Many things have come from the February earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. Of particular note have been the varying reactions of both employees and employers to the natural disaster. Specifically, some employees have shown uncompromising commitment to workplaces where they feel valued, the flip side has also been true. In the days following the quake many people worked extraordinary hours in the emergency services to deal with the aftermath. I have heard stories of people returning to ex-employers to help with the company’s workload when most of the current employees were too traumatised to return to work. Additionally, many employees were back at work within days out of pure loyalty to ensure the business kept functioning over such a unique and stressful time. From the organisational side, some Christchurch business’s offered their employee’s basic needs such as food, water and shelter. Other companies brought in washing machines and dryers and portable showers to be used by their employees and families. It was also not uncommon for organisations to provide paid-time off to allow employees time to recover. Such displays of support from both employees and business’s leads to the question : why is it that some employees and organisations exceeded what might have been expected of them, when others did not?
In my opinion the answer is simple really – value your employees and they will value the organisation they work for in return. I recently found an interesting website which conducts annual employee satisfaction surveys in Canada. They reported that employees who feel valued and invested-in are clearly more likely to place higher levels of value and investment in their company. The findings also stated the obvious – companies which implement internal communication initiatives have higher levels of productivity. I can hear companies now retorting that they can’t afford the large amounts of investment that it requires to put such initiatives in place. Interestingly, according to the survey, the top places to work are also some of the highest grossing in Canada. Why do companies often only see the initial ‘cost’ to implement something and yet fail to see the long-term benefits?
Valuing employees doesn’t always mean cold hard cash. Simple programs such as flexi-hours and promoting a work-life balance were suggested. As an employee, sometimes just knowing that your input not only matters but is listened to, is the greatest reward of all. How much does it really cost to value your employees when the return on that investment can be so high as was demonstrated by the Canterbury Earthquake? It’s worth thinking about. Who knows when you will next need to rely on your employees in a difficult and stressful situation.