There is a saying attributed to Al Davis, the eccentric, long-time owner of the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, that sums up his policy regarding the indulgence of individual expression on the part of his players: “Just win, baby.” In other words, as long as his teams are winning, he is not concerned with the color cleats they choose to wear, how long they keep their hair, or anything else that might violate the more button-down policies enforced by other teams.
That sort of represents how I feel about a workplace that flies in the face of convention. I have always believed that if you have a company full of adults…real adults…then those people can handle a work environment that makes concessions on behalf of quality of life, and if anyone in the group cannot seem to manage the greater freedoms and flexibility that come with that, the answer is to rid the company of that person, rather than configuring the workplace into something unfeeling, unbending, and even suffocating.
Glassdoor (www.glassdoor.com) is a free website that offers visitors the ability to get an inside look at jobs, careers, and workplaces. One of the more interesting pieces of information they’ve created is a list, compiled on the basis of votes from the employees themselves, of those companies that are best at balancing work with personal life on behalf of their workers. The results of the 2011 survey can be found here:
Some of the names on Glassdoor’s list aren’t surprising, given that they’re companies that are a manifestation of more recent cultural and technological evolutions, and thus maintain a more “progressive” outlook on life and work: for example, Facebook makes the list, as does MTV. However, a number of companies are those that have been around for a long, long time, and that provide goods and services of a more traditional nature – Chevron, Dupont, and General Mills among them.
In my capacity as a manager, I’ve always chosen to create a benevolently-managed workplace. I see no compelling reason not to do so, and can instantly think of a lot of good reasons to do it. Accommodating the basic family needs of hardworking employees, including the last minute crises that come up from time to time, is something I’ve always considered to be quite reasonable, and making that investment in my people always yielded great dividends in terms of productivity and loyalty. Moreover, there’s no reason why the workplaces themselves cannot be environments from which the employees derive great pleasure and enjoyment during the day.
In the end, I expect adults to be adults. I have always managed people on an assumption made at the outset of the relationship that an earnest adult believes in working hard while he’s getting paid, knows right from wrong, and is replete with common sense. In the rare cases I found myself with an employee who lacked any or all of those basic components, I chose to terminate the employee rather than change the enjoyable culture of our workplace. Believe me…when you offer a workplace that is respectful, fun, and family-friendly…finding good people is in no way a difficult task.
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Bob Yetman, Editor-at-Large at Christian Money.com (www.christianmoney.com), is an author of a variety of materials on personal finance and investing, as well as on topics of fitness and self defense, to include the book Investor's Passport to Hedge Fund Profits (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.) and the unarmed combat training DVD Thunderstrikes – How to Develop One Shot, One Kill Striking Power (Paladin Press).