To Gary Vaynerchuk, employees are the most important part of any business. “Your first ten employees are the foundation of your company,” he says. “They’re the steel beams in the concrete at the bottom of your building nobody will ever see. They need to be into you and you need to be into them.”
While most employers understand the importance of making staff members feel appreciated, Vaynerchuk takes it a step further. As the head of VaynerMedia, he feels that it’s his job to set a tone and create an atmosphere in the workplace that helps his employees feel valued. “I think everything comes from the top,” he says.
That cozy feeling
Creating a sense of home — of safety, encouragement and even family — is a priority for Vaynerchuk. “I think my employees feel at home because they feel like I’m a parent. And I think all my actions, from the psychology I deploy and the listening and the talking, play a part. I think people only feel at home when the parents make you feel at home, and that’s the job.”
While Vaynerchuk understands the importance of a healthy work environment, giving employees time and space to relax with simple things like open-air workspaces, he sees that they can be misused by executives who make a workplace seem inviting when, just under the appealing surface, there are issues that could make even the most luxurious office environment seem hostile. “You don’t trick people by offering 24/7 massages and foosball tables,” he says.
Instead, Vaynerchuk feels that, before offering a physically comfortable space to employees, executives and CEOs should make sure their companies offer value that really matters. “Companies where people are happy make sure employees feel like they can grow. That’s what matters, not free Cheerios on Tuesday.”
Caring makes profit
So, what can employers do to make sure their employees feel the workplace is someplace they want to be if not use comfortable chairs, open-air environments and other external elements? Vaynerchuk challenges employers to try something that might be far more challenging than just opening up the corporate bank account for a shopping spree. “They can start actually start [caring],” he says. “They can care about people and not just how much money they are going to make.”
Ironically, Vaynerchuk says listening to employees — who may, in fact, want open-air work environments — and responding to their needs has a wonderful side effect. “A funny things happens when you start caring. You end up making more money.”
Still, Vaynerchuk says that the issue of employee satisfaction can’t lie strictly on the shoulders of employers. “Do I want businesses to care about people more? Yes, but everybody has to be accountable. It’s not just the man who’s messed up. It’s also the worker who’s messed up if he stays in a bad situation.”