The Often Overlooked Business Success Strategy: Treating Employees Well

Everyone’s had them: those bosses who make you dread going to work in the morning, micromanage you all day long and inspire you to anticipate quitting time. There are lots of bad bosses out there. 

It’s a completely different experience when you launch your own company and you are the boss. You quickly realize that being a good leader has its benefits. Studies have shown that treating your employees well can lead to increased productivity, employee loyalty, less employee stress (which leads to fewer sick days), and higher levels of employee retention. Also, when you create a positive work environment, word gets around and you’re able to attract top talent.

There’s also research that suggests that employees who are treated well are more innovative. According to journalist Will Yakowicz, referring to a study published in Harvard Business Review, “Researchers from Monash University and LaTrobe University in Australia found that the companies with the highest worker treatment scores produced more patents than companies with lower treatment scores. The best-treated employees produced patents that were cited more and were more relevant to the company’s industry.”

Many of today’s CEOs are true believers in creating a pleasant environment for their employees. Toronto executive Sheldon Barris, founder, owner and president of Jorlee Holdings, Ltd., a company that provides funding for construction and development projects for clients throughout the Greater Toronto Area, has long treated his employees with loyalty and fairness. A highly successful businessman and devoted philanthropist, Barris believes in maintaining an employee-friendly work environment.

“You may make less money in the short term, but in the long term, it pays off to be fair and loyal to all people,” Sheldon Barris says. “I lead by involving everyone. I always try to think of a win-win for everybody, instead of taking advantage of people.  I am a solution-oriented thinker. While it’s obviously important to make financial rewards, I don’t reap those benefits unless it’s a win-win situation for my entire team.”

For countless entrepreneurs and business leaders, there’s often a copious amount of empathy involved. You used to be an employee and now you’re supervising employees. How did you want to be treated when you weren’t in charge? Did you learn from your experiences?

Award-winning former CEO and now, sales trainer Jerry Acuff says employees want their bosses to care about them. “They want us to help them succeed,” he says. “The best way to do that is by providing competent job instruction, combined with providing your workers independence in doing their job,” he says. “Fall in love with your people. You have been entrusted with one of the most important responsibilities in life—helping someone else succeed.”

Most of the time, taking care of employees isn’t just about being a good boss. Since about the mid-1990s companies have been offering benefits that they believe will be considered valuable by their workforce. Casual Fridays eventually evolved into full-time casual dress policies at even some of the most starchy companies. During the dot-com era there were numerous stories about perks ranging from on-site basketball courts and free child care to cereal bars in the company cafeteria.

In Weston, Florida, where Scott Scherr founded and serves as CEO at Ultimate Software, he continues to maintain the employee-centric company culture he established early on. In 2016 Forbes named him number two on its list of America’s favorite CEOs. The company’s benefits include covering 100% of health insurance premiums for employees and families, and offering a 401(k) program with a 40% match from the company.

“Just take good care of your employees,” says Scherr. “I don’t know any other way to do business. Take good care of your people always, no matter what is going on outside of your business, and they will take care of your customers. That’s the reason for our 26 years of growth and our financial performance.”