leadership

What it takes to make employees happy

Special to The Globe and Mail

What it takes to make employees happy (iStockPhoto/iStockPhoto)

Watching Lynne Zappone, chief talent officer of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen on the TV show Undercover Boss, journalist Carol Tice teased out the five things that employees at the fast-food chain (and probably your own staff) want. She shared them on :

A pleasant work environment: At one outlet, the manager was yelling at the workers, including the undercover boss.

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Recognition: The janitor at one store impressed Ms. Zappone by buying his own less-toxic cleaning products to use. “I consider this my store,” he told his undercover boss. But he noted the chain has no employee-of-the-month award, unlike its competitors.

Perks: Ms. Zappone wasn’t impressed when a co-worker asked her for a ride so he could eat at Taco Bell, where the food is cheaper. He used to eat at his own restaurant, he said, but the employee discount was discontinued. The company picnic, too, had disappeared.

Help when they need it: Popeyes did not act with enough sensitivity, Ms. Zappone realized, after Hurricane Katrina. One employee with 20 years service, a superb trainer, was fired when she couldn’t return to work fast enough. And that loyal janitor lost everything in the hurricane and lived at his church for two years while he got back on his feet, without any company assistance.

Mentoring: After getting close to her employees, Ms. Zappone handed out scholarships to help one line worker who was trying to attend hospitality college, as well as a manager who hoped to become a regional trainer.