I often get asked about why I have chosen to dedicate my career to helping companies to become even better workplaces and the simple answer is: to help people across the globe be able to apply their natural gifts in an organization that helps them achieve their personal potential and experience a sense of “purpose.” In this scenario, people feel respected and in addition to giving more to the company, they are more likely to give more freely of themselves to their family, friends and society.
My father is my inspiration for my passion. Growing up, he was always so incredibly motivated to go above and beyond for his company, and he sustained this energy for more than 30 years. Day in and day out at the dinner table, he would share excitedly his ideas for how to improve things in his company to generate more sales and improve profits. And yet, never once, in his 30+ years was he asked to share his ideas, nor was his desire to give more ever embraced. Thankfully for his family’s sense of optimism, his enthusiasm never dulled, and he was convinced, tomorrow would be the day “management,” an undefined and elusive concept to all of us, would be open to him giving his personal best, in service of the company. Sadly, however, they never did. My professional mandate is to significantly reduce the number of people that have a similar experience.
Fast forward 30 some years to last Thursday, when I had the opportunity to be at the New York Stock Exchange, to recognize the leaders of the 25 best companies to work for across the globe. These are the leaders who broke away from the mold of what my father and most of the world’s employees experience to set the bar high as role models and say—WE ARE NOTHING WITHOUT OUR PEOPLE. Simple and obvious, as there is no company on the planet that can survive without people, but yet it is so often overlooked.
The primary determining factor for which companies made the list was how employees experience their work environment. It is one thing to make a promise to focus on your people, it is yet an entirely different thing to deliver on it. Most of the companies that were recognized are enormous and very sophisticated enterprises and yet they were able to deliver on a commitment across the globe, to consistently act with the belief that people are their primary asset. These companies could have chosen a different and more average path, but they fervently delivered on their commitment to their people and their people are the ones who overwhelmingly told us that they consistently experience this commitment.
People are not a commodity and if you treat them as such, you will get less than mediocre results from them. However, if you treat them with respect and if you inspire them, the power of harnessing their collective creativity and energy will yield extraordinary business results. If you treat them with respect and inspire them, you will by default, create a better world-wide society. And the simple truth is, if you choose not to treat people with respect, you will not survive as a business in the long term. My father and generations prior didn’t realize that such great workplaces could exist (and in fact after 7 years of working here and sharing stories of greatness with him, I think he is even still just a little bit dubious). But now that we have elevated the existence of these great workplaces to front page headlines across the globe, talented people are more aware than ever that they have options and will choose to contribute their gifts to a company that embraces them.
The total number of people employed by the World’s 25 best is 3,543,459. There are 7 billion people on this planet and growing, so our work is really just beginning. Honoring the 25 World’s Best last week has reinvigorated my passion for our work and I invite all of us to make our own personal commitments to creating a great place to work, regardless of our role or the company for which we work.
So, the challenge to the world is on—will you “create yours?”