Leader. Innovator. Creative.

June 19, 2021

Father Knows Best: The true ‘value’ of your employees

The knowledge a parent hands down to a child – rather deliberately or subconsciously, welcome or unwanted – we each absorb at different levels and accept at different phases of life.

And when the “aha moment” does kick in, just when we need it most, you realize that your parents actually DID know what they were talking about and it becomes a lesson you learn to appreciate.

As a young woman, growing up and watching my father’s personal touch with his employees, I didn’t know what to make of it. I sometimes thought he was taking too much of their opinions into consideration  (even though  he was the boss) or letting their issues and problems become his. I didn’t know it then, but what I observed was true leadership in action and it shaped me and my approach to people, business and management for years to come.

The personal touch, the asking of “How’s your family?” and actually caring about the response, is something that we value as the Worldwide Oilfield Machine team.  My father, Sudhir Puranik, grew this business from a garage in Houston, Texas to what it is today, and he did it with his trusted team by his side. Now, with over 3,000 employees, the WOM group of companies has a global presence with manufacturing facilities, engineering centers, sales offices and assembly/testing workshops all over the world. 

In honor of Father’s Day, I would like to share some of the business practices and lesson’s he’s taught me and so many others, just from leading by example. 

It is important to treat your employees as humans, and not as property. 

Employee satisfaction plays a significant role in the trajectory of your company’s success, so it seems obvious that making sure employees feel valued is at the top of your list. After all, these are individuals who have chosen to adopt your vision and goals and have dedicated seasons of their life, time they can’t get back, to  constantly work to execute them. No matter how small the role or project, it’s a contribution toward the growth and sustenance of your company

While salary and benefits are important factors for job satisfaction, a positive work environment plays a key role in performance. 

A company’s work environment should include a safe and open space, support for employee growth, and recognition for achievements, often followed by rewards or incentives. Lacking any of these components could ultimately harm the company’s stability and reputation.

High turnover rates are expensive. 

My father used to tell me, “If your company won’t support the needs and values of your employees, it won’t be long before they find that support elsewhere.” There is a significant gap in the cost of hiring new recruits and investing in a better work environment for your workers. A study conducted by the Center for American Progress found that the costs of losing an employee vary by position and wage. For example, the cost of replacing employees earning under $30,000 annually is a whopping 16% of the company’s annual salary and 20% for employees earning $30,000 to $50,000 a year. An employee that is happy and feels valued is more likely to stay loyal and contribute more to a business.

Respect is a great motivator.

Now this is not to say that respect can replace pay and benefits as a primary motivating factor, but it is a key ingredient that makes employees actually want to work. A survey conducted by Glassdoor found that 81% of respondents said they were motivated to work harder when respect was given for their work. Only 38% said they work harder in a demanding work environment and 31% said they work harder out of fear of losing their job. A work atmosphere abundant in respect and value for all motivates employees to work harder for the company, because they know that their contributions will not go unnoticed. 

Your employees can be your biggest advocates, or your worst adversaries.

I recall my father sharing his thoughts on employees as advocates; “When employees know that their employer takes interest in their work, health, and life celebrations, they are more likely to be an honest advocate on behalf of the company.”

Whether communicating with customers, clients, or new recruits, your workers’ attitude towards you as an employer and towards your business can lead to a bustling business or your greatest downfall. According to a survey from Fractl, one in three job applicants reject job offers due to negative employee reviews on job sites like Glassdoor and Indeed. Employees can take their frustrations to these sites and scare away potential new talent. You want your employees to be honest and passionate when advocating for the company, both in front of you, and in more personal spaces. 

So, we understand the benefits of a positive work atmosphere, but how do we build it?

The initial and most important step in building a positive workspace is prioritizing the ‘employee voice.’

The employee voice is giving your workers and colleagues the ability to express new ideas, concerns, and perspectives without fear of retribution. The employee voice means giving people the opportunity to influence the decisions made in the company.

There are many benefits to making sure your employees are heard. These benefits include introducing and embracing innovative ideas and methods, improving work culture, and finding solutions to problems the company might have.

While any company can give employees a voice, a good company always practices active listening. 

Your employees might share their new ideas or speak up about problems within the work environment, but without an active listener, employees can feel undervalued. 

Here are some tips I learned from my father to become a better active listener:

  • Pay attention: Nobody wants to feel like they are talking to a brick wall, and that includes your employees. Make sure you have an understanding of the ideas or problems being presented to you.
  • Refrain from judgement: Be sure to check your biases when listening to your employees. You may feel that some of your employees are inexperienced or unqualified to voice opinions on certain subjects. Have a listening ear, because you never know what perspectives these workers have to offer.
  • Clarify misunderstandings: If you don’t understand an employee’s idea or perspective, don’t hesitate to ask for elaboration on those opinions. It makes your employees feel that you are really interested in what they have to say.

A positive workspace also ensures that employees receive constructive feedback on their performance, transparency between employees and management or higher-ups in the company, and recognition and rewards for participation. 

This has worked for the WOM family, and hopefully within your company as well. 

I’m grateful to my father for being a pillar of understanding and an example of effective leadership. Watching his management and employee engagement techniques primed me with tools and strategies to achieve success in business and life.

With a focus on legacy and generational impact I am gearing up to share many of these lessons in my upcoming book, “Seven Letters to My Daughters,”  scheduled to launch in 2022.  Thank you to my father for being a beacon of light and for imparting valuable wisdom to everyone he interacts with. I guess it is safe for me to say, “Father Knows Best!”

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