Comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s signature standup bit is, “You might be a redneck.” It’s a whole series of if/then jokes aimed at helping you discover if you could possibly be a redneck. For instance, “If you’ve been married three times and still have the same in-laws, you might be a redneck.” Or, “If you own a home that is mobile and 14 cars that aren’t, you might be a redneck.” On and on. I liked his “if you do this, then you might be that” approach and thought it might be an experiential way for describing business activities. Specifically, I thought it might be a way of describing a business that is employee centric, or what I would call a “winning workplace” . . . probably not as funny as Foxworthy’s schtick, but might nonetheless be instructional. For more on whether or not you are presiding over a “winning workplace,” please read below.
I was recently involved in a company’s annual management meeting. One of this company’s core values is “People” which they define as being “the employer of choice.” I thought that was very interesting. Instead of saying “our employees are lucky we chose them to be working here” (company centric), they’re saying “we’re lucky our employees chose to devote their working lives to us” (employee centric).
Southwest Airlines is very open about the fact that they place employees first. Their reasoning is that if people feel content and energized by their work, they will be more efficient and effective, but even more importantly, they will interact with customers more positively and customers will enjoy a better experience. So in the Southwest model, while it may seem a little counter-intuitive, the best way to deliver superior customer service is to put employees first.
Among companies that are considered “winning workplaces,” productivity could be up by as much as 30 per cent over their unenlightened competitors. In addition, turnover rates are lower and retention rates are higher. So if creating a “winning workplace” feels a little too touchy-feely and conjures up images of holding hands and singing Kumbaya, just remember, this isn’t just altruism at work here . . . better customer service, increased productivity, and reduced turnover are pretty hard-headed business reasons for wanting a “winning workplace.”
So with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, here are some ways you might start to figure out whether or not you’ve got a winning workplace.
If your employees embrace your corporate values and are positioned within the company so they can use their greatest talents, you might be a winning workplace.
If your employees routinely encourage friends and family to apply for job openings, you might be a winning workplace.
If your employees feel that their opinions are heard and valued, you might be a winning workplace.
If your employees enjoy being with one another, even socializing together, you might be a winning workplace.
If your employees get regular recognition for doing good work, you might be a winning workplace.
There are more, many more conditions that need to be met for yours to be considered a winning workplace. You might notice, none of the above examples talk about pay or benefits because those are a given . . . if you don’t have a competitive pay and benefits package, yours is almost certainly not a winning workplace.
The real key to being a winning workplace is commitment. If you put being a “winning workplace” right up there with all your other important goals and strategies, if you renew that commitment year after year with fresh programs and initiatives, and if you invite regular employee feedback about “how we’re doing,” you will be well on your way to being a winning workplace . . . and to enjoying all the business benefits that will come from that.