Helping People Love Their Workplace
Over my almost 37 years of being a banker, I have worked at five different institutions. They range from one of the largest financial institutions in the world, to a very small, family owned bank. Each of the banks had its own way of treating their employees. And each had a different way of treating officers vs. non-officers. For example, my very first banking job was at Toy National Bank in Sioux City. I started out in a clerical job, eventually working my way up to a junior lending officer.
When I was named an officer, life immediately got better. For example, instead of paying for parking in a ramp 4 blocks away, I now got free, underground parking next to the bank. My wife and I got invited to an officer only Christmas party with great food and a nice present. The regular employees were treated fairly, but received no perks at all. But that bank failed shortly after I left (not my doing) and I moved to Davenport to join the Brenton Bank there.
At Brenton, everyone had free parking, although the officer parking lot was across the street and the employee lot was a block away. During my 7 years there I made some great friends and learned that while officers did sometimes get perks, everyone was equally recognized and treated fairly. One of my favorite memories was walking to a neighborhood bar on random Fridays after work hanging out with officers and non-officers alike. Usually the officers bought the first pitcher of beer. Because we received more perks, there was an unwritten and unspoken expectation that we should share those gifts. It started at the top and spread from there.
In 2001 Brenton Bank was sold to a large national bank and my life changed again. Most of the decisions made at the national level were to help increase “shareholder value.” I am not sure if I always understood how the changes would actually improve shareholder value, but I knew that many decisions didn’t please all the employees. It took me three years and two different jobs to realize that the way I wanted to do banking and the way banking was being done were not compatible. I was unhappy and unproductive and needed to change jobs.
I recently came across an article written by Brigette Hyacinth, an author and expert on leadership and management. In the article she states “If you don’t show appreciation to those that deserve it, they’ll learn to stop doing the things you appreciate.” She goes on to cite research conducted by Globoforce, a provider of social recognition solutions, where they found that 78% of workers would work harder if their efforts were better recognized and appreciated.
That number might be inflated because Globoforce wants to sell systems to help recognize and reward employees, but the point is still valid. Dale Carnegie said “People work for money but go the extra mile for praise, recognition and rewards.” Do I detect a theme here? What are you doing to recognize the people that work in your company? If you are the boss, you have a responsibility to make sure it happens. Even if you are not the boss, you can take 2 minutes and tell a co-worker how much you appreciate their work. Do it with sincerity and on a regular basis and I will bet you will see positive changes. Both in people and profits.
Author and speaker Simon Sinek might have said it best; “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” Help people in your company feel like they are family, and it will pay off in happier, more productive employees and that will improve the bottom line.