Profits and employee morale have a direct connection

3 Feb

Recently, I read a long winded article talking about the worst rated companies in the United States.  The writer often drew a parallel between decreasing profits and employee morale.  There are some solid reasons behind this, and it is something that is often overlooked by company CEOs looking to restore a company’s market share and image.

I really think these CEOs must live in a glass bubble.  Surely they don’t ever talk with the lowly employees, or even do much shopping themselves.  This is a concept that should be immediately apparent.

Unhappy employees do not perform well.

Threats of termination or disciplinary action aren’t going to do much to make them happy, either.  That type of reaction to their lack of stellar performance will undoubtedly have the reverse effect, and the increasingly poor performance aren’t going to increase the bottom line either.

Employees as a whole are not incredibly complicated creatures.  They have a few basic needs, and by addressing these, the overall morale improves, along with job performance and efficiency.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a PhD to figure it out either.

Employees want to feel valued.

Employees want to feel as though their opinions and ideas matter.

Employees want to be treated fairly.

Employees want reasonable job security.

Employees want good health care because it shows that the company values its employees and their families.

Employees want reasonable hours, shifts, overtime, vacations, and off days.

Employees want opportunities for advancement.

Employees want to feel safe at their job.

Employees do not want to work with people that are not performing their job or are taking risks/liberties that put other workers at risk.

Okay, so “employees” isn’t a separate sub-species of human.  It can’t be entirely generalized, but the concepts are generalized enough to fit most situations and most people.  It really all comes down to whether or not the company is showing that they do value their workers, really.  Everything from vacation, family  leave, health care policies, advancement, pay raises, safety, etc. are part of that overall concept.  A truly good employer is capable of recognizing that one of their workers is a member of an ethnic minority/religious group that has a particular holiday of great importance and then attempting to accommodate that employee’s desires to observe this holiday.  It’s capable of recognizing that an employee has a sick child/parent/spouse and needs some extra time off and flexibility with their job temporarily and works to make the situation reasonable.

Sure, these situations are capable of becoming quite sticky.  They may cost a bit.  In the long run, the employee being accommodated is happier and feels a sense of connection with the company, and the other employees are also feeling the same positive things.  These aren’t huge things, and aren’t incredibly expensive either.

The same with fair treatment.  Seeing employees being rewarded or disciplined fairly sends a message to other employees, encouraging them to perform better.  Knowing that raises and other concrete rewards exist for positive reinforcement enhance that performance too, the same as fair disciplinary action against those who fail to perform properly does.

Firing employees for minor infractions, threatening to fire, and making statements about how a new hire is waiting on the street sends a very clear message to the employee. The company doesn’t care whether or not they stay or perform well while they are there, since obviously their position could be filled by anyone.  Why bother trying to do anything other than find a better job at any cost when in that situation?

Employee loyalty doesn’t come cheap, and it’s not easy to acquire either.  It requires consistent effort from the company to cultivate, and it can be lost in the blink of an eye and one slip by an incompetent manager.  However, when a company has that employee loyalty, it’s worth millions, often quite literally, in terms of performance.  Companies that treat their employees very well are seldom advertising for new hires, if ever.  They don’t struggle to find warm bodies to fill those slots, because word-of-mouth has already filled the applications needed to find the perfect new employee.  Without a continual turn over of employees, there is stability in the company and a consistent performance that everyone can count on, from customers to shareholders.

So wake up, company CEOs, and smell the coffee.  Happy, healthy, and efficient employees can mean that you are still collecting those bonuses ten years from now, instead of being asked to step down, and it doesn’t matter if you are selling a necessity or luxury.  Your employees are an important cog in your company’s bottom line and it’s long past time to recognize that.

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