Business: It Is Personal

By Jennifer E. Goldman, President

Have you ever heard someone say, “It’s not personal, it’s just business.”? Typically what they mean is that the person they’re speaking with has put too much personal emotion into the workplace. Business is definitely a place where professionalism should be at the forefront, however without making business a “personal thing” it can become cold, hard, grueling and, in the end, repel both clients and employees.

A business with no heart will find itself with no support ere long. Too many business owners and top level managers believe that what makes them successful is doing just that – showing no heart. Truth be told, there may have been a time in this nation where that type of leadership had its place. I believe that time has long since passed.

In this day and age the general workforce has become much more conscientious; driven mostly, in my opinion, by Gen Y. They look for companies, whether it’s doing business with or for, who take a responsible, active role in the community. And it’s spreading. Think about how much more prevalent the idea of shop local is right now than it was 10 years ago, and how far corporate responsibility has come. People are now much more apt to take a deeper look at the companies they do business with and work for. The general population has attached earning and spending dollars with feeling good about the businesses who provide those opportunities.

Is your company one of those businesses? Do people feel good about giving you money for the goods or services you provide? Do your employees feel good about earning their paycheck from you?

Employee morale and turnover is one good measurement of this. If someone asked one of your staff members about their job, how would they answer?

The way a business treats their employees and the community surrounding them speaks volumes. One of the easiest ways to improve relations with both is to put more heart into your corporate structure. Make it personal. Most businesses give paid vacations and sick days, some even give a little paid time off in the name of ‘personal days’. What if you gave your employees four hours (one-half day) each month of paid time to go volunteer at a local organization of their choice?

Chances are, many of them would take advantage of this. Several of them probably already do volunteer work, whether it be for their children’s school, their church, a scouting or youth organization or some other local charity. This is a great way for you to show that you care about what your employees care about and also show that you’re a community-minded organization.

Sure, you’ll be spending money on salaries for time that offers your business zero productivity, but you have to look at what you gain instead:

  • Improved employee relations (which typically increases their rate of productivity on the job and decreases turnover),
  • Improved community relations; word will spread that your company offers this to its employees, which encourages and increases volunteerism in your community and helps gain consumer loyalty,
  • Sense of philanthropy and heart in your business ,
  • Multiple community organizations will be more familiar with your business and begin reaching out with offers to become more involved in the community.

The more you give, the more you will see in return. As a business owner, you’ll need to assess the cost to your business for any given program, offer or employee benefit. However, don’t overlook the long term benefits that will be reaped by your business as it gains awareness and loyalty by the community.