Lesson #5: When it comes to your employees, be generous.
An important lesson we can learn from Best Companies is that employee loyalty, commitment, and productivity are all real byproducts of generosity. Whether that generosity takes the form of transparent communication, increased autonomy, an intense focus on development, or simply the gift of a leader’s attention, all are guaranteed to be wise investments in a successful employer/employee relationship.
However, leaders often have a hard time letting go of the idea that if they are overly giving, then they will foster a culture of entitlement. This fear can stop employers from being generous with the people that matter most—their own employees.
At the 2014 Great Place to Work® Conference, we heard many great practices from our Best Companies presenters that demonstrate this type of authentic generosity in practice. Some are simple to implement—others more difficult—but ALL serve to foster trust, build a great workplace, and maybe even to inspire others to try something similar.
One of these practices was the granting “Wishez” program at Zappos. What do your employees wish for? If you don’t ask the question, you may never know. In the Zappos “Wishez” program, employees can write what they wish for and post it publicly. This empowers other employees to grant the wishes of their colleagues. Some are simple, like “I wish for a Frappuccino.” Others are more complex, such as “I wish my dad had the hearing aid he needs to continue working,” or “I wish I could afford the attorney fees needed for my daughter and me to become American citizens.” These wishes, too—with the help of Zappos—have been granted.
When designing people practices, think about whether the practice feels "gift-like" or transactional in nature. Practices that go above and beyond have the employees' best interest at heart; they are less transactional, and are instead rooted in a genuine sense of respect and caring for employees.
Download the Five Lessons for Leaders as they Build a Great Workplace whitepaper to read more about this and other key takeaways from the 2014 Great Place to Work® Conference!