Yet, as a mentor and consultant, I find that many entrepreneurs focus only on working conditions and compensation as the key factors determining team engagement, health, and productivity.
I’ve always known it was much more complicated than that, but I have struggled over the years to pull together all the elements. Thus, I was pleased to see a much broader and more complete perspective on employee support in a new book, Employees First! by Donna Cutting, which focuses on employee culture and optimizing customer service.
Among the key factors which I believe are often overlooked, Cutting emphasizes that you need to focus on all the dimensions of employee wellness, as originally defined by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and other experts. Here, these factors are explained:
1. Physical health.
2. Emotional stability.
This relates to every team member’s ability to manage stress, control emotions, and cope with business and personal challenges. I find this one to be just as important as physical health, but it’s often overlooked by business leaders and personnel managers alike. It is the key to coping with stress and adapting to change.
3. Financial strength.
Financial well-being is the ability of every team member to feel comfortable with the financial rewards provided by your business. They must manage these daily, have savings plans in place, set financial goals, and stay on track to meet them. Of course, you as the business leader have a key role in making all of this happen.
4. Social interactions.
Every person requires some level of positive human interaction with co-workers and others to be satisfied and productive. For you, this means providing a positive team culture, being a role model for good communication, and creating a support network of colleagues. This translates to better motivation, productivity, and collaboration.
5. Spiritual connections.
In business, this is all about the company values and purpose that give meaning and direction to your team. You need team members who understand and share these values if you want commitment and accountability from them. Every team member wants to be part of a higher purpose than just survival and profit.
For example, Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes, set a higher purpose of donating a pair of shoes to the needy for every pair sold, driving a spiritual cause for employees and customers. Other studies have shown a return of up to 400 percent for this approach.
6. Environmental safety.
This begins with making every team member’s work environment a safe and enjoyable place to be, with a feeling of order and harmony. In my experience, it also extends to your solution’s positive impact on customers, and the greater world social and environmental issues, including global warming, toxins, and the culture of others.
7. Occupational satisfaction.
You, as a business leader, can greatly influence this factor by providing the resources and training to allow team members to do their jobs better and appreciate the impact of their work. They also need to feel the rewards of doing the job well, including positive customer feedback and career advancement opportunities.
8. Intellectual stimulation.
Let your team members feel that they are constantly learning new things and allow them to share their talents through coaching and mentoring assignments. Delegate decisions and support their creative efforts through positive feedback and creative compensation. Ask for creative thinking and listen to feedback.
You need to recognize that building and maintaining a highly productive and engaged team is quite different from creating and maintaining an innovative solution. Remember that team members are people first, not just another technical solution component.
With the right product and the right team, you too can have a thriving and satisfying business for all concerned.