Mari Ryan: I’d like you to think back to your first job. Your first corporate job. What was that job like? I was a clerk coding premium payments at a life insurance company in Hartford Connecticut. It wasn’t a very intellectually challenging job and it wasn’t very stimulating. But I learned pretty quickly that there was something that was really special about this place that I was working, and that I was given something (along with the other 1,800 other employees in the home office of this company) that was indeed very special.
What I found was that when I wanted to get my teeth cleaned I just made an appointment and I never left the building. And on my lunch hour, I would go to the bowling alley and there I would bowl with my colleagues.
Now, that’s not all of the things you find in the typical work place. This was very early in my career and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I didn’t really know what my skills were. I had the opportunity to be able to do things like join a Toastmasters group where I learned to first speak, and be able to do some career testing and get some guidance on some guidance on what my strengths and skills were. That was really meaningful for me. What this organization with doing was they weren’t just giving me a paycheck and benefits, they were looking after my well-being.
Since it was my first job, I thought that all companies were like this! It wasn’t until later in my career when I worked at all different kinds of organizations of all different sizes that I really came to appreciate how special this work situation was. The leaders in this organization really understood the essence of well-being, what that means from a business perspective, and how that translates to business success. They understood the well-being imperative.
Today more organizations are coming to this realization. They’re seeing the connection between the well-being of their employees and their workforce, and profitability of their business. Businesses profit from engaged employees. 70% of the workforce is disengaged according to Gallup research. Think about what that means from lost productivity and our ability to be able to compete globally when that many people are disengaged.
Businesses profit from happy employees. When employees are happy they are more likely to stay with the organization. Turnover is very costly, it can cost as much as 150% of a given salary, and even higher at higher levels of the organization.
Businesses profit from healthy employees. We all hear about health care all the time. It represents 18% of our gross domestic product. It is a big deal in this country. And yet, what we’re not hearing about is a change from the model that we use in the United States, which is an employer funded model. That’s not going away. So employers need to be concerned about the health and well-being of their workforce. They’ve got to control those costs.
So what can you do in your organization? What can you do to bring well-being to the forefront and make that connection between well-being and profitability? Start with culture. It needs to start with looking at the culture of your organization. Where it’s just, “This is how we do business here. We care about our workforce, and we know that they are important to our ability to be able to be productive and meet our business goals.” Without that, you can’t achieve what you’re trying to achieve as business executives.
So just like my first job was so special for me, and where my employer really made that connection between the engagement of the workforce, the profitability of the workforce, and the success of the business. they understood the business imperative of well-being and I hope you will as well.
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