Why you should put your employees first

Why you should put your employees first

As an organisational leader, the tendency can be to place all your efforts on financial growth. After all, the traditional reason for building a business is revenue. We have all heard of the business mantra ‘put the customer first’, but in the process of doing so, employee well-being usually takes a backseat.

So what if we did the opposite, and placed the care internally?

Some leaders are breaking out of the traditional business approach and are prioritising employee satisfaction and well-being.

Could putting your employees first actually benefit you and your business?

Could prioritising your employees help you grow?

Simon Sinek certainly believes so. In his book Leaders Eat Last, he discusses the importance of delivering empathy in the workplace. He believes that leaders should aim to put their employees first and, most importantly, not expect any recognition for it.

Ways of putting an employee first can include taking the time to listen to queries and concerns, introducing mental-health and well-being sessions, and focussing on team-building. It can also include considering the employees personal life and providing support – extra holiday days, for example.

When leaders listen to their employees’ concerns, ideas and comments, they are showing that they are cared about and valued. This should happen regardless of job role or status.

The result of these behavioural changes in a workplace is invaluable. Employees:

  • Work with more vigour, dedication and energy
  • Are more likely to work overtime
  • Work with more speed
  • Give more attention to detail
  • Work extra hard to keep your trust
  • Remain loyal to the company resulting in lower employee turnover rates

With the whole workforce having this mindset, the business will soon feel like an inclusive family. In return for prioritising their well-being, the workforce will respond with added enthusiasm for their roles.

The workforce will feel proud to work for your business and consequently your business will thrive.

This was certainly the case for Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller. As a leader, Chapman channelled his energy into creating an inclusive and inspiring environment for his employees. He did this by trusting in his employees – for example, he removed the locks on the spare machine parts, showing that management trusted the workers. He treated all employees the same, with the same freedom – they could all use the free phone whenever they liked, for instance.

As a result, Chapman was responsible for a $40 million increase in revenue. Often, employees want to remain for many years in companies such as Chapman’s, meaning less money is spent on training new employees up for the role.

For both large and small companies this presents a fantastic opportunity coupled with its own challenges.

Understandably, some organisational leaders may feel a flurry of doubts when considering this attitude towards employees. This is especially the case when the company in question does not have a dedicated HR department.

For smaller companies they may not have the cash flow and free time for well-being sessions and team-bonding activities.

For larger companies, putting employees first requires a lot of trust. In scenarios where leaders do not personally know their employees very well, placing a lot of effort and time into them can feel like a risky venture.

With pros and cons to it, there is no doubt that putting employee satisfaction first is an idea to discuss and consider carefully. However, from our point of view and experience, it is evident that prioritising employee well-being can have a profound effect on a business. Dedicated, satisfied and loyal employees can do wonders for your business, and is well-worth the effort.

Source: Sinek (Portfolio Penguin 2017)