Citius – Altius – Fortius. These words mean Faster – Higher – Stronger. That’s what most CEOs caught in the current VUCA world want from their employees. To be sure, what it means in this context is: Reduce time to market, Higher profit and revenues, Stronger Quarter close.
What can CEOs do with their employees to get them to train, practice and condition them to reduce time to market, Higher profit and revenues, Stronger Quarter close!? They can learn from what happens at the companies that Jerome Dodson picks for his Parnassus Workplace Fund. Read: http://www.fastcompany.com/3006150/proof-profits-americas-happiest-companies-also-fare-best-financially. Getting employees to be training, practicing and getting conditioned to operate in a VUCA world needs a conscious awareness of what they should train on and how. The author proposes that the answer lies in the continuous pursuit of Holistic wellness by every individual employee from you, the CEO to everyone else. This means embedding it within the corporate culture.
What’s the Evidence and why should I bother?
Since the Parnassus Workplace Fund’s inception (April 2005-January 2013) it’s proved immediately, enormously, and enduringly successful with a 9.63% annualized return. This compares to the S&P Index which has earned just 5.58% during the same period. “Our fund has had returns over 4% better than the S&P Index every year,” Dodson noted. “Eight years later, the performance of the fund confirms what I’ve always believed. Treating people well and authentically respecting them does lead to far better business performance. We proved it works.”
So how do these special companies help its employees emulate the Olympic athlete? If the CEO makes time for exercise, for instance, employees will feel less self-conscious about taking a fitness break. When MD Anderson(a healthcare provider) initiated its wellness program, the then president John Mendelsohn took walks throughout the building with wellness coach Bill Baun. For many, it was the first time the president had been in their work space or had shaken their hand, and he tended to start conversations with “How’s your wellness?” Check out: http://hbr.org/2010/12/whats-the-hard-return-on-employee-wellness-programs/ar/1. “How’s your Wellness” became part of MD Anderson’s corporate culture.
Dodson says, “I think what happens when you have a contented workplace, people are willing to put out more effort to improve operations during really difficult times. While I think every organization has their ups and downs, the downs are not as pronounced because everybody pulls together to try to get through the crisis. And, of course, this consistently more engaged performance inevitably reveals itself in the firm’s bottom line.” That’s why “over the past five years–the height of the Great Recession–the average annual return on the Workplace Fund was an incredible 10.81%. The S&P Index for the same period was just 3.97%, a 6.84% difference”.
This is perhaps the most compelling empirical proof ‘that the leaders at organizations who ensure employees feel valued, supported, developed, and rewarded are the most enlightened. They inspire a greatly expanded bottom line and set an example for all to follow in this 21st century’.
Where do i go from here?
The good news is, implementing a robust holistic wellness based employee management structure does not require a multi-million dollar budget nor 5 years to realize its ROI. The results could seen within 2-3 quarters. During the course
of research into writing his new upcoming book ‘The 6 Dimensions: Overcome Presenteeism, Excel in work and Life’ the author has put together a simple yet powerful blueprint for companies to pilot with minimal risks to implement exactly such a program. There are four steps in executing this methodology end to end in a repeatable and scalable manner. The steps have the acronym EASY™ and can help set today’s companies up from good to Citius – Altius – Fortius.
Today’s Corporate America
..Is far from equitable to its employees from a wage perspective. Between CEO and the individual contributor the disparity in compensation versus economic need for money, is staggering.
Today’s basis for computing compensation is geared to ensure more the survival of the company than the survival of its employee. If it were to follow the reverse philosophy things could pan out differently. Employee compensation is more as a consequence or means to justify the end i.e. the survival of the company.
A CEO’s response and its interpretations
Lets deconstruct some of the recent points of view of some respected LinkedIn influencers who were quick to criticize Microsoft’s CEO Nadella’s response to a question and rushed to endear themselves with the other gender’s just cause.
One article stated, Quote:
Since 2009, corporate profits in the US have increased by 84 percent, one of the largest five-year increases ever.
In that same time, wages for American workers have increased by a mere 7.86 percent, despite record productivity. Never before in American history has there been such a gap between the percentage profits have increased in respect to the percentage wages have increased. Unquote.
This statistic didn’t look right, so the author investigated these numbers in a way that would make sense to even a teenager.
1. Why look at 2009 and not 2005? Is it because that was the year of the GFC when the profit of all companies took the worst hit..so you start at a pseudo low baseline making for a dramatic starting point? Is that justified?
2. It shouldn’t take a person with tertiary qualifications to understand that a company can pay higher compensation to its employees, if it has the money to pay. Simple enough? Ok, so lets see if indeed that’s the case. We are talking about gap between profit and wages right?
Err..lets look at the facts. In particular lets take Microsoft itself.
Shockingly, i found that the disparity between profit and wages might have actually come down per employee than it ever was.
From the analysis above for 2014, 172.45 KUSD net profit per employee is the lowest net profit per employee for Microsoft in 10 years! The only year it did worse was in the watershed year of 2005 which was a result of the GFC anomaly.
To its credit Microsoft has been contributing to reducing the unemployment rate in the world as well. Its workforce stands at 128 thousand from 93 thousand in 2009. A 38% increase in families who lived by the income from their jobs in Microsoft.
In other words, are the critics of Nadella giving us an accurate picture? The authors argue that increase in profit should translate as increase in wages of employees. What if the company uses the money to hire more employees? That’s why the ratio of profit to number of employees is a more neutral and accurate indicator of wage rise affordability than what the critic’s of Nadella are quoting. If they were OK with Corporate America’s compensation for decades how does a lady asking a CEO how to get an increase in wages suddenly trigger such an interesting awakening? Why should a relatively benign comment trigger such criticism? Where were you in 2005? Is there some other motivation behind such a critique?
I am not suggesting Corporate America is right. Perhaps not. There is room to do better always. Capitalistic liberty without some level of clear logic can be self-destructive. Ideally a family of husband, wife and two children is the known prevailing sustainable norm. Whether it is the CEO who has such a family or the Individual contributor, they both come to work to earn for this family. So one family unit taking home USD 30 Million annually and another taking home USD 24K annually to feed exactly the same number of stomachs, living in the same city etc…leads to social imbalance, the creation of schism and sows the seeds of discontentment. The CEO cannot function without the support of the Individual contributor. Hence in reality both are needed. The base of power alone should not be the deciding factor to determine compensation.
Key Intent of this post is to excite new thinking
So what is/are the alternative. The alternative might be to create a new more composite metric of economic entitlement. This should be a function of number of family members-limited to 4, non-output socio-economic impact, current job-role contribution etc.
Harvard, are you listening?
Disclaimer: The author has no links with Microsoft Corp in any capacity.
Many of you may have flown by Malaysia Airlines some of you may have not. Irrespective, can you spare 3 mins to help? Here is a brand audit survey commissioned by my daughter’s Singapore Management University project on marketing, on Malaysian airlines.
The results are anonymous. The survey times out in 48 hours. Nandhitha thanks you in advance for your help.
The Rules of the Game are changing
There is broad and growing consensus that in the 21st Century ‘VUCA’ workplace, staff who are cared for in a humane way are likely to be better at delivering results and weathering organizational adversity than ever before. If you are in doubt click here. What is a big challenge is where to start and how to sustain a cultural shift that will deliver on this end state. The pursuit of Wellness which leads to well-being should not be limited to two things:
1. Focused on physical and mental health alone
2. Be the exclusive preserve of organizations linked with healthcare such as hospitals. Baptist Health, MD Anderson etc. are examples
Its great to see that taking shape. Reality is that employees everywhere are equally if not more stressed and pressured than healthcare workers.
‘Great Place to Work’ is doing a great job in fostering better workplaces and bench-marking them. The challenge and opportunity is that there are multiple ways/formulae to getting there.
Current state of the art is to measure the outcome of interventions or policies that promote well-being and then decide if the interventions or policies are making sense. This approach provides a post facto way of measuring success. Its too late and its a gamble. In a Feb 2014 study by Gallup they found Many large companies already have engagement programs but most fail to engage employees. So rather than measure it in a round about fashion. i.e. degree of empowerment, quality of management, etc. what if we could find out exactly what’s stopping people, from living their work-life and family/private lives in a holistically well and full way? and then providing support to overcome these barriers.
A New Gestalt Approach
Since the recent publication of the the book “The 6 Dimensions, Overcome Presenteeism: Excel in work and Life” initial results and feedback from the workshops run at two global companies, based on the book are promising. The hypothesis is: the most sustainable way to maintaining a level of outcome is getting staff to do something you want done because he/she wants to do it. Not just because the company wants it done and they don’t/can’t resonate with it. This is also how Dwight Eisenhower defined leadership.
The workshop is conducted in 3 parts. The first part looks at a self-evaluation of producivity level and barriers if any. The second part allows staff to assess their holistic wellness on each of 6 Dimensions resulting in a HolisticWellness Map(TM) and a Holistic Wellness Index(TM). The third part which seems to be the hardest part for some involves uncovering or validating one’s purpose in life that the book refers to as Grand Central Purpose(TM). Participants’ feedback for satisfaction and NPS is around 7.5 (N=90). Textual feedback included comments like:
“Now I am aware how to improve my wellness”.
“Set me to think and how to plot my purpose in both work life and family life”.
“Its about learning about myself in the 6 Dimensions. In fact it gives me the opportunity to know myself even more. With it, leverage on my strengths to help build on the ‘weakers’ “.
“It makes me start to think in a different way. Tried to look inside of myself. It also let me know how important it is to open your mind”.
“We always take things we know for granted if not we are always in a denial that there are elements that do somehow or other play an impact in our lives. With this workshop it not only make me realize that I have things to work on, address things to make me a better person. Other people around me will and can benefit as well.”
Results from the workshop deliver insights that are unique in workforce history. Most CEOs know that for positive organizational transformation to happen it has to start with every individual doing her/his part. Collating the individual results provides amazing and actionable insights. These include:
What are the barriers of each individual (Assess the extent of or absence of Presenteeism)
What is the individual’s on-the-job productivity/engagement (or potential to reduce Presenteeism)
What is the individual’s, team’s, countries Holistic WellnessStrengths™ and HolisticWellnessIndex™ and what potential interventions could we strategically employ.
How many and how strongly can individuals connect their GCP™ to their Work Goals
After Action learning review and next steps. These include essential manager training and manager-employee communication framework. As Prof. Gary Johns Professor, Management, Concordia University Research Chair, Management stated, “When you are managing absenteeism, who is more likely to know about what is really going on with every individual employee? It is probably the manager, and if they are not involved in trainings and awareness, a critical source of information will be missing.”
Every CEO is concerned about her/his ability to steer their organizations towards a sustainable path to progress. A progress that satisfies customers, employees and Wall street. There is broad and growing consensus that in the 21st Century
workplace, staff who are cared for in a humane way are likely to be better at delivering results and weathering organizational adversity than ever before. If you are in doubt click here. The big challenge about where to start and how to sustain a cultural shift that will deliver on this end state can be overcome if staff do the things you want done because he/she wants to do it. Not if they don’t/can’t resonate with it. The new more direct gestaltic approach to workplace well-being could hold the key to that end result. As with any worthwhile initiative, creating a culture of well-being takes passionate, persistent, and persuasive leadership. Start fast, start small, fail fast, fail cheap and WIN your pursuit of enabling your employees’ true and sustainable Well-being!
Gurunath Hari is the author of “The 6 Dimensions, Overcome Presenteeism: Excel in work and Life”. He has over 25 years of corporate experience, including leadership and management roles. His working life started at the end of the pre-computer era and
continues to the present ‘everything-mobile’ era.
The 6 Dimensions book will soon be available on kindle !!