Think about your ideal workplace. What are the people like? What is your direct supervisor like? How do you feel being there? How do you feel going home?
The fact is, we all want to work somewhere we are appreciated, treated like a human being, and encouraged to be our best. And no one likes leaving work feeling completely emotionally drained, nor the feeling of waking up dreading the 8 to 10 hours you’ll spend at the office. So, what’s the main difference between the ideal workplace and the worst case scenario?
It’s whether a company and leadership can put their employees first or not.
Why It’s Important
In the traditional workplace, there was a straight forward transaction: an employee clocked in and traded time for money. It was as though the company rented someone by the hour. As business and people have evolved over the years, more is expected of companies and their leadership. Rather than simply lording over employees, managers and supervisors are expected to actually care about their employees.
But why? Why should it ever be more than the transactional relationship of yesteryear?
Because the old model didn’t work nearly as well as the new age one. The old model existed with a culture of fear and anxiety permeating offices. People were afraid to mess up because they had anxiety about being yelled at and the terrifying possibility of losing their livelihood. While this might keep someone on the clock, it doesn’t necessarily make them more productive.
Finally, we started paying attention to what motivates people. It turns out people are motivated more by loyalty and a feeling of appreciation than the feelings of dread like before. Keeping your employees in a constant state of uneasiness only manages to distract them and make them less productive.
They’ll also be more likely to quit and move on to a company that values them. That means more turn over and more wasted time and money on your end.
Benefits Of A People First Work Environment
Think back to a time you felt truly appreciated. Did it make you want to quit or did it make you want to keep trying your hardest? Likely, it was the latter. When we feel appreciated and valued, we try harder to do better. As you put your employees first and work to improve the business environment they’re in for 40 hours every week, they’ll prove to be more productive and have better output than before.
Another benefit to this environmental shift is that your employees will start working together as a team. The days of cut throat business cultures aren’t necessarily dead, but it’s phasing out and that’s primarily due to all employees feeling valued rather than pitted against each other.
Competitiveness can be a good thing, but when it’s the primary feeling of your company’s culture, then you stand little to no chance of employees actually working together. This will lead to less work getting done and what does get done won’t be nearly as good as it could have been.
Ultimately, having employees who leave work happy will make for a society of better citizens. When you leave work after an awful day and then run right into traffic, many of us turn to expletives and hand gestures. We go home to our families upset and irritable, making their lives miserable, too.
The problem snowballs and society is the worse for it. In contrast, having employees who feel valued and appreciated will lead to happier employees at the end of the day, so their off time is spent in better moods, spreading the joy rather than the anger.
How You Can Improve Your Company Culture
Changing an entire company’s culture doesn’t happen overnight, but it does start at the top. You have to be the one to start caring. Care about your employees and their lives, what they’re going through, how they’re feeling. Care that they are human beings and treat them as such, rather than treating them as underlings.
Place a focus on employee growth. If your employees feel that you are investing in them, they will invest in you. Doing the same thing every day can become monotonous but offering training or education benefits can motivate your employees with new skills. They will repay the investment ten fold.
You should also consider a company wide focus on wellness, both physical and mental. There’s been a shift in the last few years where people are focusing on their self care. As you start to care about your employees’ wellness, they will start to care, too. This will make for a healthier, happier, more balanced team of people who come to work more days of the year and are willing to work even harder for you.
Finally, learn to put people before business. Say you have an employee who’s just lost a close family member. Instead of having them fill out a bunch of paperwork to simply take a couple days off to grieve and attend a funeral, offer them a couple of weeks.
Do you know your employee is having trouble getting to work on time because they have to drop their kids off at school? Why not figure out an arrangement that works for both of you?
The most important thing to remember is that your employees are just people, the same as you. The only difference is who gets the bigger office. Everyone has issues in their life and everyone is motivated by the same things: feeling appreciated, feeling seen, and feeling special.
As you put your employees first, your company culture will change and this change in environment will have an impact on both your business and the people who devote their lives to it.