Friday, December 02, 2011

How hard do you work for your employees?

Do you work hard for your employees? Do you invest in them? Do you address their needs even before they complain about them? Or do you pretty much ignore them until they complain loud enough to be annoying? Are they resources or people to you?

I have seen many organisations with management who expect a great deal from their employees in the form of dedication, motivation, engagement, etc. but which fail to put any effort at all into improving the daily life of their employees. If even the smallest improvements in your working conditions are a battle, if your company merely points to even worse employers when you ask for a bigger screen or a height adjustable table, why should you then do more than the bare minimum for your employer? If, on the other hand, your employer really invests in it's staff. If they show that they truly value their employees and want to ensure they have the best possible working conditions, would you not then also be prepared to go that extra mile?

Your employees stare at their computer screens 8 hours ever day, why would you not give them the best screens possible and reduce the risk for permanent sight problems as much as you can? Sure, if your company is struggling financially it may not have the cash for everyone to have a height adjustable table, and I am sure your employees would understand this. But, if your company has a healthy profit-margin, if it is growing and expanding, then why would it not be wise to invest in it's most valuable resource - it's staff?

I see too much time spent on demanding more from company employees and too little time truly investing in them and making the workplace as enjoyable and creative a place as possible. I have never seen a craftsman with cheaper tools than a normal hobby builder would have at home, but many developers that I know personally work in very profitable companies and have much better equipment at home than on their desks at work (and they haven't bought strange or exotic hardware but just went to their local Apple store). This is shameful and an embarrassment to our industry.

If we want our employees show loyalty, commitment, creativity and to really be prepared to walk that extra mile then we need them to love working where they are. To make them love their job or their company then you have to be prepared to invest in them, even when it isn't absolutely necessary. You have to show your employees that you truly value them as people and that you, too, are willing to make a commitment to them. A commitment to give them the best possible working conditions that you can. A commitment to involve them in decisions that have an effect on their daily lives. A commitment to see them as people and not resources.

An example of great offices: ATG offices in Solvalla, Sweden
© Jason Strong (courtesy of Note Design Studio)
An example of great offices: ATG offices in Solvalla, Sweden
© Jason Strong (courtesy of Note Design Studio)
An example of great offices: ATG offices in Solvalla, Sweden
© Jason Strong (courtesy of Note Design Studio)