By CEO & Founder Adam Witty
Just under half of U.S. workers said they felt satisfied with their jobs last year — the happiest they’ve been in a decade, according to a report from the Conference Board, a business research association. Good news for (half of) America!
But then there’s the rest… the other half who aren’t satisfied with your jobs. According to research by the Dale Carnegie Institute, 80 percent of employees who aren’t happy with their supervisors claim that they’re disengaged and ultimately, less productive. As an entrepreneur, CEO, and business leader, this worries me.
I don’t want half my employees unhappy (for their sake)…or less productive (for my sake).
That’s why when I founded Advantage Media Group in 2005, I aimed to make my organization different. I would defy the odds! I’d create an environment that people looked forward to every single day.
How did I do?
Well, I didn’t. I fell flat on my face.
Five years in, the people of Advantage grumbled just as much as any other organization. I am certain that Advantage Team Members were no more happy or fulfilled than any other organization.
That is when I had an awakening.
First, I learned that creating a great environment that people looked forward to entering had to start at the top. My business priorities changed. Now, the #1 priority of the leadership team at Advantage is Team Member Happiness. Not profits. Not customers. If my employees were happy, they will take care of our customers and our customers will take care of profitable growth.
My second revelation was that happiness is all about perspective. It is easy for the boss to assume it is the employee’s responsibility to be happy and it’s easy for the employee to assume it is the boss’s responsibility to make them happy. But both are wrong — happiness in the workplace is a two-way street. Companies should strive to make their employees happy and employees should strive to make their employers happy by doing great work.
My final revelation was my biggest one yet. If an organization wants to be great, it is the responsibility of the organization to help its employees achieve their dreams.
That was my ‘a-ha’ moment.
As an entrepreneur, my dream is to create a globally recognized organization that is best in class and I am fortunate to have Team Members who are dutifully working alongside me to make it come true.
But these people have personal and professional dreams of their own. So what if Advantage could become a company that actively encouraged and worked to help its Team Members achieve their dreams? This could be a game changer.
In 2014 I read a book titled The Dream Manager. I also met a man named John Ratliff, the Founder and former CEO of Appletree Answers. In the book, the author makes the point that if you help your employees achieve their dreams, it creates a level of enthusiasm, excitement, and loyalty like nothing else…something more than money, perks, and big fancy titles can ever achieve. John Ratliff went on to create a program at his company called ‘Dream On’ which granted the dreams of his employees. This blew me away.
In August of 2014, I set out to help all Advantage Team Members define their dreams. We asked each person to share their personal and professional dreams — family, financial, fitness, spiritual, travel, career, and fun. Then we created two colorful, uniquely designed 2’ x 3’ dreamboards for every Team Member — one for home, one for office.
Why dreamboards? First, every person deserves something beautiful to look at daily to remind them of the dreams they have.
Second, when you share your dreams with others, they actively help and motivate you to accomplish them.
Third, when your manager knows your dreams, he or she can actively work to help you make those dreams come true. Employees rarely leave managers and companies that are actively working to help them achieve their dreams.
Finally, as a business owner always on the lookout for quality talent, what a dramatic differentiator. I am not aware of any company in our industry that does this.
This is when I borrowed John Ratliff’s ‘Dream On’ idea.
On Christmas 2014, Advantage officially launched its own Dream On. While everyone was waking up Christmas morning, one Advantage Team was unwrapping an all-expenses-paid tour to Ireland…one of their biggest dreams. Over the years, Advantage has surprised other employees with dreams-come-true based on their dreamboards: a trip to the Rockies, a stay at an ashram, a shopping spree and personal stylist, a fly fishing trip. This is just the beginning.
The reasoning is quite simple — and quite effective. The more time CEOs, leaders and managers spend helping people get what they want, the more they will help you get what you want. It is a simple law of reciprocity. It is win-win.