The way Americans work has changed considerably over the last few years, with an increase in employees working from home, record low unemployment rates and an increased cognizance of what work should offer. This redefining of work against the backdrop of a record-breaking workforce exodus last August (when the U.S. saw over 4 million people leave their jobs) highlights how businesses that lead with employee-centered tactics have an advantage over their competitors.
Indeed, studies show that employee satisfaction holds a direct correlation to retention, and reorienting a company’s focus to what keeps employees instead of what makes them leave offers more consistent and effective solutions towards retaining quality employees. A study featured in the Harvard Business Review offers insight into the “equation” of quality employee retention, placing job satisfaction at the forefront, with elements consisting of growth opportunities, recognition and work culture.
Businesses like Magga Products, a Holly Hill-based machine company, view employee satisfaction and business success as interconnected and as a result they experience nearly no turnover. It comes as no surprise that a company boasting three decades of excellence in machine production has an “all parts matter” business approach.
Maggie Morgan, the company’s president, approaches her role with passion and sincere caring for her team. At times it seems that her employees quite actually are the business as her stories, peppered with descriptions of Magga’s equipment – more akin to an artist describing their tools, making industrial weldments sound like Michelangelo’s paintbrush – innately focus on her team.
At Magga, employee recognition and events aren’t often a planned and targeted system aimed at increasing productivity or the “bottom line” (although both are positively affected by the company’s culture). Instead, the Magga team takes a fluid approach towards employee satisfaction in which caring doesn’t end at the time clock. She describes the environment as “a sort of firehouse” where there is always food present (not unlikely to have been prepared by Morgan herself), and work and life organically combine into a space cultivated by everyone. From community involvement in food drives to day-to-day business functions, employees are treated as individuals appreciated for their strengths instead of being “welded” into a position less compatible with their talents.
Indeed, Morgan describes how life events including birthdays, report cards, graduations or hardships warrant their own iteration of attention. Morgan and her team lead with compassion as they consider one another’s mental, familial and even spiritual health.
This culture of caring, combined with benefits that include tuition reimbursement and healthcare, adheres to the “actions speak louder than words” idiom, underscoring how appreciation and caring for employees as individuals offer a simple approach to a happy and productive work environment.
When asked outright about her contributions to this culture, Morgan humbly repeats, “the story of my company is that the employees make me. You can have all the bells and whistles, but it doesn’t matter without the right team.” That appreciation permeates her recollection of her company’s history and accomplishments, carrying with them a distinct pride that goes beyond the business doors.
Despite Covid related setbacks in resources and profits, Morgan “made it work” so her employees and her community were taken care of. When asked about her company’s role during this unprecedented time, she says, “I hope we’re a light for everyone in what seems like a dark season.”
Similarly, Halifax Health shows how even a large organization with thousands of employees can lead with a people-first strategy. From staff to patients, Kim Fulcher, the Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer tells EVOLVE of Halifax’s commitment towards “one mission to make our community a better place.” This commitment manifests as an exceptional and personal engagement with employees and patients alike, beginning with the company’s CEO, Jeff Feasel, who personally recognizes employee achievements at events, including seasonal birthday celebrations, five-year work anniversaries, and recognition awards. The annual Team Member banquet, an employee favorite, is the largest event Halifax Health holds for team members and is where the team member of the year is named. Another favorite is the annual Induction Ceremony to the Halifax 100, which recognizes employees with 30+ years of service.
Fulcher goes on to say, “our very purposeful culture is rooted in Safety, Compassion, Image and Efficiency. Every year we hold 30 plus events for our team members to recommit to those quality standards and Jeff attends every session. It is this kind of leadership and commitment which keeps us all on the same page.’
The statement offers a map to employers looking to increase employee satisfaction, retention, and, yes, productivity. Whether a local machine company, a large health organization or a Fortune 500 business, a culture based in humanity, it seems, is truly the defining characteristic of an exceptional business.