Change Comes From Your Office, Not Just the Oval Office

Change Comes From Your Office, Not Just the Oval Office

I don’t want to run for public office, but I want to have an impact on my community, or maybe even society as a whole. And I believe that’s possible. I’ve had this discussion with friends of mine who are business owners or leaders, declaring that I don’t think we have to be elected officials to create significant positive change. I believe that businesses, under the guidance of thoughtful leaders, can powerfully impact society, while also making money. What I really mean is that I think we can change the world, and I have every intention of doing just that. Howard Schultz once announced a Starbucks initiative called “Race Together,” which is intended to spark conversation about race relations in America. You could argue that this is a PR move, but I think that Schultz is exactly the kind of thoughtful leader who sees an opportunity to improve the world and not just his bottom line. He’s doing it by encouraging discussion, creating conversation, opening up dialogue…over a cup of coffee. I understand the debate against this effort, but I applaud Schultz’s interest in improving the world, while most business leaders are interested only in improving their cash flow. Facebook also launched a new version of its community standards. Same thing. Zuckerberg and team are changing the world by saying that some things (e.g. hate speak, bullying, intolerance) just aren’t acceptable and won’t be permitted. My own company tries to change the world through perhaps simpler efforts. Our Happiness Counts™ program is an effort to wake companies up to the idea that treating employees like people and supporting their...
What if. What next. What about now?

What if. What next. What about now?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a company’s responsibility to its team members. Here in the US, most employers understand the importance of helping employees maintain their health, providing health insurance plans and more often these days, wellness programs. I call this the “What if?” What if my employee, her spouse or kids gets sick? How can I help them stay healthy or pay for costly medical expenses? Most employers also help their employees prepare for retirement, providing pensions and programs that often include an employer match. I call this the “What next?” What will my team members do next? How will they support themselves when they retire? How can I help? But “What about now?” Sure, I want to alleviate some of life’s worries from my team members, but I also want to inspire them to be fully realized, fully engaged human beings today. And every day! I want them to come to work happy, fulfilled, engaged and inspired. I want this because I care about them. And I want this because if we’re going to ask our team members to help us grow our businesses and commit themselves fully to our goals, then I think we owe some consideration to the “what about now?” In my company, we do this by encouraging team members to set personal goals and assisting them in achieving those goals. We do this by hiring people who are passionate about life outside the walls of work. And we do this more formally through a new program called the “40 Hour Sabbatical.” Look, I’m willing to pay for my employees’ health insurance...