By Brad McAlister with Estelle Bah
It’s no secret that companies and organizations have long struggled with creating cultures that ultimately generate profit or, in non-profits, achieve a common goal. The giant missing piece is the greatest asset it possesses, its people. [CM1] Putting your employees and volunteers first is an easy thing to say but a complex strategy to adapt. However, it must be done, and it has to come from the very top or it will never be successful.
What does it mean to “put your people first”? The best summary I’ve ever heard is the Service Profit Chain by James Heskett & Earl Sasser which., To put it simply, loyal and happy employees = loyal customers = profit. There is a reason the customer service industry has incredible turnover: think restaurant and dinning workers. Their employers, in the US, don’t meet the basic reason we all have jobs: money. They depend on the customers to, essentially, subsidize their pay. We shouldn’t be ashamed of money being the main reason we have jobs, and employers shouldn’t be shy about it either. When the entire system is transparent, we can overcome the common taboos that we get stuck in and get down what matters and incentivizes us the most.
Have you ever heard the phrase “happy wife, happy life”? Well happy employees, happy company doesn’t rhyme, but it is just as true. There are countless ways companies and organizations have tried to create loyalty, but it's mostly done by just standing in the kiddy pool. You have to be all in, or it doesn’t work. We’ve all had enough Friday afternoon pizza parties after we just worked an 80 week. I won’t go too deep into a history lesson but sometime in the late 1970s to mid-1980s the US business strategy changed from prioritizing company profits over everything else. Executives and management were graded equally among profits, employee satisfaction surveys, employee pension growth, etc. Now almost every executive is graded on one thing alone, stock value or net profit. So what are employees asking for? In a recent study that surveyed 13,000 American employees, Gallup found that:
1. 64% of them wanted a significant increase of income or benefits
2. 61% wanted a better work-life balance and better personal wellbeing
3. 58% said they wanted to be allowed to do what they do best
4. 53% wanted better job security and stability
From an association management company standpoint, why is this important? Well, an AMC is a for-profit company, but our customers are non-profit organizations. Admittedly, we naturally have more of a moral buy-in with our customers because of the nature of their work but we still have customers who expect our employees to deliver for them, and employees who need to be empowered and want to deliver.
Do you want to survive the great employee migration of 2022? Make a significant investment into your employees’ long-term success [CM3] which will empower and excite them to think past the mundane tasks. Everyone wants to be part of a company that is transparent and is genuinely interested in their employees’ personal success. Your company doesn’t have to be perfect and nail everything right away, but listening is a great start.
Did you know, 74% of employees reported being more effective at their job when they felt heard. Here are some strategies that can help your employees, according to Forbes:
1. Encourage participation
2. Make introductions and create opportunities for visibility
3. Ask for feedback and ideas
A person’s place of employment should be where they do meaningful work with people they enjoy. This will be defined differently by different types of people. Nonprofit associations and for-profit companies should be transparent about their values, and hire only people who are good matches in order for everyone involved to be set up for success.