. You already know that a simple “thank you” or “that was very well done” can pay incalculable dividends. The key is to connect your kudos to a concrete task that you observe, rather than offering vague or faint praise (such as “you’re doing OK” or “I have no complaints so far”).
Despite the fact that praise is free and easy to communicate to low-paid staff, it’s shockingly rare. Gerald Graham, dean of Wichita State University’s business school in Kansas, found that out of 1,500 surveyed workers, more than 50 percent said they seldom or never received verbal or written thanks for their efforts.