“The problem with employees is that they think like employees and not like owners.”
Is it realistic to expect employees to act like owners? As an owner, the personal stakes for you are very high. A successful business can make you a millionaire many times over. Your personal reputation is on the line. Nothing less than the very sense of who you are is at play when you are the owner. For employees, it doesn’t get that personal. But that doesn’t mean you can’t expect a higher degree of engagement. You can. It creates a healthy workplace and has a direct impact on the financial performance of your organization.
The key is making everyone feel like a stakeholder. That’s why even the janitor should know that ROI stands for return on investment.
Informed employees are engaged employees
When someone accepts a job at your company, they most likely go through some type of “onboarding” process whereby they learn about their job duties, benefits, what the company does, and who their supervisors are. Sometimes it goes beyond that, but it usually doesn’t.
To have an engaged workforce, employees should be taught as part of their onboarding process about:
- The products or services your company sells and how they stand out from the competition
- How your company makes money
- The relationship between revenues and expenses
- How decisions every employee makes impacts the performance of the company overall
Even if the new employee is at an entry level and/or with a minimal ability to have a meaningful impact on performance, it’s essential that they be given this information. Sharing knowledge about your business invites employees to engage beyond their job duties. By engaging, they are going to be alert and informed with a sense of how their decisions, interactions and observations relate to the company’s revenues and expenses.
Engaged employees think like owners
Once employees are engaged in the business, they’ll start to think like owners. When the janitor realizes that recommending a less expensive and equally effective cleaning solution can have a positive impact on the entire company, they’ll make the recommendation. Frontline employees across your organization are best qualified to make decisions about their specific area of expertise. Many times they keep valuable knowledge to themselves for lack of concern and engagement. How many cost-saving or revenue-generating ideas are trapped inside unmotivated or disengaged employees? Their detailed knowledge and daily experience can yield extremely profitable insights. Large companies spend billions of dollars annually trying to “capture and share knowledge” across their enterprises. While technology-based solutions exist to facilitate this process, it all begins with the employee who cares enough about the company to want to share it.
You don't need 100 percent success for this to work
Not all employees will respond to this type of treatment by owners. For many, it will be the first time they have ever experienced this type of openness. For those that do respond, the benefits of having informed, engaged, and concerned employees will more than compensate for the additional training costs.