Last Updated Jun 2, 2011 1:17 PM EDT
Most companies are operating in the dark ages when it comes to supporting their employees and are missing a huge opportunity. There are three kinds of employees: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. What kind of employees do you want? Your goal should be to discover how to create superstar employees -- the not-so-technical term for those employees who are more productive, creative, loyal, satisfied, entrepreneurial, and who call in sick less often, stay with the company longer, provide greater discretionary effort, and who are able to leap over ordinary employees in a single bound.
But isn't this what organizations have been trying to do? Of course. They invest billions of dollars and spend countless hours teaching their employees how to become better leaders and managers, how to be more efficient and productive, and provide training in work-flow processing and organization. Like Dr. Phil famously asks his intractable guests, "How's that workin' for ya?" Survey says . . . not so good.
The relationship between employers and employees is at a breaking point. The latest research suggests employees are becoming increasingly dissatisfied and disengaged. The Corporate Leadership Council offers some sobering statistics: Almost 60 percent of organizations report that they are experiencing a leadership crisis, which is an increase of 40 percent from just a year earlier. Worse yet, the number of employees that are "highly disengaged" has doubled since early 2008. The research also found a dramatic increase in "spiritual turnover" - what they define as employees being physically present in the workplace but not deeply engaged in their work. If that wasn't bad enough, the results of a recent Conference Board study show 55 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with their work, which was the lowest level ever recorded in more than 22 years of studying the issue.
So how can you create superstar employees? The answer may surprise you. Stop focusing all of the company's resources into the employee's working hours and start focusing some of these resources on the individual's off hours. Historically, employers have focused on the employee and improving her skills, attitude, and performance at work. But the latest academic research suggest employers can reap incredible benefits if they focus less on the employee during work hours and more on the individual during their other 8 hours. Sound too radical?
It wasn't long ago that work-life balance was a radical concept, but work-life balance now ranks as one of the most important workplace attributes -- second only to compensation, according to research conducted by the Corporate Executive Board among more than 50,000 global workers. And employees who feel they have a better work-life balance tend to work 21% harder than those that don't.
A potentially much larger and more impactful trend that goes beyond work-life balance will be work-life enrichment - the creation of programs and services that support and enhance the employee's life. Employers should be doing everything they can to help their employee's create a richer life that is easier, better and more fulfilling. Again, not necessarily at the office but at home. The more your employees are passionate, grateful, healthy and happy after 5:00 p.m., the more productive, creative and efficient they will be at 9:00 a.m.
Think this is all feel-good psychobabble? Remember, I wrote the column, "Greed is Good: Why You Need to Tap Into Your Inner Gordon Gekko." Employers should not just do this because it is the right thing to do, but because it makes financial sense! Some of the most successful and progressive companies in the world like Google, SAS, Chesapeake Energy, Zappos and others are realizing the power of helping their employees during the other eight hours and are seeing some amazing results including increased:
- Job satisfaction
- Discretionary effort
- Leadership qualities
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