What do high-performance companies do differently?

A recent Gallup study found that organizations who make a strategic investment in employee development report 11% greater profitability than those who prioritize other metrics.

In fact, the same study revealed almost 9 out of 10 millennials say professional development is very important to them in a job and “career growth opportunities” are the number one reason workers cited for changing jobs.

Interestingly, this aligns with the feedback our team of over 110 has said. In our internal job satisfaction surveys, we consistently find that the chance to “learn new skills” is the number one driver of their happiness!

After landing on the “2019 Great Place to Work” list, I’ve done some reflecting on what investing in our people really looks like and what results it produces.

If you want to grow in 2020, make investing in your people your number one priority. Here are three ways you can do so.

One: Communicate Openly and Consistently

First, open communication is a high-value way to invest in your people.

A study on the ROI of communication found that, no matter your model, leaders who make themselves accessible, visible, and communicate openly (and consistently) with their teams drive high performance.

Does this effective communication correlate to profitability? Yes! 

The same study showed that companies who communicate well generated 47% higher returns than those who didn’t—and that was over a five-year period.

Even better, effective communication creates a culture where employees are engaged, present, attuned to the needs of customers, and observant of processes and standards. And when employees are engaged and equipped with the tools they need through honest communication, companies see a 21% increase profitability.

Three quick ways to create a culture of communication like this are:

  1. Having regular one-on-ones between managers and their team members.
  2. Holding weekly stand-up meetings where entire teams, or departments, gather.
  3. Asking for direct, honest feedback rather than waiting for it to filter to leadership.

We’re often conditioned to get customer feedback and track metrics like net promoter scores. But getting feedback from our teams is just as critical for the health of our profitability, and most importantly, our people.

Two: Make Health Part of Your Business DNA

I’ve written about how doubling down on wellness is the best unintentional marketing strategy we’ve ever employed. It’s because a healthy team is a happy team, and happy teams produce incredible results and drive referrals on autopilot.

Since founding our company seven years ago, I’ve learned that investing in your people’s wellness always pays dividends.

We are in an age where we can redefine where, when, and how we work. So we’re doing that by making our model team centric. This has driven decisions like offering benefits like PTO even to our part-time employees.

This makes great fiscal sense, too.

Companies with highly effective health and productivity programs report 11% higher revenue per employee, 1.8 fewer days absent per employee per year, and 28% greater shareholder returns.

We’ve certainly seen numbers like these pan out.

We believe an investment in our team’s health is an investment in their future with us. And beyond showcasing our genuine care for their well-being, it infuses our culture with a natural edge.

Happy people are productive people.

In fact, studies have demonstrated a direct correlation between happiness and productivity. Happy employees out-produced unhappy ones by 12% on average.

What would a 10-point increase in overall productivity mean to your company? I know what it has meant for us!

Three: Allow for Flexible Schedules 

After massive research of over 50,000 global workers, Corporate Executive Board (who represents 80% of all Fortune 500 companies), employees who believe they have good work-life balance work 21% harder than those who don’t.

As a fully-remote company, we’ve gone all in on flexibility and work-life integration. Our team sets their own schedules, enjoying full autonomy over when and where they work.

Many of our team are working parents. For them, this is a dream come true. And it is for virtually all of the working U.S. population, as well.

A Werk.co survey of 1,583 U.S. professionals found that 96% said they want flexibility on the job. However, less than half of them actually get it.

The survey measured flexibility in six ways:

  • TimeShift: unconventional hours. Can employees operate outside of the traditional 9-to-5 mold?
  • MicroAgility: freedom to adapt. Can employees step away from their desks for ad hoc personal needs?
  • DeskPlus: location variety. Can employees work outside of the office environment for a portion of their time? 
  • Remote: location independence. Can employees regularly work from anywhere?
  • TravelLite: minimal travel. Can employees perform their jobs while traveling less than 4 days per month, on average?
  • PartTime: reduced workload. Can employees work on a part-time schedule?

For companies that fail at flexibility, the study found consequences like low retention rates, decreased company advocacy, less engagement, and lower diversity.

For us, we structured our entire model around work that works for our people and clients. However, even if a complete business model restructure isn’t in the cards, there are always improvements we can make (ourselves included). And these improvements will pay off.

How Do You Invest?

How does your culture rank on each of these scales? Do you openly and consistently communicate with your people? Is your team’s health a priority? Are they afforded reasonable flexibility? And if not, how can you improve?

The numbers are in. And any investment in your people will yield positive results in happiness, productivity, and your bottom line.

How else do you invest in your people?