Take Care of Employees and They’ll Take Care of Business

1 Jul

I love attending the local Best Places to Work events where companies are recognized for their efforts to create engaging work environments. They are celebrations of workplaces that have created the conditions where people choose to work hard, care deeply about their associates and customers, and employees have a commitment to stay and grow with their employer.

At one such event Microsoft was recognized as a Best Place to Work. They frequently appear on these local lists, and have often been tapped in the annual list published by Fortune magazine. As part of the description of why Microsoft made this local list it was noted that they were one of the first U.S. employers to offer a benefit where employees who have children diagnosed on the autism spectrum can receive early intervention therapy services to support their development.

Let me go on record here-I have a child with autism, and am very familiar with these services. Although they are widely recognized as helpful to children who suffer from autism (including an endorsement from the Surgeon General) they are not typically paid for by private insurance. Most families, including ours, pay for these services out-of-pocket. Having an employer like Microsoft fund these therapeutic services through their health insurance program is a tremendous benefit to families who have a child with this condition. (An article in the Seattle Business Journal offers more details about the benefit.)

I tip my hat to Microsoft for the efforts to help families like mine (and I hope you consider advocating for such a benefit where you work), but the other part of the story is this: Microsoft is listening to the needs of their employees and offering benefits to address those needs. They received numerous requests from employees, who told the company their stories and made their cases for why this would be an important benefit. And to their credit, the company responded.

In our research into the elements that drive highly engaged workplaces we note that an employer’s ability to support the well being of their employees is a key driver. It’s also one that has increased in importance over the last five years. We speak at length about this in chapter nine of our new book, Re-Engage as well as an article in the May, 2010 issue of workspan. Employees who believe their companies genuinely care about them and their families are more likely to be engaged, productive employees. In this case Microsoft saw value in funding autism services. For another company it might be a wellness benefit. In yet another company the employees may find additional support for continuing education to be of value.

What’s clear is this-employees will care more about work when they believe their employers cares about them.

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