Caution: Some financial experts couldn’t build, manage, or sell anything; run a hot-dog stand at noon hour; or meet a peanut payroll. And many talking heads on the daily financial news seem to have photographic memories but can’t think beyond 36 hours into the future as they make their next earnings prediction.
Still, there does seem to be a trend developing within the financial/business community that is starting to notice that workplace cultures matter.
These mavens of money buy and own businesses (via stock purchases), and can tell what they like about places that make them money, as opposed to those that vaporize their portfolios. Just like you can tell what you like about a good plate of spaghetti even though you’re unfamiliar with all the debates, drama, and issues Italian restaurant owners face on a daily basis.
When money managers start talking about the companies they would like to buy, and the companies they would like to take a pass on, we need to listen. Money managers are buying into the idea that the company, and thus their investment, will be successful. A new, clear message from these managers is growing in volume – businesses with healthy cultures are big money winners.
Healthy Workplace Cultures are Good Business
Most financial experts are unaware of the history of workplace wellness, or think it’s a somewhat silly distraction. They don’t know about the issues you face each day trying to get people to make healthy choices. What financial experts do know is that happy people perform better when that characteristic exists at the workplace. Zappos (which does not have a traditional wellness program) is an example often cited in financial circles. See The Zappos Way – “Return on Community.”
Think of Adam Smith’s invisible hand metaphor regarding economics. Making money can back into acting ethically and morally in how we treat employees. It doesn’t matter whether you treat people well so you can make money or simply because it’s the right thing to do. When you treat people well (and use common sense), everyone is better off regardless of the primary motivation. I’ve always believed the practice of common sense, empathy, and civility should be the foundation of human interaction. The fact that those behaviors are also economically productive is probably part of our evolutionary ability to survive and thrive.
Like consumers of spaghetti dinners, money managers know workplace cultures that are fun and rewarding have people who produce better products, services, and profits.
Healthy workplace cultures are also a prerequisite if we’re to get the USA’s economic engine running closer to its real potential.
“Once organizational health is properly understood and placed into the right context it will surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage. Really.”
“The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business” by Patrick M. Lencioni
Check out the following three resources from the financial/business media to get an idea of the way CEOs and boards are starting to think about building healthy cultures:
1. 6 Ways to Save Your Life — and Your Company by Tom Gardner, CEO and co-founder of the Motley Fool. Appearing in “Unwind” Magazine.
2. “The Soft Edge, Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success” by Rich Karlgaard.
3. The High Cost (And Best Cures) For Dysfunctional Company Culture by Cheryl Conner
The financial/business media is making sense while much of workplace wellness leadership is still stuck in the bio-medical, poke-and-prod, lab-rat wellness model now going on 30 years. I bet the smart money will follow the new ideas of how to build productive workplace cultures. If we as “wellness professionals” don’t wake up soon, there’s a real chance we’ll just become completely irrelevant. We could become the horse-and-buggy whip industry at the dawn of the automobile.
Look in different places for better ideas. The financial/business media space is more enlightening and energizing right now than another wellness seminar or webinar on how to get employees to do things they don’t want to do.
Shawn is the President and Founder of Hope Health. For over 30 years, his work has focused on bringing clear, easy-to-read and watch health messages to the public via workplaces. He bills himself as the “Best C+ Student in the Wellness Biz” because, as he says, “I like to challenge the notion that there is no such thing as a stupid question.” Shawn is on a mission to tie workplaces into their surrounding communities to share resources and ideas in an effort to improve the health of all Americans.
You may reach Shawn at sconnors@HopeHealth.com or 800-334-4094.