Once Upon a Punch Clock - Invest like a Jack of your Trade

Stephanie Edwards - WIOA Adult Program Coordinator ·

Imagine your company was down to the last figurative penny, and your final choices held the risk of being less than magical. Would you trade what little you had to invest in the future of your company? How could you be sure you were making a wise investment that was worth the risk?

Jack and the Beanstalk is a story about a young boy who is instructed to trade his final milk cow for a few coins. When Jack returns to his mother, she is disappointed that Jack has traded his cow for meagerly beans, not the coins that she expected. To the surprise of Jack and his mother, the beans turn into the giant beanstalk. Jack then climbs the beanstalk and overcomes the obstacle of the Giant in the clouds to acquire more gold than he could have hoped for!

This story reminds me about risk and investment, as Jack was wise enough to trust and invest in the magic beans more than the face value of the coins, in hopes that the risk would pay off. Though farfetched, the concept has real world implications in business and trade.

Investment in employee happiness can seem like a risk when other investments have a more concrete return, or when money is very tight. However; it could prove to be the beanstalk leading to wealth and health of the company, giving a greater return than ever imagined. Here are three reasons why:

  • Happy employees are loyal employees, which reduces turnover costs
  • Happy employees attract customers and keep them returning
  • Happy employees tell other people how happy they are, which improves recruiting and retention efforts

“Seventy percent of American workers are either uninspired at work or actively disengaged, which cost businesses more than $450 million in 2013.” When you see a figure of 450 million in wasted dollars, trading your final penny to invest in employee happiness seems less risky.

According to research conducted by Shawn Achor, “positive employees outperform negative employees in terms of sales, energy levels, turnover rates and health-care costs by as much as 30%. In fact, the benefits can be seen across industries and job functions. Optimistic salespeople outperform their pessimistic colleagues by up to 37%. Even medical doctors are three times more creative and 50% more accurate at diagnosing patients when positive.”

These figures beg the question, “How do you nurture a culture of positivity without breaking the bank?” One way that successful companies make a zero upfront cost investment in employee happiness is by allowing every employee to spend 10-20% of the week participating in a project of one’s choice. At EDSI that may include participating in a Functional Improvement Team to develop a project, collaborating with a mentor or writing for the company blog. Employees can participate in useful projects that renew energy and foster creativity, making the time spent seem incomparable to the great return. Showing employees how they make a difference in the company and how their efforts are contributing to a greater purpose, not with words but with data, goes a long way. Thanking employees each week and recognizing their contributions can also increase positivity. Finally, allowing employees to maintain their personal well-being is also a way to improve overall happiness. Through talent surveys, in depth interviews, and coaching methods, EDSI has expertise in defining happiness from an employee perspective. They continuously assess the values of Show up, Smile and Support and use these values to guide choices. The method to improve happiness in any workplace is to continuously ask employees what they need, attribute success of the company to the employees, and allow employees to be their best selves. Though most of the ways to invest in employee happiness are not cost intensive, even a small cost is worth the outcome. At the end of the beanstalk, there are no giants involved, except for maybe a giant smile from the group of happy employees worth trading a final penny for.

To see how your company is doing in five critical areas related to talent, including: Assessing, Attracting, Developing, Retaining and Sustaining, take our free talent survey by clicking on this link: https://www.edsitalentsurvey.com/talent-survey.