Of course, clients are important—business wouldn’t be possible without them. But the best way to serve clients is to make sure you have the best staff in place. I strongly believe your employees should come first in every way possible.
How do you put your employees first?
Another important aspect, which can at times be overlooked, is respect and trust. Implementing a horizontal organizational structure and putting the power back in the hands of your staff can display a commitment to treating your employees as adults. As the President of Potomac, part of my job is to gather HR best practices and openly discuss the options with all our employees.
Our vacation policy had mixed reviews among staff members and, while generous, it lacked in certain areas. For example, a “use it or lose it” policy was included that specified a set amount of vacation days that had to be taken by the end of the year. This led to some interesting outcomes, such as more time off requested in December so any unused vacation days don’t go to waste. Concerns also surfaced around dealing with children and an inflexible vacation policy (i.e. employees saving vacation days in case they have a sick child).
A new and improved policy needed to be crafted based on the feedback that was provided. Many different variations of a policy were crafted that could serve the needs of every employee. Then it hit me–why do I care about any of this? If adults were hired to work at Potomac, then they should be treated as such.
It was decided that the best way to implement a PTO policy was to get rid of it all together. Employees are free to come and go as they please, take as much time off as needed, manage their work and personal responsibilities as an adult. The service provided to our clients should be top-notch, and as an adult each employee needs to find the best work/life balance to make this happen. Like anything there are pros and cons, but there were plenty of positive reasons to move in this direction.
Reason 1: Life is unscheduled
Reason 2: Relationships are built on trust
What better way to convey trust than to make the employee their own HR manager? As an owner, you are telling every employee that you trust them to find the best work/life balance for their individual life.
Reason 3: Time off is personal
Under an unlimited plan, employees don’t need to come up with reasons or excuse to take time off. In most cases, I don’t even want to know. My common response to their requests is, “Do what you need to do”.
Reason 4: Promotes company values
There are different ways companies demonstrate and champion their values. One of the most telling is in the way their benefits program is designed.
Companies who care only about making money and bolstering their bottom line tend to offer the bare minimum when it comes to benefits. Profitability for these firms often comes by squeezing employee wages, skimping on insurance and retirement benefits and curtailing paid time off, all while working their staff into the ground. Not only does employee satisfaction suffer under these conditions, so does productivity and client satisfaction.
Instead of focusing on money and profitability as the solitary goal, businesses that truly believe in and are built around the value of client service understand the link between employee wellbeing and productivity. You can tell which firms care about their clients by looking at how their employees are compensated, what benefits are provided, and what the firm does to promote a positive work/life balance.
Reason 5: Quality time counts more than quantity time
All our employees are full-time salaried employees who don’t work on commission. We structure our compensation packages around the work that is accomplished and how happy our clients are. There are no time clocks in our office–the sole focus of each employee’s day is on the quality of the work, not the quantity of the hours spent working. Our daily work hours may vary depending on each employees’ personal demands and our client needs.
That’s not to say our employees don’t work full days or are hardly ever in the office. I can tell you that’s not the case. By entrusting our employees with responsibilities for client happiness and satisfaction, they are more dedicated to the work they do every day and find fulfillment in time well spent with our clients. The quality of hours our employees spend with clients is more valuable to us than the quantity of hours they spend in the office.
The keys to making it work
The key to making this policy work is in how well a team functions together. Vacation requests are still submitted and approved to ensure adequate coverage is in place. As a small company, each employee is essentially their own HR manager, but they must work together to make sure there is no disruption to our ultimate goal–to provide the best customer service in the business.
The policies we’ve adopted aren’t for all companies and a lot depends on the unique demands of your business. But that’s really the point—you should examine and design your policies around the specific needs of your employees and your business, meaning your clients. And if you’re business is focused on client satisfaction, as ours is, then promoting employee satisfaction and fulfillment should be at the heart of your company policies.
If you have any questions please us the link below to contact us or visit our website at www.potomacfund.com to view our team or learn more about us.