At the risk of sounding like a TED talk or an ad for hair growth serum, I’m going to reveal a life-changing secret in this month’s blog post. Actually, it’s all in the headline. While other companies squeeze their employees for every last ounce of productivity, ditch holiday parties in favor of cereal breaks where attendees provide their own cereal (true story), and do all they can to remind staff that they’re replaceable, RDG takes the opposite approach: We hire people who would be hard to replace, and trust them to do good work. Last year, RDG implemented a new program that allowed employees to work from home on Fridays during the summer. It started because a couple of us were struggling with childcare arrangements once our kids were out of school for the year. In the interest of fairness, we offered the option of work-from-home Fridays to all employees; we thought it would be a good morale builder and incentive to get work done. In addition to work-from-home Fridays, we also work “summer hours,” finishing work at 3 PM on Fridays unless we’re on a tight deadline.
Obviously, benefits like these can only be maintained if we remain available for client emergencies, hit our deadlines and otherwise do stellar work. To be honest, I actually work harder and put in longer hours here than anyplace else I’ve worked, and the rest of the team does the same. But the satisfaction of being able to run a load of laundry while I work—or sit in the sun in my back yard while I work through some thorny client issue—is more than a fair trade-off. It really is the little things. The atmosphere at RDG is one of trust, personal responsibility, empowerment and flexibility. We know, because we see it, that when our employees come to work less stressed about their personal obligations, they work more efficiently and produce better creative work.
The choice between a carrot and a stick is really no choice at all. When businesses treat employees like human beings, trust them to do their jobs well, and reward them when they do, the result is lower turnover, higher productivity and a better bottom line.