I strongly believe that work should be a fulfilling and even enjoyable part of each of our lives. We spend a lot of time working, and for many of us it is the main ways we contribute to our communities and society as a whole.
Like many companies, Nolte is a knowledge business, which means that the skill of our people is at the core of what we provide to our clients. Process and smooth talking is a difficult foundation on which to build a business, I know from the stressful experience I lived through. Having great people along with a culture of delivering great work is the only sustainable way. But it’s a two-way street, great people will only join and stay if you treat them right. This article explains some of the ways I believe we make a difference.
Treat them like adults
You hire people who are responsible of delivering great work. You expect them to proactively identify risks, communicate with the client, design solutions and implement them. Yet you treat them like children!
This is a particular bug-bear of mine in my home country of Mexico, where it is common to have strict controls over employee’s time (you must be at your desk by 8:30am and leave at 6pm, you have 1 hour for lunch from 2-3pm, no slacking!). Added to this are expectations that you will work late when necessary, but nothing is given in return (Mexico actually has the longest working week of any country in the world). My wife, Ellie, used to work for an insurance company many years ago and at month-end her team would be waiting until mid afternoon to receive the data they needed to run their processes late into the night. This would go on a for a few days every month, she would arrive home as late as 3am and be expected to be in the next day at 8:30am, just to kill hours doing nothing whilst waiting for the next day’s iterations. WTF? This is bureaucracy gone mad, how does this strict time keeping only work one way? How do you expect your staff to think on such little sleep? Never mind the impact on their health and family life. Unsurprisingly, she quit.
My view is that the type of adults we want to employ can organise their own time. We don’t dictate any start, stop or break hours. We don’t even have any limits on vacation time or where you work from. We trust our team to do the right thing for themselves, their team mates and our clients.
Bend over backwards to give them what they need
To start with, your team needs the tools of their job: a computer. Get them a good one that will help them be as productive as they can. On top of that they need a great working environment, whether that be office space or home office – it should have the resources they need to be comfortable, productive and healthy.
They also need growth, few people are happy to stagnate. We sponsor training and are working to define career paths for all of our team. We go above and beyond, for example providing regular English lessons to a number of our team members. And of course be generous with your time and expect the rest of the team to do so too, our job is to enable our teams to grow, not just to deliver for our clients.
This is really the base level. From there I am present to the fact that work is an integral part of our lives, not something to be balanced (implying a never-ending battle between work and home life). Invest in your team’s wellbeing, and support them in their family lives. We provide health insurance for the whole family, an allowance to spend on wellbeing, plus we run initiatives to understand how our team our feeling and take action where needed.
The final part is where we really bend over backwards. Say an employee comes to you with a personal problem, what do you do about it? Regardless of whether you consider it directly impacts their work, let’s use our resources to support our team. And let’s go one step further, by proactively asking our team members what their personal goals are, let’s not limit ourselves to professional goals. I view us as one big team in life, our shared goal: a fulfilling and successful life for all Nolteñ@s.
Share the spoils
Celebrate success, both in work and personal lives. Be generous with positive feedback, and expect your team to do so too. Be generous with your cash, your people helped you earn that.
One nice thing in Mexico is the PTU, which legally obliges companies to share 10% of their profits with their staff. At Nolte we have extended this to include all employees worldwide, considering the company’s worldwide profit. This has the added benefit of aligning your team to your goal of a healthier bottom line.
Treat your staff right and they will treat you right. They will do great work and they will stay loyal. And you may feel good about the impact you’re making on the world.