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"The Forgotten Give and Take in Organisations."

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

In my previous article a couple of months ago, I delved into the challenges companies face in recruiting and retaining top-notch talent and the paramount significance of fostering an inspired company culture for the future of our companies.

But let’s face it, if we want to reinvigorate our corporate culture, just anticipating employees' needs won't cut it. We need to find a way to take care of the needs of all interested parties in our organisation. It is not just about pleasing employees nor achieving financial objectives at all cost—it's about making everyone, from owners to employees, genuinely happy and satisfied.

Leadership coaches around the globe are continuously preaching that employee well-being and the need for an empathetic work environment is the pinnacle of leadership. Sometimes it feels like the pendulum swings from an outdated "Don't care, just deliver" mentality to an unrealistic "Wellness over business" approach. The truth, as so often, lies somewhere between these two poles.

As entrepreneurs we are in this game to create value, for our companies, our employees and as important, for ourselves.

Sure, we want our company to thrive financially, but solely focusing on the bottom line and archaically pushing for employee efficiency will eventually put our mid/long-term survival at risk. On the flip side, placing a sole emphasis on well-being alone without accountability won't get us very far either.

Now, you might think I've joined the dark side of business exploitation, but hear me out. The needs of today's employees have evolved, and we'd be foolish not to embrace those changes. Looking back 120 years, when Henri Ford provided decent housing for his workers, or even earlier when DuPont prioritised worker safety! They did this because they understood the needs of their time and that a happy worker is a productive worker. And for both companies those moves paid off big time, as they are still leaders in their respective industries to this day.

And guess what? Today is no different. We must respect and adapt to the needs of our workforce. So, what are those needs? Self-actualization and purpose, that's what drives today's employees. To create the next Ford or DuPont, we have to create a work-environment that allows employees to find meaning in their work and fulfils their need for belonging.

Now, how do we achieve such a shared continuous success?

It's quite simple—the magic formula is called ‘Shared Responsibility’. Yes, you heard it right. Everyone involved needs to take ownership.

I extensively covered the responsibility a Founder/CEO has to embrace. So let’s talk for a moment about the employee's responsibility.

People in an organisation need to take responsibility for their work ethic and their mindset. Work is first and foremost an activity designed to contribute to a common objective. It's not just about a successful company neither about the one-sided well-being of employees — Work is merely a vehicle for every party involved to find happiness in their lives.

If the company falls short of its end of the bargain, namely to establish the environment for an inspired company culture, employees can move on and find one that values them as a human being and as a professional. It's all part of the journey, gaining experience and seeking the environment that truly deserves the dedication of top-notch talent.

In conclusion: Shared Responsibility is not a burden; it's a gift waiting to be embraced by everybody. And in order to profit from this gift, both need to shift their priorities. Founders and CEOs have to set their sights on long-term shared success rather than short-term financial profit. And employees? Well, it's time to ask JFK’s question, "Ask yourself what you can do for your company?" rather than “What can my company do for me?”

"Inspiration provokes happiness! Employers and employees together create the inspired organism that sets the stage for extraordinary impact in any economic environment."

Marco Houwen |


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