Homesteaders is proud to be named a Top Iowa Workplace for the sixth year in a row. Our team is dedicated to creating a culture where every team member feels welcome, trusted and heard. This year, our employees ranked us high in the areas of leadership, integrity, appreciation and work-life balance.
The top workplace award recognizes the hard work of building a culture that enables employees to do their best work, supported by core values and common purpose. If you are looking to become one of the top employers in your community, here are a few suggestions to help you get started.
Develop Strong Leadership
Studies have indicated that organizations with strong leadership are 13 times more likely to outperform their competitors. Which means it’s paramount that funeral homes grow and nurture future leaders. One of the first steps to growing your leadership team is to identify the best candidates. Many companies (like Homesteaders) allow employees to self-identify as potential leaders by raising their hands through a survey or by email.
Another option to find strong leaders in your organization is to discover who can rise to the occasion by challenging your current employees to complete tasks that are unfamiliar to them. If you choose to go this route, it’s important to remember that failure is not an indication of being unqualified for a leadership position. The fact that your employee attempted to take on this challenge is a great sign; they just may need additional training or education.
Once you’ve identified potential leaders it’s time to help them grow and learn. Continuing education for both funeral service and leadership is a must and can be accomplished utilizing multiple strategies including webinars, assigned readings, volunteer opportunities in your community and job shadowing.
Focus on Integrity
Your employees connect with your community on a regular basis. It’s important that they represent your funeral home in the most honest and helpful way possible. At Homesteaders, we have a set of core values and a mission statement that we expect each employee to follow. These integrity guidelines make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes time to make tough decisions inside and outside our organization.
Creating an expectation of integrity within your funeral home can start by creating your own mission statement. Once you’ve set the tone for how you expect your employees to act, make sure you stick to it. Any blatant examples of a lack of integrity, such as lying or stealing from you or your client families, should be swiftly dealt with.
Engage in Employee Appreciation
At Homesteaders, our employees are one of our most valuable assets. We do our best every day to make sure that each individual employee knows how much they are appreciated. Our Employee Engagement Committee plans company events and special holiday treats. We have a strong focus on celebrating birthdays and work anniversaries in each department. Retirements are celebrated with company-wide receptions and speeches (and cookies!). Each October, we celebrate Employee Appreciation Week (which is often known as Customer Service Week) with free lunches, snacks and optional events like sitting yoga, chair massages and visits from local rescue dogs.
Making your employees feel appreciated can be as simple as taking a few minutes at a team meeting to recognize an accomplishment, work anniversary or birthday. Catering breakfast, lunch or dinner can also help brighten people’s day, especially if the workload at the funeral home has been higher than usual. Never underestimate the value of a genuine “thank you,” delivered either verbally or in a handwritten note.
Promote Healthy Work-Life Balance
In funeral service, it can be challenging to find a balance between work and your personal life. That’s why funeral professional burnout is such a common occurrence. It is impossible to control the death of a member of your community, so someone has to be on-call 24 hours a day, even on holidays. However, there are a few steps you can take to help alleviate some of this stress.
First, if you’re noticing that your employees are consistently working long and difficult hours, it might be time to consider hiring additional help. Whether this individual is part-time or full-time, any weight you can take off your employee’s shoulders will be appreciated. If your firm isn’t in a position where you can hire additional staff, consider adding extra benefits like working from home when possible, providing flexibility for working parents and encouraging everyone to use all of their allowed vacation time each year. One of the best ways to make work-life balance a cultural norm is to lead by example. Stop checking your email at 3 a.m., make sure you are using your vacation time and be open and honest about your personal feelings of burnout and exhaustion.
It takes time and effort to become a top place to work in your community but taking steps now will help you grow into the future. Learn more about why Homesteaders was selected as a Top Iowa Workplace.