Employee Centric Does Not Mean What You Think It Means...

Oct 14, 2021

Confronting Today's Radical Truth About Employees

What The What Do You Mean...?

Think back and what is likely one of the biggest messages your family gave you about your future?

If it was at all like my recollection, it went something like this:

"Go to college and get a degree, find a good job and work there your entire career".

That was simply what everyone did back in the day.

I believe my generation was one of the 1st to say HELL NO, I am not working for 1 company for the rest of my life!

Thinking I would graduate Summa Cum Laude from Johnson & Wales University and being courted by The Walt Disney Company for my dream job with them and retiring there sure sounded good.

But then life happened.

I left Disney after just a year and in the 4 years following that, I had 4 different jobs before finally landing on one I stayed at for 8 years.

The recent past has taught many in business and industry there is a lot more work to be done and a lot different expectations from the workforce.

Employees: Investment and Return

I was told the story recently of a senior executive at a smaller company who was generally in shock when the corporate culture was changing to a more employee centric one and still there were team members invested in who were not necessarily interested in long term opportunities with them.

Now as I understand it, a lot was put into a new employee centric program including better benefits, more holidays and other perks so it can certainly be a little disconcerting to have this happen.

I mean you invest hard dollars in the programs and it feels like a gut punch to know it was unappreciated.

Or was it...?

When you invest in just about any traditional and many non-traditional investments, there are wild fluctuations in value: stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, crypto and list goes on and on.

Sometimes, your investments take you into the negative. If you had stock or real estate around 2008, you likely had some impact.

Just a few short years later, real estate was stronger than ever, and the stock market went on a Rocketship tear to the upside.

The market always cycles the talking heads tell us. But what about investments in our employees? Do employees in this context also cycle?

There are those who will argue investments in employees who leave have a financial impact on the bottom line and may have been a wasteful expense.

I say those people are wrong!

In my view, there are far too many intangibles which significantly outweigh the negative.

According to Cam Merritt in a published article on Chron, "Goodwill" on a company's balance sheet represents value that the company gained when it acquired another business but that it can't assign to any particular asset of that business.

It is my contention the acquisition of another company is not the driver of Goodwill but rather the acquisition of an asset. In this case, the asset is an employee.

So what value is a company gaining by investing in their team, their benefits and their culture?

Hard to say, but it is an effect felt by virtually every employee of a company so is it really a lost expense?

Many businesses care about their community and society as a whole. Does it hurt the community or society to invest in people with education, health benefits and critical thinking skills?

How about when a company has a charitable giving program where money and/or time are given to deserving causes and a team member leaves but still supports worthy efforts?

Some companies will often rehire a former employee down the road. Time can provide maturity and growth so does rehiring a former employee in an Employee Centric company benefit multiple parties?

I challenge and say, Yes, it does.

Employee Centric Does Not Mean...

So, what does being employee centric mean?

Conventional wisdom and leaders of today believe it means I get back 100% or more of what I give out.

In other words, when I invest $150,000 in XXXXX program, I expect:

  • Increased effort...
  • More productivity...
  • Improved loyalty...
  • Gratitude...
  • Measured Return On Investment(ROI)...

This thinking is rooted in a leadership strategy which has seen better days and perhaps has sailed away like a cruise ship when you return late from a self-scheduled excursion.

I learned many years ago when I was learning how to sell in a retail environment and was reinforced as I was discovering persuasion, the famous radio station WIIFM:

What's In It For Me

This strategy certainly works for the employee but what about the manager or owner?

New radio station: WIIFMT

What's In It For My Team

What does your team get out of these initiatives or being in an employee centric company EVEN if they leave you?

This is a long-term play without immediate rewards.

It reminds me of the oft quoted question: When is the past time to plant a tree?

Answer: 20 years ago

When is the 2nd best time to plant a tree?

Answer: TODAY

Go and plant your tree today and let your Employee Centric company flourish.