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Make Your Employees No. 1

An exclusive.

CHICAGO — A government manager seeking help for himself and his organization contacted me the other day. Because of recent drastic budget cuts and subsequent mandatory furloughs for employees (i.e., about 22 days of unpaid leave each year), this organization clearly needs to make major adjustments to its structure and processes and essentially recreate itself so it can operate successfully under a revised mission.

I was astonished to learn from this person that the organization is already taking many steps to begin addressing its challenges.

Concurrent with steps to obtain assistance in handling the business aspects, it is providing a program to support its employees’ personal concerns. Specifically, it has scheduled a series of workshops open to all employees that addresses a number of issues of concern to them in these challenging times.

Topics include making your family No. 1 in your life, how to manage resources, understanding credit scores, reducing stress, and communicating with your kids. Clearly, this organization understands that employees who are worried about personal issues at home cannot possibly perform at optimal levels at work.

Why does placing a high priority on employees’ personal concerns make good business sense? A concept called direct perceived organizational support provides a compelling answer.

Employees who perceive a high level of organizational support and honesty believe that senior management really cares about their personal well-being. Research demonstrates that such individuals reciprocate by performing at a higher level, by being more forgiving of organizational missteps, and by going above and beyond what is required in their jobs.

So, in addition to responding to their employees’ concerns in a very human way, this organization has made an intelligent business move that will serve it well long after the economy has recovered.

Employees who have not had a raise or bonus in years due to economic conditions find it difficult to understand why certain employees travel all the time, or why capital investments are made that never gain any cost benefit. It’s not that the aforementioned are not required, but management should be able to communicate these issues before employees start asking the difficult questions.

Let me point out one issue that can certainly damage the morale of an organization. When a workplace announcement is made, the last thing that employees want to hear about is the achievement of someone in the higher echelon of their organization.

Employees do make the difference, no matter what type of organization you work in. The workforce needs to hear or read about what they—you know, the folks in the trenches making the everyday sacrifices—have done.

Surround yourself with talent and you will achieve success. And make sure your organization is assisting your employees in becoming fully successful.

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Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected].