‘Putting Your Employees First’ makes your office worker-friendly (Biz & Books review)

Your office looks like Grand Central Station at rush hour.

Like that iconic location, you see many people who are older and have been around the block enough times to know the work-score. You also have younger, less-experienced people whose career journeys are just beginning. So how do you best manage a diverse group of employees like that? Read “Putting Your Employees First” by Michael Bergdahl and find out.

Your company holds a lot of assets.

You’ve got computers, furniture, office supplies, product, perhaps a fleet of vehicles, maybe an entire building. But your most important assets, says Bergdahl, are the people you’ve hired. So when did you last pay them any serious attention?

If your answer is anything other than “today,” you’re missing out. Investing in your staff and putting your employees first in the workplace offers many benefits for you and your profitability. But that’s only half the equation…

Other benefits become apparent when employees’ work-styles are considered; younger workers generally like to be managed differently than do their older peers. Part of that managing comes from knowing that leaders who display caring, empathy, and honesty get more respect. Employees work harder for those who know that kids get sick, vehicles break down, and life happens sometimes, but that doesn’t mean that a supervisor should be a pushover: an employee worth keeping will know that expectations are never erased and that the company’s goals still stand, no matter what.

To get to that point, though, takes a paradigm shift.

Supervisors still supervise, but “Employee First” workplaces rely on “employee-centered leadership, which uses a shared, more collaborative approach to making team decisions,” says Bergdahl. It requires “100 percent employee engagement,” public kudos for a job well done, trust and mutual respect, and it results in happier employees who display pride in their work, loyalty to their companies, and stellar customer service. To start, says Bergdahl, teach your managers to empower employees and to listen to them – but that’s not all. This method for a better workplace must come from the top, down.

At under 160 pages, you might think that “Putting Your Employees First” would be a quick, easy read. And you’d be absolutely correct, especially considering that there’s a lot of repetition inside these pages.

That doesn’t make this book bad, however; author Michael Bergdahl has good, albeit commonsensical, advice here and it’s usable for managers who want to embrace a different style of workplace, and for entrepreneurs looking to hire staff that work better in a uniquely-structured atmosphere. Here, there are plenty of bold-type statements, helpful worksheets to accomplish goals, and re-reiterated bullet-points — and yet, employees who require more hand-holding to do their jobs confidently and well are largely left out of the conversation in a sea of redundancy. That’s unfortunate.

Even so, and repetition notwithstanding, this book could at least make workplaces less stuffy, more worker-friendly, and quite possibly more efficient for better profitability. “Putting Your Employees First” could also mean better retention – and wouldn’t that be grand?

Terri Schlichenmeyer is the reviewer behind “The Bookworm Sez,” a self-syndicated book review column published in more than 260 newspapers and magazines in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. She can be reached for feedback at www.bookwormsez.com.


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