The cost of not doing the right thing

I had a fantastic time yesterday working with clients. I’ve been fortunate to work in – and for – some fantastic organisations during my career – and helped to build organisational cultures that are healthy for everyone. It was great to be a part of another one yesterday with Joe Bhat’s team at Moor Park Specialist Dental Centre in London.

It’s easy to forget that I work with some of the best companies. They ensure that their Corporate Social Responsibility strategy spans ethics, environment & sustainability, and working with good causes and in their communities. They also work hard on their team dynamics, providing strong leadership, fair remuneration and terms, and opportunities for development and  engagement.

It’s sad that there are still too many businesses out there that are not great places to work. I was chatting to a friend this week whose brother manages a residential care home. Over the past couple of weeks, they’ve had an outbreak of the Norovirus – the ‘winter vomiting bug’. It’s a highly highly contagious stomach bug and although it usually goes away in a couple of days, it’s unpleasant, and in a care home, hard to manage.

Understandably, the outbreak had resulted in a lot of residents and staff becoming sick. As a manager, this is a horrible time to get through. My friend’s brother was the only one who hadn’t suffered, and so was working extra shifts to cover. Despite everyone pulling together to get through a tough time, it transpired they were being badly let down by their leadership in the form of the owner.

Although the sickness in staff was caused by exposure to the virus at work, and now posed a risk to their own families, the owner was refusing to give any ground on sick pay. His attitude was that if people were off for long enough, they would qualify for statutory sick pay. And it seems this isn’t the only thing he is letting his people down on. On digging deeper, it seems his visits to the business are all about targets, there is little support for management, and not even any friendly engagement with the staff.

For me, this owner is operating in a different paradigm, and an ironic one given that he owns a ‘care’ home. I’ve seen again and again that in order to keep your staff, and avoid them losing motivation and doing the bare minimum, you simply have to engage with them as people, show that you care and do the right thing by them.

Doing the right thing is sometimes not the cheapest in the short term – but in the long run, it WILL cost you more to neglect your team. One study found that having a good CSR strategy in place (of which a commitment to good leadership is a key component) can reduce staff turnover by up to 50%. When you consider that each lost team member will cost you between 90% and 200% of annual salary to replace – it’s something you can’t ignore.

When you remove CSR from a business, all that remains is profit at any cost. When it’s done well, CSR can add many benefits. But equally, neglecting CSR will cost you.

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