I believe that there's close to, if not more profits to be made in most businesses through focusing on their employees as much as they do their customers. Most business owners, leadership teams, and managers struggle to realise or justify this. This article is designed to help you change that.
I doubt there are many people in leadership or management positions that don't want their employees to be healthy, happy and productive. The benefits are obvious, even when we have little understanding of the metrics affected by this.
If I were to ask a business owner or leader how much their business would improve if their employees were 10% healthier, happier, and more productive, they would provide me with a long list of benefits.
If I were to ask a manager how much their department would be improved if their employees were 10% healthier, happier, and more productive they would provide me with a long list of benefits.
If I were to ask you how much better your life would be if you were 10% healthier, happier, and more productive, you would no doubt provide me with a long list of benefits.
If I were to ask any of the aforementioned how much time and energy they put into developing health, happiness, and sustainable performance levels, the answer is often little to none.
I can say this with a high level of confidence because I've done it myself, and because I've seen it thousands of times across businesses of all shapes and sizes. It's interesting that although most of us know how important these things are, nationwide (as individuals and businesses) we neglect them. In this article, we'll explore why that is and what to do about it.
What do you think is the number one excuse we tell ourselves (as individuals, managers and leaders) for neglecting personal and team development? If I were to ask you what your main barriers are to taking better care of yourself and your people, what answer would you provide?
I've asked this question thousands of times. The most common answer, hands down, is time.
"I know I should take better care of myself but I just can't seem to find the time."
"I know our team should be planning our years and quarters, but we're just so busy."
The harsh truth is, this is an excuse we make up. A favourite statement of mind to share in workshops when we're exploring this excuse is:
"Do we truly believe that we don't have more time in the workplace? Do we not find it to be a strange notion that with all of the new technology in the world we still just manage to fit in the right amount of work required to stop the boat from sinking into the hours of a set working week?"
When individuals tell me that they don't have enough time to focus on their personal development or health, I'll ask the question:
"If the doctor told you today that unless you begin exercising for 30 minutes a day you will die within 3 months, would you be able to find the time?"
The answer is invariably yes.
My aim in asking these questions or making these points is not to be condescending, but to help create a paradigm shift in our minds. If time were truly the barrier to better health and development, the majority of our nation would have come out of lockdown healthier, and happier than ever before. They didn't.
We tell ourselves that time is the ultimate barrier in our personal and professional lives. But the barrier isn't real, it's a mental construct, an excuse. The problem is that even though it's not real, if we don't remove it by accepting that it's not real, it still holds us back.
This isn't an article on time management, but what I will say on the topic is that when working with businesses and teams we run three separate training sessions on time management - the first is entirely focused on mindset.
Once we've accepted that time isn't the real barrier we can move onto to what needs to be done to make better organising time into personal and team development easy and enjoyable.
We humans are creatures of habit. We like to do what we know. It's ingrained into our subconscious from the moment we start school that to be busy is to be successful, and that spending time on health and development is a low-value activity (Children spend less than 7% of their school week on PE). Going against that subconscious is uncomfortable, it feels much easier to carry on doing what we already know, even when that behaviour is creating issues. It's here that our real barriers lie. Moving away from our comfort zones takes sustained effort. In order to support ourselves in doing that, we need to learn a little from sales processes.
Sales professionals understand that the human mind resists making decisions in favour of avoiding any stress and keeping everything exactly as it is. Therefore an effective salesperson will do two things to encourage you to buy:
1) Ensure you can see the emotional benefits of buying or investing into the idea/item they are selling.
2) Ensure you can logically demonstrate the return on investment of your time and or money.
You want to improve your workforce or team. You wouldn't be reading this article if you didn't. So let's effectively sell that idea to ourselves so that we can make it a priority and enjoy the process.
Read these instructions then set yourself a timer for 5 minutes.
On a piece of paper, write down all of the benefits you might see if you and your team/workforce were 30% healthier, happier and more productive.
Write down the business benefits, but also the personal benefits.
Think about how this would affect your mental state, your home life, your energy.
How would this affect your stress levels?
How would it affect the relationships you have with your team and clients?
How would it affect the overall image and performance of the business, team or department?
Try not to be a perfectionist or analytical, just let your mind flow and write down whatever comes in.
From that exercise, you should have a comprehensive list of benefits to be achieved in your business by spending more time on effective personal and team development.
Looking at those benefits, do they begin to justify going against your subconscious, getting a bit uncomfortable, and putting in regular time for personal and team development?
For example, if some of the items on my list were:
- I'd enjoy work more because of the energy and teamwork,
- Team collaboration and innovation would be better so I wouldn't feel like I have to do everything.
- We would have fewer sick days so myself and my managers could spend less time firefighting and more time doing what we love.
It starts to make it easier for me to break away from that deeply ingrained subconscious behaviour that is prioritising being busy over being effective. If you are a leader in a large business or corporation I recommend doing this as a group brainstorming exercise with other department heads or senior leaders. Grab a whiteboard and ask the group:
"What improvements would we see in our business if our workforce were just 10% healthier, happier and more productive."
I have no doubt, as I've seen before, you'll have many powerful revelations.
Going through this exercise might enable us to be emotionally committed to investing more time into personal and team development, but if we can't justify the cost of time and or money, we might will struggle to make the decision or get others to support the decision.
The health, happiness, and performance levels of a workforce have a huge impact on the bottom line of the business. The problem is most businesses are so focused on selling more and spending less, they often overlook this area.
Do you know your employee turnover levels? Do you know the average cost of recruitment? How many sick days a year do you have, and how much is that costing you? Do you know the motivation levels of your workforce throughout the year?
In the next article, we'll explore some basic exercises and tools we can use to get a rough idea of these numbers and the costs associated to them. After we've done this we'll explore how much reducing these costs by just 10% is worth to us. When we understand the financial rewards associated to developing our people and combine them with the emotional benefits it becomes very easy for us to justify to ourselves and others putting time into it. All we need to do then is find a proven method to achieve those results.
Want to find out if we can help you transform your business through your people?