The Occupy# movement which is growing throughout our cities has implications that stretch beyond the obvious. This movement is not just about the unemployed and underemployed, but
Through these stressful times business owners and leaders are gaining the unique opportunity to stand out from that cynicism and negativity, and to come forward as a company that cares.
What Steps Can Business Leaders Take?
Executive compensation – I read a recent report from the Economic Policy Institute that said in 1965 the average CEO was paid 24x what the average employee received. In recent years that number has been as high as 300x that amount. This disparity is unacceptable to many.
While some would argue that talent retention requires competitive income, I would suggest that retention comes instead from a person’s respect for a company’s core qualities including its values, the products or services it provides, and its customer’s or clients. Financial compensation only becomes of primary importance when one or more of those core qualities are missing.
Rather than keeping up with the Jones’ in CEO compensation, reconsider what would be an acceptable income and make that change. As an added boost to your image, make the change public. Rather than hiding this scaling back, challenge other organizations to follow your lead.
If this idea strikes a cord with you, and you think that in a competitive marketplace that it is not possible, look for an up-coming article I am writing which elaborates on the subject.
Political contributions – Let’s face it, Google has made research nearly effortless. So while you may be focusing your online attention to SEO and social networking, some may be Googling you for different reasons. If you are making notable contributions to either party, or to lobbyist or other groups, be aware of the potential message this sends out. Your affiliations, once known, affect the perception of both your employees and your customers. What can you do? If you donate money or resources, consider doing it as a personal rather than a business contribution. Where possible, be open to addressing any controversy by putting the topic on the table for discussion and explain your point of view. Most importantly, be aware of the impact this may have on your image and act accordingly.
Flexibility and Understanding – Those same financial pressures are affecting both your employees bottom-line and that of your business. Sure you can’t give bonuses this year. But you can find creative ways to show you appreciate your staff and care about them. In lieu of bonuses perhaps allow an extra day off, a more flexible work schedule (holiday or year-round), even encourage them to organize an in-house secret-Santa to celebrate the holidays. These small efforts will pay long dividends as your team of employee’s feels you understand and care about them.
Creating a workforce that is happy, cohesive, and dedicated to the success of your business is the goal of any leader. Demonstrating you care about them and their concerns is just one important step. If your team is not exactly where you’d like them to be, we’d like to help you get there.