How to Make Your Funeral Home a Great Place to Work

If you asked your funeral home’s staff members how they feel about working for your firm, do you know how they’d respond? This question is important for more than just your employees’ personal satisfaction – their attitudes and perceptions about their workplace will affect how they perform and how they represent your firm in the community.

Homesteaders was recently recognized as one of Iowa’s Top Workplaces, and we’re proud to have fostered a workplace where employees enjoy coming to work. Creating a great workplace is an ongoing effort no matter what your business, and funeral professionals face unique working conditions that make a positive environment especially important. Here are a few ways you can help ensure your employees are satisfied working at your firm:

Establish strong values (and live by them).

Staff members should feel confident in their firm’s mission and values. Has your firm defined a set of values – and do you regularly remind your team about them? Ongoing communications – whether they’re through staff meetings, email updates or employee newsletters – should frequently reference your firm’s purpose. In addition to improving employees’ job satisfaction, your values can make a noticeable difference in how your firm is perceived in the community.

Homesteaders’ core values are powerful in terms of building a sense of personal responsibility for the success of the company. For example, Homesteaders values a mutually beneficial relationship with our employees, customers and stakeholders. Notice that employees are part of the equation – without a motivated and productive workforce, a company cannot effectively serve its customers. These values are posted on signs throughout the home office building, serving as reminders of why we exist as a company and how each employee can make a difference.

Show your team that their work matters.

In the rush of day-to-day operations, it can be easy to forget how important funeral service professionals are to the families they serve. If your firm receives a positive customer survey response, an excellent online review or a “thank you” letter from a grateful family, be sure to share with your team members (especially those who are specifically cited for exceptional service).

Employees want a balanced perspective on their personal performance and on their firm’s performance. They value honest, constructive feedback – even if that feedback isn’t a rave review. When a firm receives negative feedback from a customer, a good manager will investigate the comments and share how the team can use it to improve their efforts in the future. Even if a negative review seems unfair, it can provide a lesson on how to serve families during a sensitive and emotionally difficult time.

Provide opportunities for two-way communication.

Employees want to feel that their ideas and concerns are important to their firm’s leadership. Set up periodic one-on-one meetings (in addition to regular performance reviews), at which staff members can discuss their jobs with their managers. These quick “checkups” can help everyone on the team set short-term goals and track progress toward long-term goals. The meetings can also be a source for new ideas about how to improve efficiency and provide better service – a win-win for your customers and your staff.

Surveys can provide valuable customer feedback, and they may also be an effective tool for evaluating the satisfaction of your employees. After a funeral service, one of the most effective survey questions you can ask your client families is, “How likely would you be to recommend us to someone else?” You can ask a similar question on a workplace survey to gauge your employees’ satisfaction with their funeral home jobs: “On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the most likely), how likely would you be to recommend working at this funeral home to another funeral service professional?” Provide an opportunity for employees to comment on their rankings to help you determine what your firm is doing well and how you can improve the workplace.

Encourage a team-oriented environment.

Funeral service is a demanding profession, and it’s important to ensure that members of your staff feel they can rely on each other during busy or otherwise difficult times. This is another reason why open communication is important – it can help you identify and address potential problems before they affect the quality of your firm’s service.

Fostering a positive, team-oriented environment also requires you to clearly define responsibilities. When each person knows his or her role and understands those duties make him or her accountable for the firm’s success, your team will be able to collaborate more effectively.

Recognize achievements at work and in the community.

Satisfied employees know their work is appreciated when they’re recognized through simple gestures such as praise at a staff meeting or a handwritten note from the funeral home owner. During busy times when everyone at the funeral home is working long hours, that recognition of exceptional service can make a big difference.

Funeral service is a community-oriented profession, and funeral professionals often participate in volunteer activities, civic groups and/or religious organizations. Your staff’s significant achievements outside of work, such as winning a volunteer award, are worthy of recognition and praise. By showing appreciation for these pursuits, you’ll encourage your staff members’ involvement in community activities. Many exceptional firms take community outreach a step further by donating their employees’ paid time to work on volunteer projects – which also serve as team-building opportunities.

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