You hire someone to work for you. They do things that you tell them to do, and you give them money. Pretty simple. And while there was often more to it than that in the past, after a few decades of downturn-inspired rightsizing, it often doesn’t go much further. Lifetime employment is a thing of our parent’s generation – or even our grandparents’ in some cases. Companies simply can’t afford to guarantee that they will keep an employee on forever regardless of the business climate. Several dramatic downturns left companies struggling to simply remain alive while trying to adjust to lower sales and lower margins.
The flip side of this is that employees in general have been left without the level of corporate loyalty that their parents had. You are probably not going to be at your current company for life. It’s probably not even a long term relationship and more and more full time employees started looking more like contract workers. Sure, you are part of a team, but if the company doesn’t go the extra mile for you, why should you go the extra mile for the company?
But this is short sighted. A happy employee is a productive employee. An employee that believes that the company cares about them is more likely to put in that extra time or deliver that extra inspiration, even when the absence would not be noticed. Of course the economy mandates that people get hired and they get laid-off. That’s an unfortunate fact of the times we live in. But a smart company, one that wants its employees to give 110 percent, is going to show that they do actually care about their employees and is willing to also give 110 percent back (at least as much as possible).
And the interesting thing is that this doesn’t have cost a lot. It’s often the little things that can mean so much because it shows that they care. Employees working late and miss dinner? Spend a few dollars and have some instant soups or snacks in the convenience area. If you’re getting 2 extra hours out of someone, isn’t that worth spending $1.00 on a snack? If the whole team is working late, send out for a pizza. What do the employees make per hour? How much did that pizza cost? Do the math.
Ironically, there are things that companies can do to help their employees that will actually end up saving them money as well. Look at how many health insurance plans now cover health club memberships. Because, oh gosh, they finally figured out that it’s cheaper to keep people healthy in the first place than giving them medical care after they get sick.
One interesting benefit that companies can give their employees is access to free shredding. It’s an extra perk that makes the employee’s life a little easier by freeing them from having to hand feed a home shredder with bills, receipts, and endless pre-approved credit card applications. And it really doesn’t cost the company much – shredding services just aren’t that expensive, especially considering what they offer.
And it’s even actually in the best interest of the company to do it as well. Why is that? Think about it: an employee gets sloppy with their financial information because the shredder at home is sometimes just too much trouble. So, they toss out a few envelopes with credit card applications or even that pile of tax documents from 10 years ago. Hey, no one ever really gets that information stolen, do they? Turns out they do. In fact, I met someone just last week who had exactly that happen to him. He thought, “It can’t happen to me,” and got lazy with his information. Someone went through his trash and got enough information to begin stealing his identity. Turns out this caused more than a little trouble because he was the communications officer on a nuclear submarine and had all kinds of secret clearance. When the Navy found out someone was forging his identity, they were not happy about it.
So, even if you are not someone with super-secret clearance, fixing identity theft is no small matter. Many, many phone calls, emails and letters are needed to begin to undo the damage. Most of these calls will be made to other businesses. During work hours. When you would normally be working. Get the picture? You can end up losing days or even weeks of work time trying to put your world back in order. Not good for you, not good for your employer.
So maybe giving employees access to free shredding isn’t just a nice thing for the company to do, it’s also something that ultimately helps them as well. You shred everything you should, no one steals your identity, and you don’t have to spend work time recovering.
Being nice to your employees isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also good business. Loyalty begets loyalty. So buy someone a pizza next time they work late. Give them a gym membership. Throw a few snacks in the common area. And let them bring in their documents to toss into your shred bins. Everyone wins – except the thieves, of course.