Putting employees first to build a better business


The secret to a company’s success is the employees that support the business. A company spends a considerable amount of money recruiting, hiring, and training talent. Putting employees first by rewarding them for their efforts and creating a better work environment fosters job satisfaction.

Happier employees are good for a company’s bottom dollar in more ways than one. Job satisfaction reduces employee turnover. The Work Institute estimates that the cost of a lost U.S. worker is $15,000. The figure is conservative and could be higher.

As more organizations recognize the value of their team’s contribution to the company’s success, they find new and creative ways to increase employee satisfaction. If your business isn’t keeping up with the latest in employee-first trends, you put your company at risk of losing your best talent to organizations that do a better job of supporting them. Regardless of the size of your business, there are ways to create an employee-first environment.

Adding Expanded Benefits

The fastest way to reward your employees for their hard work without having to make major structural or operational changes is by expanding your company’s employee benefits package. To avoid employee burnout, consider adding or expanding your paid time off (PTO) program. Employees can use the time for vacations or leaves to recharge before they get back to work.

Besides the traditional benefits that come as part of a standard employee compensation package, such as health insurance and profit-sharing, other perks your organization can provide include the following:

  • Free or discounted gym memberships.
  • Laundry and dry-cleaning pickup and drop off service from the company location.
  • Adding a daycare site at the company headquarters.
  • Creating a coffee bar so employees don’t have to leave to grab a latte.
  • Providing catered lunches or company barbeques on Fridays.
  • A remote work program with funding to create a functional home workspace.
mobile app employees

Diversity as Company Culture

A company that embraces diversity and appreciates the unique needs and experiences that a wide variety of talent can bring to the table creates an inclusive work environment that better reflects the real world. Elise Awwad, Vice President of Strategic Enrollment Management at DeVry University explains, “Diversity allows companies to adopt a different lens to solve challenges, operate the organization, and keep it strong.”

Fostering an inclusive work environment begins with executives, management, and the HR department. A strategic plan should be enacted to change the way talent is recruited and hired. Consider adding a percentage of employees that have different credentials and education from the rest of your team.

For example, if the majority of the company staff are white-collar college graduates, consider hiring a percentage of high school grads with alternate work experience such as military service or a strong volunteering background. Innovation is more likely when people with varying ways of seeing things, based on their past experiences, come together. As DeVry’s Awwad puts it, “If you have multiple people thinking the same way, you don’t really grow or innovate.”

Work Flexibility to Serve the Diverse Workplace

If your company chooses to promote a diverse workplace as part of its culture, take it one step further by adapting to your employees’ needs. For example, if you have many young parents as employees, allowing them to work remotely from home on certain days could help them spend more time with their kids and save on expensive daycare.

Other ways you can support the same young parents is by implementing a flexible shift system. Offer employees the option to work part-time shifts that can be shared with a partnering team member to make a full-time day. For example, one employee may choose to work from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the partnering flexible shift worker could continue from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

As your company expands and the demographic of your employees widens, offering workplace flexibility by implementing remote work and flexible shifts can attract new talent as well as keep your existing workers happy.

Team-Building Activities

Expanding your workplace to include a more diverse representation of people comes with its challenges. Ensuring that everyone feels welcome and heard takes work. The process may require trial and error to get right. 

One of the best ways you can foster an air of teamwork so that everyone feels part of the company culture is by organizing team-building activities. These activities tend to break the ice faster so employees can feel more comfortable opening up. For example, schedule an occasional break at work for everyone to share where they’re from or a funny story about something that recently happened to them. Your company can also host international food days in which all employees bring a snack or sample of typical food they eat.

Your business can also host after-work mixers to encourage team members to spend more time getting to know each other. Or organize a weekend sport once per month so everyone can get together to go bowling or to play softball. Any small effort your company makes to bring everyone together and get to know each other a bit better can benefit the work environment.

An Improved Workplace for Productivity

The office or workspace is where employees spend the majority of their day. Employee-first companies invest time and money to ensure that the work location is comfortable, conducive to productivity, and accessible for all. 

Small details to enhance the office environment such as good lighting, open spaces that disabled team members can effortlessly move around in, and comfortable desks can contribute positively towards the mental health of your employees.

More ways to update a workspace for improved employee well-being and productivity include:

  • Painting the office in a light, bright, and optimistic color such as light green or yellow.
  • Providing a variety of lighting options ranging from overhead lighting and desk lamps.
  • Creating individual workspaces that allow employees to work without distraction.
  • Ensuring there are several gathering areas with plenty of seating for team members to casually meet and collaborate.

People Before Employees

If you’re having trouble grasping the employee-first concept, the best way to look at it is by seeing your employees as people first. Employees aren’t a number. They’re a living part of what makes your organization function. Get to know your employees as individuals so you may better empathize with their passions and needs. Once you do, you’ll have a better idea of how your company can reward them for their commitment to your business.

Last Updated on January 5, 2023.


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