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As important as leadership is in an organization, we need our people. Without a doubt, they are essential contributors to our success.
Employees' effectiveness at work depends on their capabilities and productivity. Capabilities derive from qualities and abilities within a person and will mostly stay consistent. However, productivity gets impacted by many internal and external factors like emotional condition, mental state, physical condition, ability to concentrate, etc., which can result from their life situations.
Now, this sounds like a concern area for us, doesn't it? As an employer and leader, if productivity is something that impacts us, then the factors that affect productivity are our concern too.
It is crucial to understand that we all have a life outside the workplace that affects our work. Concerns in our personal life often impact our effectiveness at work. It is no different for every person working in our enterprises. Our people's personal lives can and do affect work performance.
But are Problems in their Personal Lives our Problem?
Clearly. But, as employers and leaders, are we responsible for addressing what affects them? Maybe, maybe not, but understanding can go a long way. We rely on our people to execute our strategy, and if we understand their context, even statistically, we have a chance to positively impact their engagement in our workplace.
Why is it Important to Understand your Employees' Concerns?
Because our assumptions are almost always wrong. We make assumptions based on our own personal contexts. For example, if you are dealing with an employee who is chronically late, you might assume they are unmotivated. However, it could be for very different reasons, for example: Does she have a reliable mode of transportation, or do public transportation schedules not align with her work schedule? Maybe it is because her kid's school starts after her shift begins, and she has no one else to bring her kid to school while she comes to work?
If we ask and listen to their concerns, we are in a much better position to respond in a productive way. It is in our best interest to understand the complexity in our people’s lives that may prevent them from doing their best at work.
But is Understanding their Context Enough?
Understanding helps us, but that does not solve anything. The problem remains. So, what do we do? Our enterprises are not social service agencies. We can’t make policies based on every person’s specific situation. That is why I helped start The SOURCE. It is in fact possible, through third-party collaboration, to go beyond understanding and actually set up a structure designed to help our people address the complexities and barriers in their lives that can affect their engagement at work.
Any of us, with unsolved problems, will struggle to bring our best to our work. And let us be practical; we all have problems. Some are manageable, and some need additional support. So, ignoring this fact and seeking people who don’t bring complex lives to work, is not a sustainable (or practical) solution. So, if we, as employers and leaders, can be a part of designing a benefit that can provide support for our people, we gain their trust, loyalty, effectiveness, and a more stable workforce for our organization.
We Need to Invest in our People!
As business owners and leaders, we have the opportunity to have a positive impact on the people who work for us. How we respond to that opportunity will define the culture of our enterprises.
Designing our workplaces and benefits in a way that can holistically address many of the complexities in our people’s lives will go a long way in our ability to impact engagement, productivity, and attrition. Going beyond the traditional way is the need of the hour. We live in a world that is becoming more complex and changing rapidly. This is as relevant for people who work for us as it is for us.
Understanding and addressing the concerns of our workforce will not just help them but will also positively impact our enterprise and our community. As we derive benefits from the community, in which we operate our business, building a more stable workforce is a great way to give back to our community and make it more sustainable.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Peters is the Chief Executive Officer of Butterball Farms, Inc., which was nationally recognized as one of The Best and Brightest Companies to Work For(R) from 2018 to 2020 and is America's leading producer of culinary butter and margarine. Author of the book "The Source". Recognized by numerous companies from Ernst and Young to McDonalds for his leadership, Peters is an engaging speaker and storyteller who has addressed TEDx and other audiences. He lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Recognized by numerous companies from Ernst & Young to McDonalds for his leadership, Peters is an engaging speaker and storyteller who has addressed TED-x and other audiences. He lives in Grand Rapids with his daughter and dog and is an avid diver, boater, biker, and skier.