can do it better
leave him behind. I negotiated a dog-friendly
lease, and we’ve had up to three resident
of;ce dogs at one time.
* Small businesses often can’t compete with big corporations when it comes to pay
scale, but we can be creative with bene;ts.
My employees get their birthdays as a paid
holiday, and they get “well days.”
* I say “thank you” to my employees every day. When I worked in a big company,
management rarely acknowledged employees, fearing they’d have to give raises.
* It’s important to me that I enjoy going to work every day. That means that I want to
have some fun projects to keep me engaged,
and I also want to have fun with the people I
work with. We have lots of celebrations—
birthdays, holidays—and some spontaneous
group lunches (paid for by me).
The result of these policies? I have great
employees who work their heart out, and I’m
still in business after 25 years! And I run my
business in a way that re;ects my values.
And that’s what’s important—that you
run your business in a way that you’re proud
of, that you treat your employees the way
you’d want to be treated.
If you want to create a better way to run
a business, then it’s time to start doing it the
small-business way—your way. C
Rhonda Abrams is
the president of The
Planning Shop, a
publisher of books
and software for
ARE YOU TRYING to run your small business
as if it were a Fortune 500 company? Well,
cut it out! Small businesses can do things
differently—and, hopefully, better. After all,
you make up the rules. You have ;exibility
in how you run your company, so use it.
Of course, you have to be ;nancially
realistic—and you certainly have to obey
the law—but it’s time you give yourself
permission to run your business in a way
that makes you proud, not just that makes
I do a number of things in my business
that aren’t exactly what they teach in
business school, but they work for me and
my business. Here are just a few.
* When my of;ce manager, Rosa, had a baby, I decided she could bring baby Michael
to work. It was a good business decision;
I didn’t want to lose a valuable employee.
But it also meant I could live my values. And
it turned out to be great for morale.
* I love my dog, Cosmo, and when I outgrew my home of;ce, I didn’t want to
More in archives
On Costco.com, enter
“Connection.”At Online Edition,
search “Rhonda Abrams.”
IS THE ECONOMY affecting employees’
sense of being valued?
Are the lack of raises, reduction in bene-
fits and increased workload taking their toll?
Those are questions raised by Costco member
Cindy Ventrice, author of Make Their Day!
Employee Recognition That Works (Berrett-
Koehler, 2009), on her website, maketheirday.
com, in a survey asking, “Do you feel more or
less valued than a year ago?”
“People who don’t feel valued aren’t usu-
ally engaged or motivated, so knowing the
effect of economic changes on sense of value
is important information for companies
struggling to stay productive,” Ventrice says.
By Tom Rath
and Jim Harter
AFTER A MASSIVE
research initiative, including a
survey of more
than 150 countries, we’ve found that
most of what people think of as
well-being is wrong. Not merely health
and wealth, as is often supposed,
well-being is actually composed of five
different elements: career, financial,
community, social and physical well-being.
Though well-being may seem outside
the purview of business, our research
indicates that high levels of well-being
provide a significant productivity, profit
and competitive advantage; for instance,
the annual per-person cost of lost productivity due to sick days alone is $28,800 for people with very low levels of well-being and
$840 for those with high well-being.
Clearly, employee well-being is vital
to organizational well-being. Managers can
increase both by paying close attention to
a few key things.
Improve employee engagement. The
engaged are twice as likely as the actively
disengaged to be thriving in their lives overall; they’re 21 percent likelier to participate
in workplace wellness programs; and they
have substantially higher levels of customer
engagement, productivity and profitability.
Mentoring programs, professional
development opportunities and corporate-sponsored charitable initiatives create an
environment that stimulates community and
social well-being. Even idle chitchat in the
office improves productivity, we’ve found.
Financial well-being is more dependent
on financial security than on actual income.
Actively promote 401(k) and similar programs to boost employees’ financial well-being: Only 6 percent of workers strongly
agree that their companies help them
manage their finances effectively.
Create incentives for healthy behaviors. Employees with high well-being see
their annual medical costs grow at half the
rate of those who have lower well-being.
Career well-being is foundational. Connect people to their work, focus on their
strengths and recognize their accomplishments. C
AUGUST 2010 ;e Costco Connection 11
Tom Rath and James K. Harter are the
co-authors of Wellbeing: The Five Essential
Elements (Gallup Press, 2010).