The Journal Gazette
Sunday, September 15, 2019 1:00 am

Author shares his secrets for happy workers

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

Employers with workers who have come to view their jobs not as a passion, but as a “daily grind,” might want to think about their retention strategy.

A disgruntled and disengaged workforce can undermine production and harm customer relations, while a happy, engaged workforce does the opposite, author Shawn Burcham says.

“If you take care of your employees, they will be better prepared and far more motivated to take care of your customers,” said Burcham, founder and CEO of Pro Food Systems Inc., or PFSbrands, and author of “Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success.” 

The book was released in mid-August.

“Ideally,” Burcham said in a news release, “you want employees who think and act like owners.”

PFSbrands, which started as a home-based business, has more than 1,500 branded food service locations across 40 states and is best known for its Champs Chicken franchise.

GRITT is an acronym for a personal philosophy Burcham says on his website he has long held: Goal driven, Responsible, Involved, Team and Tolerance of failure.

In the email pitch for his book, Burcham outlines four strategies for helping employees love what they do.

• Have fun. People spend more hours at their jobs than doing just about anything else, so the time might as well be enjoyable rather than drudgery, Burcham said in the news release. Having fun could be as simple as allowing workers to decorate their work area or celebrating birthdays.

• Coach them up. All employees must be willing to learn at a pace consistent with the company's growth, Burcham said.

“Usually, we hire people with a skill set that enables them to scale with us,” he says.

“Sometimes, though, we have employees who are challenged to 'make the leap' with us. When that happens, we work with them to find a role on our team where they can excel.”

• Maintain a positive attitude. Most successful people are optimistic and won't give up, Burcham said. But anyone “can be or become an A player,” he said.

“It simply revolves around having a positive attitude along with a desire to learn and constantly improve.”

• Show appreciation. Employees want to know that bosses – and their co-workers – appreciate them.

Burcham says at his company new hires are welcomed by dozens of emails from team members before they arrive for the first day of work. When they start, two or three dozen employees gather to greet them with a high-five.

“For our team, it's all about gratitude,” Burcham says. “It's not, 'I have to go to work today.' It's, 'I get to go to work today.'”

Speaking of retention

New research from global staffing firm Robert Half shows 81% of employers are concerned about holding on to top talent, with 1 in 3 being very concerned.

A separate survey indicated 43% of professionals plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months, the firm said in an August news release.

Retention tactics most often cited by employers include increasing communication with staff (46%), improving employee recognition programs and offering professional development (each with 41%).

Somewhere, though, there seems to be a disconnect. When workers who said they intend to leave their jobs were asked what would entice them to stay, the staffing firm reports that more money topped the list (43%), followed by more time off or better benefits (20%).

Cities with the highest percentage of workers planning to job hunt ranged from Miami to Minneapolis, and included Indianapolis.

The online surveys conducted in April were developed by Robert Half and conducted by independent research firms.

They included responses from more than 2,800 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees and more than 2,800 workers employed in office environments in 28 major U.S. cities. 

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at

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