Do Your Employees Whistle While They Work?

Tips for Keeping Your Team Happy and Productive at Work

Larry Morey and Frank Churchill wrote the song “Whistle While Your Work” in 1937 for the Disney movie “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” The seven dwarfs sing the song while they are cleaning a room. The whistling makes the day go by faster and helps them finish their task with a smile on their face.

As an employer, if you’re unhappy with your employees, you can retrain or let them go. Or, and here is the best thing to do, create the work environment where your employees whistle while they work and are happy to be with you.

There are many ways you can find out about the wages and benefits other companies are paying. Chart where you are. You should be above the mid-point. Below that and you have no chance of retaining your staff.

More Than Just Benefits

Start with a look at your benefits. You should give your employees ample options, a solid retirement savings plan and a strong program of paid time off, including sick/personal days, scheduled vacation time, training time and time off for family emergencies. Strong health plans are more valuable than wages. Retirement plans are more valuable than wages. Keep these two thoughts in mind.

Now, let’s whistle while we work. Are your employees happy? Do they love coming to work? Are they proud of working with you? These thoughts are more important than wages or benefits.

Doing something special for your employees is not extra pay. It is one of the tools you must use to retain employees and encourage folks to work their best for you. Here are some ideas:

• On hot summer days, bring ice cream sandwiches and give one to each employee. In cold weather, make pots of hot chocolate for an afternoon break. Even in a mild climate, do something special for your people and be sure to hand these out yourself. Nothing beats a co-worker looking in your eyes and saying thank you.

• Have a holiday party around Christmas. Have a picnic on a summer weekend, with ownership and management doing the cooking and the cleanup.

• Give a $500 scholarship to employees’ children in their first year of college. Support local parent-teacher organizations in districts where your employees live. If you are in a winter climate, pay an employee to clean off everyone’s cars an hour before the shift time ends.

• Have a monthly or quarterly newsletter that talks about special events in employees’ lives … a special birthday or anniversary, a wedding or a new baby, for instance. Each of these events deserves a special gift certificate from you. Not significant; $25 works. It is the thought that counts.

• Visit with each employee who has a family death. Attend the funeral or calling hours.

• Send a small gift to every employee’s child who graduates from high school, college or even kindergarten.

• Pay 50% of any college course an employee takes and 100% if the course is work-related and the employee gets a grade of B or better.

• Pick a local charity and have employees take a day off of work and volunteer as a group. Be there yourself and bring lunch for all.

• In front of everyone, recognize those who have not missed a day of work for six months with a gift certificate.

• If you have had a good quarter, tell everyone how they have helped the company and give everyone a $100 Visa gift card.

It’s not about the money but about recognizing that your workers are special. They will appreciate it, and you will retain folks. It will be less expensive than hiring replacement employees.

Paul Bieber has more than 40 years’ experience in the glass industry, with C.R. Laurence and as executive vice president of Floral Glass in New York. He is now the principal of Bieber Consulting Group LLC and can be reached at Read his blog on Tuesdays at

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