A happier, healthier workplace

How to start the new year with a new way of doing business


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Wouldn’t you love your employees to say only wonderful things about your company? Your employees can be your biggest asset, but if they’re not happy and healthy, they can be your biggest expense. Here are some simple steps you can take, beginning today, to ensure a winning environment:

 • Respect each employee and remember that they choose to work for you. Employees who feel respected and appreciated often spend more time thinking about how hard they can work for you than how much they’re being paid.

Although employees need to pay their bills at the end of the week, finances are not what consumes most of their thoughts. People have a primal need to feel loved and cared for by the circle of people in their lives. This important need isn’t put on hold when they leave their homes each morning; employers are part of their wellness circle.

 • Communication is key. Do you talk to each of your employees on a regular basis? Do you have employees you have never spoken to? Making time for regular communication with every employee is one of the best investments you can make in your business, either directly (preferable) or through management.
A heavy line between management and non-management is usually accompanied by a lack of direct communication, resulting in weaker relationships and decreased loyalty. Employees who feel disconnected from their employer are not as productive as employees who have built direct relationships with their superiors. Start casual conversations. Ask about their families. Ask what problems they deal with in their personal lives or with their jobs that could be improved. This effort will also reduce their stress and keep them wanting to work for you.

Think twice about cutting benefits. An easy school of thought is that if, for example, you cut an employee benefit that costs the company $10,000 a year, you just saved the company $10,000, right? Not usually. The initial savings would be just one direct benefit of the change. However, when it comes to changes that directly affect employees, there are often numerous direct and indirect negative consequences for each decision. 

In the above example, if one employee decided the change was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” and decided to look for a new job, the company is now dealing with morale issues (which result in decreased productivity), plus the expense of replacing that employee, which is typically 30 percent of an employee’s annual salary. With that one employee alone, the company just lost much more than the $10,000 it hoped to save.

Companies can actually improve their bottom line by increasing employee benefits, since it is likely to improve morale, resulting in increased productivity. In addition, better benefits reduce employee stress, which costs employers, on average, $2,500 per year/per employee. The list goes on and on.

Decisions that directly affect employees have substantial ties to employee wellness, which need to be considered, since employee unwellness is extremely costly.

Make FUN part of the culture. One of the reasons many employees can’t wait for closing time each day is that, compared to their social lives, the company culture is not fun and relaxed. After spending several hours in a mentally and physically stifling environment, employees begin to watch the clock and productivity suffers.

An environment that allows employees to “be themselves” and spend a reasonable amount of time socializing to the point of finding things to laugh about, will result in a financial return for the employer. Healthy relationships that are built during these times, the networking, and the conversations that result in problem-solving are important elements of a winning company culture. These regular mental and physical breaks also allow employees to return to their duties refreshed and ready to make your business more successful.

Start the New Year with a new way of doing business. The best recipe for company success is the partnership you build with your employees. The more you give, the more you will receive. 

Carol Phillips is the owner of Health Design, which helps companies reduce costs and increase productivity through a new approach to worksite wellness. She can be reached at carol@HealthDesignNH.com. 

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