4 Ways to Build an Engaged Culture at Your Funeral Home

Posted August 31, 2016

7 min read

We spoke with Bruce Felt, President and Owner of Memories By Design, about what it takes to encourage employee engagement at your funeral home. As much as 68 percent of employees today are not engaged at work—a notable figure because engagement is strongly tied to business outcomes including (but not limited to) productivity, profitability and engagement with customers/families (1). Knowing this, Felt shared 4 key insights for funeral professionals looking to boost employee engagement.

1. Millennials may not be that different from other generations.

Many times, the media seems to emphasize the differences that exist when working with Millennials versus working with other generations. Felt says two of the things he reads most often in such articles are that Millennials don’t work hard, and that they come across as entitled.

But are all the statements about Millennials true—or are they just generalizations?

Felt says it’s less about generational differences when it comes to engagement, and in many cases, it is more about the individual. “That being said, I personally think, those ideas are partially true and not necessarily the fault of [Millennials] alone. The environment and culture surrounding them—parents, teachers, technology, marketing—have contributed to that a great deal,” he says.

If Millennials—much like any employee—are shown that they are valued and appreciated, they can be on the path to increased engagement, says Felt. “No one likes to be categorized,” says Felt. “Like any employee, I think you need to treat them with respect and let them know their value to your business. In the funeral business, I think it’s important to be aware of not working your staff too hard, which can create burn-out. No one likes turnover, so creating a good work environment is important to young professionals who will tend to embrace that culture of being valued and wanted.”

“Part of that includes understanding that a Millennial’s free time is just as important as their time working. In fact, a lot would rather receive their free time than work 40+ hours a week, regardless of pay. They aren’t as hungry financially, as other generations have been.”

Rather than make extreme generalizations, or expect certain bad behavior from any segment of your employees, try to understand what each individual values and sees as rewarding. A work environment that demonstrates value and respect for the employee is what matters, and it may be just as important as their salary for many people, says Felt.

2. Build your team on trust and respect.

Part of cultivating engaged employees is about leadership, and often times leaders have to show that they trust employees. When leadership is able to show their belief in their employees, many times, the team will outperform other teams where that perceived trust is missing.

This is true for Millennials as well as other generations: “As long as you give them value and a reason to be loyal, [people can be] great employees. Allow them freedom to learn and grow—in the business and outside the business,” says Felt.

“The world is so much smaller now, and there are so many other stimuli out there, that young people, in particular, are being pulled in multiple directions, enticed to experience things outside normal work hours. If you understand that, you’ll gain respect by the employee as well,” adds Felt. When leadership shows they trust their people, and care about their development, the environment at work becomes one built on mutual respect.

3. Start embracing tech.

While many Millennials love technology, it certainly isn’t limited to just that generation. Often times, however, Millennials have a high degree of expectation when it comes to technology. After all, Millennials were raised with technology, so they are more likely to rely on it and expect it.

Funeral Directors can use that to their advantage. “We all know as each generation of young people grow up, they learn and understand much more than the previous generation did in terms of technology. That’s our world, so we need to either embrace it or go hide in a cave,” says Felt.

Whether it is how business is done with families, how operations are handled, or even how things are communicated, embracing technology will help firms retain young talent, as well as better serve families.

“Millennials are the most recently named group who are simply taking advantage of what’s in front of them. Why wouldn’t they? As a person at the back end of the ‘Baby Boomers,’ I’ve learned to embrace the technology so I can run my business, get the news and communicate with my children,” says Felt. “Like all businesses, funeral professionals need to do the same thing—and sooner, rather than later. There’s the old saying, ‘If you’re standing still, you’re falling behind.’ When you bring a young employee on board, identify what they have to offer you that can make your business better.”

That can include involving them in the decision-making process when you look to incorporate new technology or having them train others on staff. “Their value to you will go a long way towards a positive working relationship.” Just as previous generations valued hand-written letters and filling out forms manually, millennials see that as old-school and inefficient. They don’t see using technology as impersonal—just a smart way to operate.

4. Know that engagement starts in the interview process.

The path towards a workplace with high employee engagement really starts with recruiting and during the interview process itself. The interview process is critical in determining if someone is going to add to your firm’s culture, or take away from it.

“Look for value in each candidate, listening to their expectations and responses during the hiring process. Also, make sure they understand their role in your company, making this a two-way interview.” Just as much as you want to know about the candidate, you want the candidate to also have a good idea of your culture and your expectations, too. That’s true for a candidate, no matter their age.

“The last thing you want is an employee who finds out two weeks into a job that this isn’t the right fit and they bail on you.” If that happens, it wastes resources and it can bring down the existing team’s morale. If you are providing a work environment that trusts and empowers employees to use their professional judgment, is full of respect, and is an environment people can look forward to working at, you are well on your way to greater engagement.

Make Your Team Members’ Jobs Easier with CRäKN

Having to track down information from multiple sources and keep track of all of the activities needed to provide a great experience is a source of stress and frustration for your employees. This may be getting in the way of engagement, and it could even hinder them from being able to provide that great experience for your families.

CRäKN can make that easier and better: As a tool that provides everything you need to centralize your information and manage day-to-day activities, you will be able to streamline your operations, prevent errors, and save time. Find out more about how CRäKN can save you substantial time and help optimize your resources: request a demo today.

About Bruce Felt

Bruce Felt is President and Owner of Memories By Design. After 30 years working in marketing and promotion at various Pacific Northwest television stations, he has taken his experience and passion for video storytelling to a company that honors, celebrates and preserves the memories of loved ones through personalized custom Tribute Videos. Bruce can be contacted at 1-800-223-3050 or bruce.felt@memoriesbydesign.com. Visit www.memoriesbydesign.com for more information.

Sources http://www.gallup.com/poll/188144/employee-engagement-stagnant-2015.aspx

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