In Support of Carbon-Based Life Forms
Forget about bottom lines.
Customer service, metrics, market research... Pffffft.
Product marketing? Totally worthless.
Sounds crazy, doesn't it?
No dispute there. But the same kind of "logic" permeates the "people practices are the soft fluffy, hard-to-measure costs of doing business and as a result they don't really matter" arguments.
Let me put this bluntly: in the business world, people matter. Their engagement and well-being matter. How we support them matters. Unsatisfied people - even when they're aggressive, driven, and paid well - don't last long. They get fed up. They get burned out. They lose efficacy. It's amazing how quickly "unsatisfied" becomes "I don't care." And as a torpedo, the de-rallying cry of "I don't care" is about as big a business buster as the collapse of an entire product marketplace.
On a basic level, think about some of those retailers you go back to over and over and over again. Why do you order that particular brand when any similar product would probably do? I'm betting it's because of the people - the unflinchingly loyal customer service agents on the other end of the phone who are known for taking every step to ensure satisfied customers. And why do they do what they do? Ask them. I did. And the very nice woman on the phone told me, "We love it here. Our company supports us 100% and we know it." In short: people practices that lead to job satisfaction, well-being, engagement.
And it isn't just about customer service. Think: innovation. We may sleep with our Smartphones, but Siri didn't invent herself. And unless she acquires opposable thumbs, it will be another carbon-based life form that invents the next big thing (NBT) that we can't live without.
Inspiring the Next Big Thing (NBT)But inspiring that NBT will require people who are fully invested: people who are creative, innovative, and focused. They'll need to not only be engaged and energized, but resilient enough to sustain that energy. And to be all of that, they'll need to feel in charge, in control, and fully up to the challenge. In other words, they'll need to have an overall sense of well-being.
And guess what - employers can affect all that, and can reap big - huge! - rewards in the process. And why wouldn't you want to do that when it means a workforce of people who are not only charged up enough to deliver - but who really, really want to?
But employers - all of us - need to grasp that it's a new workplace out there. People have different desires than they had 50 or even ten years ago. They're talking about work and life and "having it all" and squeezing 200 years into a single lifetime. Nobody's advocating trying to make every moment of work a happy one. Nothing's perfect - we love our kids and we still change diapers, right? But as employers, we can help people fit the pieces together better. I've said it before and a New York Times article not long ago reiterated: these days it's not about balancing work and life equitably on a scale; it's about integrating the two - making sure the puzzle fits together so that people don't feel the kind of resentment and frustration that can cause productivity to run in reverse.
So yes...people and how they feel matter.
Because if you're looking to fashion your next big story, it's not the Droids, the bots, or the tablets that are going to write it.
It's going to be the humans.