Over the past sixteen months, I, like many business owners, have had to make a lot of decisions–many of them focused on helping to maintain employee health and wellness while still keeping the business running as smoothly as possible through “unprecedented times.” Some of the decisions have been easy to make. Others have been much more difficult. Through all those decisions, however, I have endeavored to do one key thing: put people first.
Sometimes, everything else has to wait. There are times when the needs of the employee have to take precedence over work. By keeping that perspective at the forefront of my business, I’ve found that I’m in a much better position to make decisions that can both help those individuals and keep the agency growing.
I coined the term COVID-clarity to describe the issues that have been thrown into sharp relief as a result of the pandemic. COVID-19 has created some new issues. It has also made some of the issues that people have faced for years more starkly clear to others–especially those who may not have experienced those same issues in the past.
Equal opportunity for women in the workplace. Work/life balance. Reasonable accommodations for all employees. “Essential workers” and the wages they deserve, including the need for a living wage for all employees. All of these are issues that have shaped many employees’ lives for a long time–but suddenly, as a result of COVID-19, they are at the forefront of national media and receiving more attention than they ever have before.
Many of these issues can be addressed with a simple solution: putting humans first.
My Core Values
My three primary core values can be summed up simply: respect every human, be open to others’ opinions, and give back. With these core values at the forefront of everything I do, I believe that I can provide a better working experience for my employees–and in many cases, bettering myself and the agency at the same time.
Respect Every Human
My employees have the same rights and needs I do. They have the right to a reasonable income that will allow them to take care of their families. They deserve kindness. They deserve a human approach.
Not only that, employees need to be treated as human beings–and as adults who are capable of managing their own time and balancing their own needs. I don’t closely monitor every action that my employees take or the specific time that they’re spending on the clock. While I may occasionally conduct a check-in to get a better gauge of what they’re accomplishing and if there was anything I could help with. Additionally, I don’t call them to account for every delay or every moment spent on a non-work activity–and as a result, I’m in a better position to build employee trust and connection.
Be Open to Others’ Opinions
Sometimes, I’m wrong. While I make an effort to do my research and make informed decisions, there are times when I discover that I may not have the whole story, or that there is a better way to accomplish something. I make a point of staying open to others’ opinions.
At its core, that means listening to what others have to say: not just forming a rebuttal in my own mind as I wait for them to stop talking, but genuinely listening to their perspective and, in many cases, adapting my own worldview in order to accommodate new things that I’ve learned. Sometimes, it means making changes to my policies and practices in order to develop a better environment for the people who work with me.
Many business owners look at giving back as something that they do for their communities. While that is certainly a valid and even important approach, and I look for opportunities to give back on a regular basis, it’s equally important to look for little ways to give back to my employees.
Sometimes, that means giving them time. My employees will, at times, need to focus on their personal health–including mental health–or their family over the company. They may need minor accommodations that will allow them to do their jobs to the best of their abilities in spite of changing commitments in their personal lives. They may need assistance with accomplishing the tasks they usually take on with ease, especially during periods of difficulty or crisis.
By putting humans first–over the specific needs of the business–I find that I’m more easily able to deliver what my employees need.
The Importance of Kindness
At its core, the problem faced by many employees today is simply a lack of kindness in the workplace. Many employers don’t place their people first. They look at the bottom line first, their customers second, and their employees almost as an afterthought. I prefer, however, to turn that model on its head. Instead of focusing on the needs of customers and the bottom line over anything else, I start by taking the needs of my employees into consideration.
I get to know them. Who are they? What are their specific needs? How do they work best?
I listen to them. What challenges are they facing–and, equally importantly, how can I help them overcome those challenges? I find that most employees are willing to work, and work hard, if they’re given the support they need to overcome the obstacles standing in their way–and they’ll often work harder for an employer who will help them overcome those obstacles.
Finally, I give back to them where I can. They give their time, their creativity, and their talent to my company and my customers. In return, I can find ways to give back to them.
Kindness counts. It helps boost employee morale, encourages loyalty, and builds trust so that when employees do have problems, they’re more likely to notify me, instead of trying to hide them away.
Do you have a humans first, kindness-focused perspective in your workplace? If you want to learn more about ways you can improve your workplace environment, whether online or in person, contact me today to discuss how a change in perspective can transform your workplace permanently.