I have been reading lately more and more articles on LinkedIn and other sites about what is truly most important in a company. Oleg Vishnepolsky, CTO of the Daily Mail and Metro.Co.Uk posted an interesting experience that gave opportunity for thinking and changing his actions titled, “Your most important assets are not your clients, it’s your loyal employees. If you take of your employees, they will take care of your clients." Then there is Brigette Hyacinth, writer and author about working relationships in companies, who posted on LinkedIn a similar topic, “Why You Should Put Employees, Not Customers, First!” Great articles to remind us that employees are individuals with high value.
And while this topic is not new, why are there so many articles and books on this topic? It is obvious that there is a truth behind the saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care." This is an excellent company mantra. For employees are, at the very least, two things to a company: 1) a company’s largest operating expense, and 2), a company’s largest and most valuable resource. It is, therefore, critical for company executives to be the leaders in the manner they treat employees directly under them, as well as initiating programs that are powerful in the statement of how much a company cares for their employees. The business we’re in—preventing employee injuries through a multitude of proven methods—is a demonstrable way to say to all employees that the company cares. The benefits are two sided and valued by all recipients.
You may be able to visualize how the company can and should demonstrate outwardly their appreciation of employees, yet need a few easy methods to begin to institute and grow that care. Below are three methods that can be used that will send a strong message to your employees about company commitment to them.
- Develop and start a strong daily stretch and movement routine.
Companies that already have morning stretch programs in use, take stock. It is quite possible that revamping and improving the program is in order. For companies that have never started a morning stretch program, this method will be a welcomed employee experience.
Why? Morning stretch and move programs provide not only physical flexibility and protection against injury, but daily educational moments as well. Executives and managers can use this time with employees to improve their knowledge of physical movement and fitness. Not all individuals will have the same knowledge base, and this is an opportunity to bring everyone on the team to the same basic level of understanding.
- For educational background, our bodies really do not stretch the way we may think of when the word “stretch” is used. Yes, there are elastic components in the tissues, but, overall, the tissues inside the human body slide and glide over each other. In addition, static stretches—the most commonly used type of stretch in many morning routines—should be replaced with what is known as dynamic stretches, or in Physical Performance Solutions parlance, specific movements.
- Research shows that static stretches used prior to highly repetitious or ballistic movements can actually slow down the muscle firing process in the body for a short period of time.
- To turn a static stretch into a dynamic stretch, make the stretch more of a movement rather than holding the end position.
- This type of movement increases the blood and oxygen flow throughout the body, therefore mimicking larger movement patterns that maybe similar to the movements used in the work station.
- Also add movements that are the opposite of what is used in the workstations. Why? For example, if gripping electric drills all day is a common task, the forearm muscles, both flexors and extensors, become fatigued well before the worker notices fatigue or stiffness. Teaching workers how to move body parts in the opposite direction helps to encourage and facilitate the tissue glide that is normal in the body.
- Develop and encourage employees to use these movements all throughout the workday. Research in this area repeatedly shows that altering movements is beneficial to tissues of the body in maintaining a proper tissue motion.
- Institute a mentoring program for all employees.
In physical labor positions, many employees would like to step up and have the opportunity to expand their skills, yet feel that it’s not possible. Starting a mentoring program at this level is just as important as mentorship programs that may exist in management or elsewhere in the company.
Mentorships here can take on many forms and be kept simple. You might consider a reverse mentoring program. An example of reverse mentoring can be an employee mentoring a production manager on the assembly line. Managers aren't doing the work, so they may be missing some important elements that the frontline worker can see. More importantly, the relationship between a mentor and mentee is something that can foster respect across departments and job titles: a benefit that money can’t buy.
Another example of reverse mentoring is to couple an older employee with a younger employee. These methods help to increase the knowledge base across the workforce and build mutual respect. This reverse hierarchal mentoring is also shown to increase trust, understanding and engagement across departments and across a company’s entire organizational structure. Additionally, reverse mentoring is a positive method for gaining an accurate pulse of the culture of the company.
Developing a mentorship program: A H A moments: Agree, Hunger, Appreciate
- Agree. Each party needs to define their goals. What are the expectations? Both individuals need to agree to these and any additional rules as the mentorship program is designed. Defining goals and expectations ahead of time helps the two to help each other gain the knowledge each one would like to gain. This helps to increase communication skills for both parties and certainly increases the work relationship.
- Hunger. To learn! At certain times, even the mentor will become the mentee. Especially in reverse types of mentorship programs, both parties are learning new information as they share their ideas and concerns. All of this helps satisfy each participant’s hunger to grow.
- Appreciate. Appreciation comes from the new knowledge and perspective that was shared. As I mentioned earlier, no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. In mentorships, the building of new relationships builds a new level of acknowledgement and appreciation. That appreciation can result for many reasons. The salient point is that more individuals within the company now have a greater depth of awareness—interdepartmentally, intra-departmentally, and across the company’s organizational structure as a whole. Engagement will increase for the company as a whole. And, as a whole, the company will succeed! Because more and more employees will be on the same team.
- Utilize specific employee surveys.
Employee surveys are not new. Most medium to large companies use employee surveys to gain insight on what is important to employees in aggregate and also to address specific areas of concerns for individual employees. We suggest a specific type of survey that will be used to impact the first two suggestions we’ve laid out here: morning stretch and movement programs, and mentorships. Via integrating the responses from this more specific survey, these two well-known methods can evolve, stay fresh, and engage employees, thereby becoming a true demonstration of the company’s appreciation of and care for its most valuable asset.