As an employer should we care about the employee's welfare?


6

Do you think as an employer we should care about the employee's welfare? Should we care about our employees' financial difficulties, and raise their salaries [i.e because prices are going up] or lend them money when they need it [i.e when they are having new babies]? What do you think? Should we care or even ask them if they have financial difficulties? Or is this completely un-professional? Thanks for sharing your experiences about this.

Employees Human Resources

asked Dec 5 '10 at 07:59
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Jpartogi
1,342 points

8 Answers


8

Your employee's personal finances aren't your business. Asking would be extremely unprofessional. I wouldn't get in the business of being their lender, ever. If they are having babies, that's their job to plan for -- and enabling their ignorance of that responsibility through advances and such isn't helping. Pay should be based on value to the company.

I would offer to write letters of recommendation for a good employee who is seeking a loan for a house or car (being able to show a lender that your job isn't going anywhere can help you leverage a lower rate). I would also, to the degree that it is possible in your particular business, work around things like letting an employee work remotely when their kid is home sick; It makes things both easier and less expensive for both of you.

The conditions that effect your employees' finances are relevant to your business. I saw one small company go from great to bankruptcy in about a year when they failed to respond to cost-of-living increases in their area with increased pay for their top performers. They lost their most valuable people to companies in less-expensive cities, or local companies that offered substantially higher salaries.

answered Dec 5 '10 at 08:49
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Hedge Mage
1,438 points

7

You can show you care about your employees and their families by your culture, benefits and the way you treat them.

For example:

  • allow flexible time for work
  • offer additional vacation time instead of raises for us people who prefer that over money
  • offer day care or dry cleaning or lawn cutting services or stipend
  • pay for gym memberships
  • pay for financial consulting from outside firms - and make it available for all employees
  • pay for continuing education or encourage it
  • bring in speakers on lunch hours or after work

etc.

Being nosy is bad. Caring about the people you work with is good.

A few years ago one of our coworkers had another baby. His family was overwhelmed for a few reasons. One of the guys was trying to think of a gift or money. I suggested instead of a gift we all go over to his house one weekend and take care of all the yard chores and things that had been neglected as a gift. It was appreciated far more than a new baby outfit or a gift certificate and we all had a good time. (Yard cleanup, pool cleaned and uncovered, repaired the lawnmover, cleaned gutters, mowed lawn, etc.)

answered Dec 5 '10 at 13:27
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Tim J
8,346 points
  • I really like this approach. Thanks for sharing. :-) – Jpartogi 9 years ago
  • Really good reply – Click Upvote 9 years ago

4

If an employee's performance or demeanor at work is suffering, you should definitely ask what's going on. While I wouldn't recommend lending money from the business, there are all kinds of things you might be able to do on a personal level.

You might also be surprised by what you find out.

I had one employee who was depressed because his parents were taking his entire salary to prop up their failing business. A sympathetic ear helped and he later became a model employee.

Another employee was crying at work because her family was pressuring her into an arranged marriage and threatening to kidnap her if she resisted. Arranging a safe house and making a call to a lawyer helped her get her family to back off, and the entire company was present when she later married the guy she really loved.

answered Dec 5 '10 at 15:02
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Bob Murphy
2,614 points
  • Bob you make some great points, and nothing is more important than employee morale, a bad employee morale can spread quickly like a wildfire in your organization. I agree with your points but would caution not to overstep. It depends on your business and the employee, but in a corporate environment could be a recipe for disaster. You need to be in tune to what is going on, you need to CARE (ask the question asked), but you need to keep the advice and handling of disgruntled, or depressed employees discreet, professional, and refer them to outside resources if necessary. Its kind of sad ... – Frank 9 years ago
  • ..that this was even a question. Its common sense. – Frank 9 years ago
  • @Franky B: I completely agree about not overstepping, and +1 for "You... need to CARE". If you don't care about your employee as a person as well as an economic productivity unit, it's best not to inquire too deeply about their situation. When my wife was recovering from cancer surgery and my work slipped, someone bluntly saying "Crank it up" was fine. Fake sympathy is obvious to most folks, and just makes the recipient feel worse. – Bob Murphy 9 years ago
  • @bob, first best wishes for your wife. I can relate to that story and wish you and her the best. The sad thing is that we are even having this conversation, I keep going back to why was this question even asked. I cannot imagine a workplace where you treat employees like robots and replaceable. Bottom line, as a human you always care, you do what you can do in your professional capacity to accommodate struggles (financial and personal), and perhaps in a personal capacity for other things. – Frank 9 years ago
  • @Franky B: Unfortunately, not really caring is all too common. I've seen that a lot, both in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. I've worked places that went through the outward motions of caring, but when it came down to a choice between delaying a delivery and employees' health breaking down, the employees were thrown under the bus. One of my favorites was when we were asked to neglect our families to push a release out the door, and then in the middle of a crunch work day, expected to attend a "team-building" booze party that would wreck us for coding the rest of the day. (I went home.) – Bob Murphy 9 years ago
  • @bob, gotta love those "mandatory" team building parties. Maybe one of the perks of running your own business is that you set the moral agenda. – Frank 9 years ago
  • I want to know more about what happened with that girl/arranged marriage/kidnapping. I bet they were muslims? – Click Upvote 9 years ago
  • @Click: No, they were Jains. I couldn't figure it out. Supposedly, Jainism is all about non-violence, not causing harm, acceptance and toleration, and only accepting from people what they're willing to give. But kidnapping, threats, and forced marriage don't count? – Bob Murphy 9 years ago
  • @Franky B: "Mandatory" company functions can really suck, but some team-building activities can be pretty cool. Apple used to be famous for amazing parties and offsites to celebrate shipping new products. My wife and I had a company in the 90s, and we borrowed a page from Apple's book - we took all the employees and their significant others for a week in a villa on the beach in Belize. – Bob Murphy 9 years ago

2

Agree you shouldn't ask directly, but should be open to certain requests. Some employees may want over-time and others may prefer they do not. Allowing some flexibility in scheduling can provide opportunities for someone to work at a second job. The total amount of bonuses may not be as important as timing. Getting the holiday season bonus a little early may prevent over-use of credit cards.

You have to know enough about your employees as a whole and decide if giving some type of advance on salary/loan will negatively impact the team.

Part of running a business is being in touch with local economic factors that affect hiring. Emphatically stating you don't care about employee's financial problems is a quick way foster resentment. After all, do you want them to care about yours?

answered Dec 5 '10 at 10:09
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Jeff O
6,169 points
  • THat is a good thought. But what if we see it the other way around? What if when we care about their financial difficulties they will also have concern with the company's growth and contribute more? – Jpartogi 9 years ago

2

Even the hardest-hearted employer knows that an employee's motivation and effectiveness will be affected by personal financial circumstances. So, for instance, offering employees access to qualified financial planning advice is a win-win. And employers who want to build a positive culture with loyal and valued staff will be ready to go further,

I would always expect a supervisor to be ready to offer a confidential listening ear for any and every issue, and that certainly includes personal finances. And sometimes it will make sense, for instance, to offer a good employee an advance against future income to help get through a temporary issue.

Intruding into someone's private life is clearly a matter for sensitivity. But again if a supervisor saw that someone's motivation or effectiveness had taken a turn for the worse, it's perfectly professional and appropriate to ask if there's some issue at work or at home - with appropriate sensitivity of course.

answered Dec 5 '10 at 18:56
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Jeremy Parsons
5,197 points

1

In Germany the Entrepreneur Wolfgang Grupp who runs Trigema (textile company) is actually doing these things. If his employees have money issues or other problems they can go to him and ask him for help. Actually he even guarantees that his employees' kids get a job at his company if they don't get one elsewhere.

And he is really successful. But he runs his company very centralistic. He regularly visits of the dozens of stores and checks with his own eyes whether every store is operating well. He is really paying attention to the detail, checking the books, how the products are visible to the customer, how wares are ordered and so on...

answered Dec 5 '10 at 16:54
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Philip
113 points
  • Nice. So it doesn't sound a bad idea to care about your employee's welfare. – Jpartogi 9 years ago
  • "Actually he even guarantees that his employees' kids get a job at his company if they don't get one elsewhere".. find it hard to accept that this is a good policy.. – Roopesh Shenoy 9 years ago
  • Why do you find it hard to accept that it is a good policy? – Jpartogi 9 years ago

0

The bottom line is that if your employees are worried about other things their performance is going to suffer. I hire a lot of sales persons over the years, most for highly paying commission positions. One thing I learned quickly was to give my employees a big base where they could cover all their possible expenses. Now this was reasonable for each position,

I now hire a lot of developers in offshore countries, this is to lower our bottom line but also because what I can afford to pay is a great salary for someone living in Belarus or the Urkaine. Bottom line, when your employees are happy, you are happy.

Its not the only element in building a strong team and company morale, but its a critical one..

answered Dec 5 '10 at 11:40
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Frank
2,079 points

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Try looking at it from your perspective.

If you were the employee and you had a few problems, would you want your employer to care about them or get involved? Viewing it from this angle will likely help you out with what you are lookign for in an answer.

answered Dec 5 '10 at 13:00
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Smart Company Software
1,190 points

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