Employee Security Means Productivity and Bottom-Line Improvement!

A leader has the responsibility to improve business performance and improve business results by fostering a ‘secure’ nurturing environment. This is an environment where employees are secure and safe which provides the best opportunity for them to fully engage, thrive, and contribute. Most might agree with this statement when considering physical safety, but not consider the role the leader has in providing emotional security in the work environment. A leader is responsible for both! Sure, physical security is very obvious and its less challenging to put in place the infrastructure of security systems, practices, and equipment to accomplish. However, a leader also must put in the infrastructure of trust, strong relationships, and care to accomplish emotional security for employees!!

Security or being safe is a forerunner in the needs of humans, both physically and psychologically. Maslow in his well-known ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ defines safety and security as the highest need we have next to our basic needs of air, food, and shelter. Considering the simple life situation of a physical “threat” I describe below should give insight into how employees behave when their emotional security or safety is challenged or threatened in the work place.

Say you are home alone or with your family, and you are reading a book, surfing the Internet, sitting down to a meal or just enjoying a movie or TV show. Basically, you are relaxed and secure and engaged in some activity that you enjoy and/or produces something valuable to you. However, suddenly you hear a suspicious loud sound outside of one of the windows of your residence –a sound you are unable to identify that causes you alarm. Self-preservation –or safety –causes you to divert your attention from whatever enjoyable,rewarding,productive task you were doing that had value to you and immediately focus on the potential risk at hand. Taking steps to resolve the unknown, assess the risk, problem solve and develop needed steps to preserve your safety become the priority thus ending productivity towards what’s valuable! Sure if there is danger, then this activity is valuable and required! However, if there is no danger or if the distraction could have been avoided, then this diverted effort is actually a waste of time and attention.

In your residence, the time given, if there is no real threat, is not considered a loss because the feeling of relief that there is no real threat is rewarding, yet in the work place this is not the case because in the business environment, well, “time is money”! This waste is a cost in business and is experienced over and over again in an environment where employees don’t have security or feel safe. Employees have psychological concerns about the security/safety of their employment, their ability to accomplish their career goals and progress, their relationship with their leader or peers, and/or their potential for being able to do the type work they prefer day-to-day. “Threats” in these areas cause the same response as if the threat were physical! They are distraction from the productive and rewarding activities that benefit them and the company! This is a clear loss in physical and mental productivity.

A recent article published by Telero Solutions states it this way: “When employees feel they can’t trust leadership they feel unsafe, like no one has their back, and then spend more energy on self preservation and job hunting than performing at their job. Talent acquisition costs and employee turnover costs increase. (Which estimates put at between 150% –200% of the employee’s salary).” Talent acquisition cost is in addition to the cost of lower productivity and sub optimized performance in the workplace. Conversely, in high Trust work environments, these losses are kept to a minimum, which means the business benefits with a higher level of productivity, effectiveness and growth and bottom-line performance. You can see a leader putting in an infrastructure of trust, strong relationships, and care is critical to accomplishing emotional security for employees and thus the highest performance and productivity for their team or organization!!

Stand up and Lead!

Dr. Tim