Ask yourself this...what type of work environment do you feel suits an employee the best? Seriously, take some time to think about that. I can tell you that in my opinion a great work environment is one that allows its employees to have a sense of freedom, ownership and fun. Employees need to feel wanted and cared for. Employees want to feel relaxed and playful. Employees want to work hard and be rewarded for their commitment and loyalty to a company. Doesn't that sound like a great work environment and job? Of course it does because it meets your most basic needs as a person. Does a bottom line based job provide these opportunities? No and that's why that culture is not conducive to long term employment. The bottom line mentality turns employees off and eventually pushes them out the door. Great companies recognize people are your best product.
Take for instance a company like Southwest Airlines. Despite these rough economic times Southwest Airlines is still seeing tremendous growth and expansion. This is due to Herb Kelleher, co-founder of Southwest Airlines and his team's philosophy towards making Southwest a success. Check out this excerpt from an article in International Herald Tribune in 2008 in which Herb Kelleher was interviewed about the success of Southwest Airlines:
“Over the years, whenever reporters would ask him the secret to Southwest’s success, Kelleher had a stock response. “You have to treat your employees like customers,” he told Fortune in 2001. “When you treat them right, then they will treat your outside customers right. That has been a powerful competitive weapon for us.” As he stepped away from the company this week, his line didn’t change. “We’ve never had layoffs,” he told me the day before the annual meeting, sitting on the couch of the single messiest executive office I’ve ever seen. “We could have made more money if we furloughed people. But we don’t do that. And we honor them constantly. Our people know that if they are sick, we will take care of them. If there are occasions or grief or joy, we will be there with them. They know that we value them as people, not just cogs in a machine.”
Or take the mentality of a billion dollar company such as Zappos.com. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, provides powerful insight into the unique atmosphere of happiness involved in working for Zappos while taking questions from an audience.
Hseih goes on to say in the article that his philosophy is that he hires employees to stay, not leave. He also says that employees stay and contribute to a company positively if they have constant growth in the company.
Zappos and Southwest Airlines are two companies who do a great job putting employees first versus having the bottom line come first. While the bottom line first mentality may increase your profits it will decrease employee dissatisfaction, which will in turn lead to high turnover rates.
Speaking of high turnover, if you are part of a company that constantly has high turnover rates and you are starting work with 10-15 other people then run like hell! Companies like this foster the bottom line mentality rather than the employee centered mentality. For all of you fitness professionals out there think about personal training in commercial/sales based companies like Equinox and 24 Hour Fitness. In those jobs it is hit your quota or you are fired. What's up with that? Or what's up with selling supplements and products that you don't believe in? And you wonder why there are always job postings for work available at those places. It is not because they are great places to work. It is because they are always firing people or people are quitting because the culture and condition of employment just flat out stink.
When you walk in to interview for a job you want to hear that employees love what they do. You want to hear that employees feel cared for and that fun is not encouraged, but required along with hard work and dedication. You want to know that when you come to work you can be yourself and not a fake representation of yourself in order to accomplish your work responsibilities.
I have made it my mission as the General Manager of Club Ridges to instill an employee first approach to our business model. I truly believe our successful bottom line and efficiency is because we hire the right people and make the environment fun yet challenging for them. I thought I would share some things with you, the reader, about how we have become a very successful club and how that has very little to do with focusing on the bottom line. Here's some things that work for Club Ridges to make our employees feel wanted and cared for:
We have worked very hard to create a fun and detail driven work environment at Club Ridges. One way we have done this is by providing expectations of the execution of job duties. Employees know what the level of detail and precision that is expected of them yet they also understand that they have the freedom to improvise job duties as needed based on the situations that arise at the club.
2. Bi-Weekly Meetings
Our management team at Club Ridges spends over a fourth of our time having agenda based meetings on a bi-weekly basis with our staff. In these meetings we discuss plans for improvement and encourage and praise our staff for providing great services to the residents of the community we work in. Communication is a must in any relationship and so is face time. You just have to have that with your employees. Additionally, we always end off the meeting by asking our employees to evaluate how management is doing in our jobs and how we can improve our performance. We just can't spin the mirror in their direction...it has to be spun our way as well.
3. Scheduled Fun Time
Jamee and I plan and personally finance two large Club Ridges employee gatherings/parties each year. Spending our own money to promote fun and happiness amongst employees is something we love to do. We want to invest into our awesome people who make our lives easier by doing a great job at work. The gatherings also create a wonderful sense of camaraderie and joy between employees. Additionally, we regularly meet up with staff outside of work at happy hours in Summerlin as another way to strengthen the bonds between us . Much like Tony Hseih's model, we believe that great work environments are also formed outside of the work environment.
We conduct a monthly professional development with our personal training staff (which comprises most of our staff) to make sure that they are up to date on the latest peer-reviewed research in the fitness, health and wellness industry. We believe employees who have educational opportunities at work feel more confident in their job duties.
5. "All In"
While this may not be possible at some jobs due to various rules, etc. we promote an "all in" approach with our employees. This approach is simple...become a part of the lives of the people we serve. As long as they are executing their job duties as expected, our employees are highly encouraged to do things like take group exercise classes with residents and personal train each other at work. While some facilities frown upon things like this, we believe that customers and employees need to develop trust and communication between each other. If we talk about being fit and also show them we are doing that with each other and with them then we become even more credible to residents. In fact, we regularly have residents ask employees to take class with them or even sit and have coffee them while discussing current events. We go "all in" and it has really created a unique and rewarding culture for employees and residents.
I truly believe this approach has worked tremendously for us at Club Ridges/WTS International. I am happy to say that we rarely have any job openings at Club Ridges! People rarely leave once they start and if they do leave it is because they were promoted within our company or moved on to another great opportunity for themselves. I want that for all of you. Find a work place that will not only love your work skills, but you as a person as well.
I know it can be scary. Times are tough out there and jobs are hard to come by and by all means be smart. However, don't wither away in a situation that will suck the life out of your love for what you do and don't stay around for a pot of monetary gold. When I moved from Kansas back to Vegas in May 2007 I was flat out broke. I'm talking only a few hundred dollars to my wife and I's account. I had a decent job financially back in Kansas, but was very unhappy with the work environment I was in. I was not cared for and I was disrespected regularly. I had enough of it and sacrificed big time in order to find a great work environment. I took over a $15,000 pay cut and started entry level with WTS. However, I didn't care about the money because for once I was finally happy in a professional job that really cared about me. Over the years I have been able to move up rather quickly in a company that rewards you for great performance and having a caring personality. I can't see working for another company other than WTS.
I'll leave you with this...a great example of how the bottom line and people who promote it break people in jobs. My wife had a great job and the previous management really praised her efforts yet challenged her enough to keep her interested on a daily basis. New management came on board and proceeded to decrease staff morale and focus on numbers and money. What was once a great job turned into a nightmare all because of a change in who ran the facility and their bottom line mentality. Recently, my wife put in her two weeks notice at that job. However, while she was doing that she was offered a new job in a smaller and less fancy work environment. What was fun to hear was when my wife accepted the job offer from the lady who interviewed her the lady screamed on the phone in joy because she was so happy that my wife was coming to work at their facility.
Now that's feeling wanted. That's feeling cared for and when my wife talked further with the lady she said "we have a great team here and we get along very well. It is a challenging job, but we all stick together and help each other." Don't you want someone to fall in love with your employment at a job? Don't you want some to jump up and down because you work at their place? Of course you do! And guess what...if you commit to a employee centered approach your bottom line will become healthier because happy employees help keep customers happy as well.
Until the next time!