Holding the envelope to my forehead, the large turban perched atop my head I read these words – Austin Powers, Gandhi and Your Mom. I pull envelope down, rip the short edge of the envelope off and blow into it quickly to assist in extracting the question.

(FYI – The question to the three answers in the image above at the end of the post.)

Yes… Johnny Carson’s Carnac the Magnificent is alive and well at this blog. (I’m sure that reference is killing my Gen Z street cred…)

As the imaginary audience in my office falls silent I read the question…

“Name three people who have the answer to our ongoing employee engagement debacle?”

  • Austin Powers exclaimed – “Oh, Behave!”
  • Gandhi urged us all to behave in the way that would represent the change we wanted to see.
  • And your Mom always told you to be on your best behavior.

The key here is behavior.

How a company behaves is what sets it apart from the competition, creates demand for its product or service, lessens the impact of rocky business environments, and generates great employee engagement/experience. (Never sure what the appropriate term is any more. Can you say distinction without a difference?)

Remember, behavior is driven by both the things we reward and the things we don’t reward. Behavior is driven by what we celebrate and what we ignore. Behavior is what separates winners from the losers.

Companies who say employees are their greatest asset and lay off 1,000 people but keep executive car allowances are not behaving in the way that makes them an employer of choice.

Companies who cut training budgets instead of country club memberships aren’t behaving as if employees matter.

Companies that eliminate reward and recognition that reinforce the RIGHT behaviors are communicating those behaviors aren’t valued.

I’m not so naive as to think that companies shouldn’t look to cut costs where it makes sense – I’m just suggesting that we look in the wrong places. We typically start with people – and the related infrastructure that supports them – but that is the one place where your company can truly make a difference in the market. I know that reducing or eliminating car allowances, corporate dining rooms and other “perqs” for a few won’t add up to the amount most companies need to get where they’re going – but it will communicate what the company thinks is important. And the lack of those things won’t affect the company in any way (except it might keep those who value ego-stroking items over employee support away from your business – not a bad side effect.)

Here’s the way I see it…

If my family were in dire straits and needed to save money – where would I cut?

Kid’s food? Kid’s education? Kid’s activities? Nope.

I’d start by cutting my expenses first – golf on weekends, going out with friends, no new shoes or new OLED TV. My kids would be the last place I’d cut. They are the most important thing I have. I protect them by cutting back on my own expenses first. In other words – my behavior would match my words. I’d behave in the appropriate way.

How come companies don’t do the same thing? I shouldn’t have to say these things but … well … you know. SMH.



BTW: The answer to the card in the image above…What happens to people who subscribe to this blog?