The Technical Break is an institution in Russia.  It allows the worker time off for a meal or toilet break.  Whether working in a bank or museum, the worker has the right to ignore the queue of waiting customers to take their break at the designated time.  Take note all employers.  This is a wonderful way to treat your employees.  Employees get regular rest breaks, employers get refreshed workers who feel valued.

But it’s not such a great way to treat your customers.  And without them you won’t be needing employees for long.  There is a way to have both happy employees and happy customers.  It comes down to training and culture.

The problem in the Russian system is that when a staff member goes on a technical break, no-one covers that duty.  Others may be standing around with time on their hands but it’s somehow inconceivable to them that they might pitch in.  Those employees are there to do their own task only, and not to deliver a service to the customer.

Training staff in more than one task or skill benefits the whole organisation.  In the case of absences, business goes on with minimal disruption.  Staff morale is up as they don’t get bored performing the same task over and over.  Succession planning is simpler too.  It’s much easier to replace a departing staff member when you have one already part of the team.  The team culture is what brings it all together.  Fostering a culture of teamwork rather than separateness benefits everybody – the employee, the customer and ultimately the business.

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