Treat your employees right!

I was going to save this topic for later, but I couldn’t help myself. I feel so crazy passionate about this right now, and I can’t keep it in anymore!

Everyone is always talking about trying to find the perfect business model; how to make their business run smoother and more efficiently. I’m definitely no expert on this, but I’ve had plenty of experience with different kinds of companies both big and small, and I can tell you that there is one commonality that I’ve found with all very successful businesses — they treat their employees right!

I’m not just talking about giving employees decent salaries and benefits; those are super barebones essentials (or they should be, anyway). I’m talking about good pay, comprehensive benefits, unexpected perks, internal PR, and other incentives. It’s amazing how the way a business treats their employees can really be directly related to its success.

The concept isn’t exactly brain science, but obviously most companies think it is. Think about it! When was the last time you heard about someone talking about their job, and you thought to yourself, “Oh, man — I’d kill for a job like that!” Not very often. And if you have heard about an amazing job like that recently, what were you so impressed about? I’m willing to bet that it was the perks that business’ employees enjoy, even over the kind of work that they do.

A few months ago, I was visiting my friend Angela at her apartment in Saratoga. She had been raving for months about her job as an Assistant Editor with McMurry, a marketing communications company based out of Phoenix, AZ, and we went to visit her office to see what the fuss was all about. When I walked in, I could barely believe my eyes — the place was beautiful! High ceilings, bright colors, and friendly photos were everywhere we looked. A kitchen with stainless steel appliances and an espresso machine — and free espresso pods! — completed the sheer Utopian feel of the place.

What’s more, the things Angela was saying about McMurry as we walked around were incredible. She pointed out a wire sculpture featuring the company’s mission statement, mentioning that the IT guy made it for the office in his spare time. She steered us past a large room down the hallway with clothes piled up on each table, telling us about the clothing swap the office had held last week — employees brought in unwanted clothing to swap with other employees, and all the leftovers went to charity.

“This is where we do yoga every Thursday morning,” she said casually as we passed a large empty space on the hardwood floors.

Although I was totally psyched that my friend had found such an amazing job, I felt the green monster begin to creep in a little bit. At the time, I was a reporter at a regional company (the Business that Shall not be Named, or “BSN” as I will refer to it in the future), and life wasn’t exactly picture perfect. I was making $350 a week and working over 60 hours writing practically an entire newspaper on my own, and I received no benefits: no insurance, no sick days, no vacation, no incentives, nothing. I spent easily over $75 to $100 a week in gas driving to and from interviews (a big number for my little Mercury Tracer), and was constantly being called into work on the weekends and late on weeknights. I was always checking my phone for messages from my boss at the dreaded BSN, and thinking angry thoughts about how I didn’t deserve to be treated so poorly…but I needed a job.

The turnover rate at BSN, I had learned earlier, was just over three months for a reporter. Three months. This is barely enough time for an employee to get settled into a job, much less to find out that they hate it enough to leave. The worst part? Almost every person who left their job at BSN went into another field besides journalism! The place turned passionate writers into word hating Scrooges. I was one of the lucky ones to maintain my interest in writing when I left, but that didn’t stop me from applying to a job at a local day care just to get out of there. BSN was, and quite frankly still is, a place for writers who are in between jobs to go and get work.  A jobless shelter, if you will.

All of this was bouncing around in my head as Angela finished up her tour with a cheerful “And these are the leftover beer bottles from our weekly happy hour!”  …and less than a minute later, my phone rang with a call from my boss at BSN (I kid you not.)

The only thing I could think about was what McMurry’s turnover rate must be.  I’m going to wager a guess of at least 3 to 5 years for new people, and maybe up to 20 years for people who stay beyond that mark.  Let’s compare that to three months.  Do you think BSN employees care about the company?  Do you think they feel a personal investment and connection with the company?   And, as a result, do you think their product is the best it could be?  Far from it, and I can attest for that.  In the mean time, McMurry employees are voluntarily working late and taking time out of their own personal lives to create projects for the company they work for.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why — McMurry takes care of their employees.

That being said — I know these are very extreme examples of rewarding your employees vs. forgetting about your employees.  My point is that if you treat your employees well, they will treat your company well…and therefore, you’ll have a better product.  It’s easy.

So if you’re a business owner or HR person who has just happened upon my little blog, I know I’m not a professional — but please take my advice.  Work on your company from the inside out!  The business world would be so much better if companies really did that.  I think a business is just like a person.  You can attract people to you with a beautiful outward appearance, but keeping people interested in what you do takes more than cover-up and empty promises.


6 Comments so far
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Hear hear! The way most jobs are these days, we all mayaswell be in prison, where at least the food and utilities are covered.

Comment by Phil


Comment by sopranogrl22

great post! i’m going to be a graduate soon, and where i live, it’s an employer’s market. which means, fresh graduates are often exploited because they lack experience and need to get their first job quick to start paying bills. there are many graduates getting low pay and working overtime without overtime pay. i know what i’m capable of and what i’m worth, so i would find it hard to settle for less. at the same time, i’d need a job soon and i hate to think that just because i need one i’d have to settle for less. 😦 i’m a very loyal person by nature and love routine, so if i can find a job i enjoy and an employer who respects and appreciates me as an employee i could work there for years, if not my entire working life!

Comment by sulz

Thanks, sulz! I think it might be an employer’s market everywhere, actually — we’re all kids of boomers, so there’s tons of us out there looking for jobs right now. Try and get a job as soon as you can, but make sure you know exactly what you want before you go into the job market — and ask your prospective employers lots of questions!! That’s my advice. =)

Comment by sopranogrl22

Having been in your position just over a year ago, I totally hear where you are coming from, sulz. I must say, I agree wholeheartedly with our blog hostess. I’d suggest not settling for the first job that comes your way or that seems like it might be okay. You have skills employers want and there WILL be other options and other offers. If you can financially handle it, don’t take a job until you have found one that you’re absolutely in love with. Anything less is not worth your time. The hard-working college grad deserves more. You deserve more. It’s just that simple.

Comment by Angela

On a lighter note, Laur, your “jobless shelter” quote is hi-LAR-ious. And of course, I love the shameless plugs to McMurry. 😉

Comment by Angela

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