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Rohrer: More than a paycheck

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By Jim Rohrer

The Business Roundtable, an organization of big businesses, caused a stir recently when it proclaimed that the purpose of business is not to serve only the interests of their shareholders. The organization’s spokesman, J.P. Morgan Chairman Jamie Dimon, announced that the group is broadening its focus by saying “Shareholder interests and stock prices shouldn’t always come first.” Their new idea is that “good corporate governance should also include the interests of employees, customers and society at large.”

There are good reasons why the nearly 200 chief executives who make up the Business Roundtable decided to broaden the definition of the purpose of business in society. Today’s consumers are more and more likely to make buying decisions based on the actions and image of the company.

I’ll bet there is at least one company you avoid because it doesn’t support ideas that you think are important. Wells Fargo reported significant losses in deposits after its 2017 scandal.

So, the change probably doesn’t come with some lightning bolt of altruism but also because customers, particularly young ones who will be there for the long run, are redirecting their thinking. Whatever the reason, it’s good that they are grasping the idea that they have a responsibility to society to become a good corporate citizen.

Employees are also speaking to businesses because of the difficult hiring environment. There are more jobs to be done than there are workers. Each day, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 and many retire or seek part-time employment. The low unemployment rate is making business leaders think about how they can become more attractive to their current and future employees.

Working with a large local employer who was losing employees at an alarming rate taught me that while pay and benefits are important, there are other important considerations. Employees want to be proud of their employer. They want the organization to embrace positive ideas that speak to the honesty and goodness of their employer. They want these ideas to be up to date, not based on old ideas that are no longer valid.

Employees look at how other employees are treated. They demand that discipline be fair and not arbitrary. They expect accountability as well and don’t support employees who are allowed to get by with not “doing their job.” They care about understanding the goals of the organization as well as how they make important contributions to achieving those goals.

We read about companies such as Amazon and Starbucks who are making dramatic increases to employees pay. This may be an effective approach, but not all employers can hand out raises like candy. They should follow the Business Roundtable’s lead. Find out what matters to your current employees and give them more of it.

Small business owners have a big advantage as they can really get to know their people and find out what’s important to them. If they take the time to find out, they will see that it’s about more than a paycheck.

Jim Rohrer of Evergreen is a business consultant and author of the bi-books “Improve Your Bottom Line … Develop MVPs Today” and “Never Lose Your Job … Become a More Valuable Player.” Jim’s belief is that common sense is becoming less common. (More about Jim at www.theloyaltypartners.com.)