The Makings of a Champion Businessby Emily Read on July 25, 2012
When Olympics competition kicks off this week, two-time gold medalists and U.S. beach volleyball greats Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh will be chasing one of the most elusive achievements in all of sports – a three-peat. The Moore Communications Group team can relate, when it comes to being champions in the workplace. We’ve just been ranked by Florida Trend a “Best Place to Work” for the third year in a row. No lightning fast reflexes or fierce spikes here – just a great place to come to work each day. Our leadership team has created a culture of flexibility, appreciation and open communication, three major components in being a best place to work.
As I type this, I’m working at a stand-up desk, shimmying to my favorite Def Leppard tunes and looking at a half-day on Friday, thanks to MCG’s summer flex schedule. And I’m more productive than I’ve ever been in another job. Why? Because it’s a pleasure, not a drag, to come to work. Certainly deadlines and expectations abound, but it’s exceedingly more pleasurable to put my nose to the grind stone on behalf of an employer who values the effort.
Have my colleagues and I worked exorbitant hours putting together proposals for multi-million dollar contracts? Yes. Have we fielded calls from clients on the weekends and holidays? Of course. But we work for an employer who shows their appreciation for our hard work through catered lunches when it’s clear folks are too busy for breaks and a full week of paid time off between Christmas and New Years to spend quality time with our loved ones.
Not only is this a great way to show appreciation for employees – it’s also a sound business strategy. Psychologist Nigel Barber, Ph.D. says, “Treating employees well is a profitable strategy because they reciprocate by working hard.” The fact is, how employees are treated within their company has a direct impact on the bottom line of the business.
The True Cost of a New Employee
Did you know that replacing an employee can cost up to three times their annual salary? Direct costs, such as advertising the position, are obvious. But the indirect costs can be much more expensive, like the expenses associated with training a new employee and the loss of productivity that occurs in a department functioning without enough staffers.
Let’s also not forget a potentially even more devastating consequence of taking employees for granted – they talk about it. Studies show that when a customer is disgruntled, they share with an average of eight people. Imagine how many more people to which an unhappy employee vents.
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ found that when they gave employees more flexibility over their days, employee turnover was reduced by nearly nine percent. Says Yolanda Seals-Coffield, Principal of PWC’s Office of the General Counsel, “The world is changing, and people entering the workforce today have so many opportunities to find the environment that works for them, both in traditional and less traditional career tracks. People have choices and flexibility that didn’t exist even a decade ago, and I believe our workforce is better because of it.”
What You May Not Be Doing (But You Should Be)
“Study after study has shown that it is the small things that make workers feel committed to an organization,” says Barbara Glanz, an author specializing in workplace issues, in an interview for the Christian Science Monitor. “One study shows the top three things workers want are interesting work, full appreciation for the work they do, and a feeling of being in on things.”
Here are three ways to ensure you’re taking care of employees:
• Are you making it easy for your employees to get their work done?
This goes beyond the basics – just giving an employee a computer and a desk is merely scratching the surface. Companies like SAS (named the best company to work for in Fortune Magazine in 2011) and Google have on-site childcare and dry cleaning, all in the name of making an employee’s life easier so they can give work their best. But, it doesn’t take a huge budget or a 26-acre campus (like Google’s) – it takes a willingness to be more flexible. At Moore Communications Group, I worked from home for four weeks immediately following my maternity leave, allowing me to extend my time with my child. Provided we’re available to clients and team members when needed, our team is able to attend college orientation with their child during the afternoon or spend the morning working from home to get an important project done. We’re not alone. During the busy tax season, employees at accounting firm Ernst & Young meet on Monday mornings to review personal commitments, like basketball games and PTA meetings. They then develop a plan to help cover one another and enable team members to be enjoy a life outside the office, even during their busiest time of year. Even if you can’t build a basketball court or hire a chef to prepare gourmet lunches for staff, creating a policy of flexibility and cooperation is accessible for every business.
• Are you helping employees to feel good?
Think pro bono outreach, professional development and wellness programs. The average employee spends 43 hours at work each week – that represents more than half of their waking hours each week, which doesn’t give employees a lot of time for exercise and community service. But savvy employers recognize that a mentally and physically healthy workforce is a more successful workforce. For example, the American Heart Association reports that for every dollar invested in a workplace wellness program, employers receive a minimum net benefit of $3.40, thanks to fewer sick days and increased productivity. At MCG, wellness coordinator Shannon Colavecchio organized a 12-Hour Plank Challenge, in which staff was encouraged to hold a one-minute plank every hour for 12 hours. Sound like a lot of time away from our desks? We did the math, and even when we had to wait a few minutes for colleagues to join us before getting started, we found that we actually were away from our workstations for less time than a typical coffee break. Not only that, the countdown to the next plank served as a timer to help us stay on track throughout the day. We unanimously agreed that the time away from our desks made us more efficient in completing our work.
• Are you, and your fellow company leaders, actively seeking employee feedback?
The old “open door policy” isn’t the only thing that counts here. It’s no longer enough to wait for an employee to come to you with a concern. In fact, by the time an employee voices frustration, it’s likely as they’re walking out the door. “Businesses are understandably focused on expenses," said Ronald Leopold, vice president of MetLife’s U.S. Business, in a USA Today article about employee retention. “But they’re taking their eye off the ball with human capital issues, notably what drives employee satisfaction and loyalty.”
Leadership consultant Mark C. Crowley takes it one step further: “Your people want to contribute to the success of an organization they respect; to work directly for an empowering and caring boss; to be given opportunities to grow and progress; to enjoy reasonable job variety; and to have their efforts authentically valued and acknowledged. And all across the world, these five things matter more to people than pay.”
The only true way to know if your employees are happy is to earnestly seek their feedback on a regular basis. This can be formal, with an office wide survey, or informal, with a “What can our company do better?” conversation worked into an annual review. But it must be genuine. Employees should feel as though any suggestions they give are fair game and worth discussion, even if they aren’t ultimately implemented.
Consistently, we find that the most successful companies are those that demonstrate the most concern over their employees and have the corporate policies to back it up. At Moore Communications Group, our flexibility and opportunities have built a strong team, capable of producing amazing client work that gets results. We may not ever get an Olympic gold medal, but our leadership always makes us feel like champions.