Occasionally, I hear a story that just makes me stop dead in my tracks, and say, “Really? What were they thinking?” These stories come in different varieties, from not watching market trends to see new technologies, allowing complacency in the workplace drive them to be obsolete, or not investing in employees because they might leave. This week I am going to share one of these stories with you.
What were they thinking?
I had a meeting with someone that was referred to me for some advice. He explained that at his company they just survived a major crisis. In the middle of the crisis his boss quit, leaving him to pull the pieces together. After several weeks of long days with no breaks, they resolved the crisis. It was a tremendous learning experience with the most important lesson that he didn’t want to do that again. He was seeking advice on what he could do to make sure he, and the company, didn’t have to go through that again.
My advice was to take some training to learn how to recognize and prevent a crisis like this from happening again. He wasn’t sure if his company would be able or willing to pay for the training, so he decided he’d cover the training if his company would give him the flexibility to make up his hours for the time he was missing. Essentially, he wasn’t asking for the company to invest any money, just some flexibility. They refused to give him the flexibility because they were afraid if he learned more, and became more valuable, he’d leave. That response never works, and here are a few of the impacts of this type of thinking.
That kind of response is a morale killer. Morale in the workplace has a bigger impact on profitability than you might think. Low morale kills creativity and problem-solving thinking. In cultures where morale is low, people are willing to accept the status quo, and think they can’t affect the outcome and just try to survive. This is what happened at the company I described. Low morale causes management to think only about surviving, and they can’t see the benefit of avoiding problems in the future. Create a culture with high morale, and you’ll no longer be facing the same problems. Your company will switch from survival mode to thriving mode.
What do you think happens when you tell an employee that they don’t matter? How does that impact productivity? It kills it! At different points in my career, I had felt that my efforts were unappreciated, even if I’d go above and beyond to achieve a significant accomplishment. As a result, I withdrew. I lost all motivation and my productivity plummeted. I did enough to stay out of trouble, but when it was 5:00, I was out the door. Therefore, I have observed top producers quickly turn into mediocre performers when they are not appreciated. On the other hand, according to Gallup, companies with high morale (highly engaged) were 17% more productive than companies with low engagement.
Loss of productivity and low morale are probably the best scenarios you can hope for. High turnover is extremely expensive to a company. It’s no secret that in today’s economy highly skilled workers are in high demand. There are more jobs available than people to fill them. Also, according to that same Gallup Report, 51% of the American workforce is looking for a new job! According to a paper written by the Center for American Progress, replacing skilled workers could cost up to 216% of an employee salary. And in every case, where I have observed low morale, there is an issue with employee turnover!
This Week’s Challenge
It is no secret that the secret to growing your company is by growing your people. Invest in your people and you’ll create a loyal, productive, and profitable team.
If you would like to discuss more ways to help your business grow or if you feel you have a specific problem that needs to be addressed, please reach out to me.