Tales from the Wendy House

I was chatting to a colleague this morning about the difference between companies who put profit first and those that put people first. We posed the question – is it possible to have both?

My colleague cited a company they knew who made a loss but had the best employee benefits available. I cited a company that would not give any benefits to it’s people because they had investor breathing down their neck to make more return on investment.

Any investment, whether it be in machinery, buildings or the type of coffee machine for the Airstream meeting room has to show a return on investment. We shouldn’t be afraid of thinking this. That return will all be down to the overall culture of the business though.

A few years ago I visited a company that had slides, table tennis, free everything pretty much for its people, but its employee turnover was high. People worked extremely long hours, were under a lot of pressure and there was a string of employment tribunals in the system. Return on investment would be negative here clearly.

It’s not easy to measure culture or return on investment in the culture. Either way, when we spend money on our culture, it has to be sincere, it has to have a measurable return on investment and it has to be the right thing for your business.

Here’s my top 5 tips to think about before investing:

1) Ask your people what they think – don’t assume you know
2) Measure, measure, measure impact (before and after)
3) Ask any provider of services for reference sites and speak to them
4) Challenge the board on the impact of doing nothing
5) Use Champions to promote your incentive – don’t just tell

My final point here is that anything you do has to be because it is the right thing to do (this is why I get a bit fluffy). Culture is the blood pressure of an organisation. Not enough and people feel weak and unloved, too much and you’re in danger of exploding the good will you already have.

Happy Easter everyone!

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