Companies of various sizes have employed me over the years. Although very distinct from one another, they all shared one challenge that dominated their company culture: work-life balance. Multiple organizations have leveraged the over-used idiom, “Work Hard, Play Hard.” Often in practice, this translates into “Work Hard, Work Harder,” where the unspoken pressure to “do more” often superseded any attempt at a genuine culture. These were the places I did not work at for very long.
For service-based companies, where human effort equals income, it is convenient to equate the hard work put in by our fellow employees to widgets on a conveyor belt. By viewing people like machines on a factory floor, leaders begin to think that “more is better,” and increased effort will directly result in increased productivity.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Machines are installed in-place and do what they are designed to do until they break. Humans are messy creatures with a will of their own, and they only work because they want to.
I had to illustrate this once to a CEO late one evening. She had demanded everyone stay late to make up for a slip in overall productivity. Still, as we walked through her office suite, she saw only a group of dejected, unhappy people doing little, if any, work at all. I told her, “Flowers cannot be berated into growing.” She sat quietly for a while after my short presentation and then let everyone go for the weekend.
The human capital unicorn of our industry is a genuine and robust company culture where the people drive the business instead of the other way around.
BlueModus believes in unicorns. I have become a devotee of their mantra, “Work Hard, Go Home,” in my two years here. Instead of hijacking corporate culture into a drive for further production, it stresses making the most of the time you spend at work. They recognize that people don’t want to be at work more than they must. Celebrating life events empowers our colleagues to share their personal experiences. Even though we are separated by long distances, working at BlueModus feels like being part of an extended family.
Instead of resulting in lower productivity, this approach has the exact opposite effect. Happy, satisfied people are more productive than those brow-beaten into making quotas. Colleagues treated with trust and respect will give it in return to the company and their clients. Having a time-boxed work week helps colleagues focus their productivity, provides a finite amount of expected effort and gives employees a finish line they can cross. Employees finish the week with a feeling of accomplishment, can put their workload aside to enjoy the weekend, and show up on Monday morning energized and ready to work.
Re-aligning a company’s culture to engender real connections can have immediate positive impacts. It is up to the company’s leadership to realize the true power of their human capital is to grow a flowerbed of confident and empowered employees with a definite set of expectations.