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  • Writer's pictureAcumen Learning

Acumen in Action #12 | People

After Training Resources


Businessweek recently featured a company on their cover as being, "The Cheapest, Happiest, Company in The World." The hallways of their corporate offices are lined in faded blue carpet that looks like it needs to be replaced, their boardroom is furnished with faux-wood tables, they don't give out shopping bags, and their shopping centers offer very little frills (other than an occasional free sample).

Despite their fundamental focus on thrift, this company pays their hourly workers an average of $20.89 an hour and eighty-eight percent of their employees have company sponsored health insurance. By comparison, their largest competitor pays around $12.67 an hour. The bottom-line: they treat their employees well in the belief that a happier work environment will result in a more profitable company. That formula seems to be working, their sales have grown 39% and their stock price has doubled since 2009.

Who's the company? Watch the slide show below and see if you can guess.

Acumen In Action™

In between each slide have your team write down their guess of who they think the company is. Tell them that if they blabber out a guess before the end of the slideshow they'll be given a pink slip (kidding, but seriously keep it to yourself). Once the slideshow is done, see who guessed the company first (and maybe offer the winner a prize). Then discuss the following as a team…

  1. What do you think about the following statements: "We know it's a lot more profitable in the long term to minimize employee turnover and maximize employee productivity, commitment and loyalty." "…it's about creating value, about treating your employees and customers well, and respecting your vendors - and ultimately rewarding your shareholders in the process."

  2. As you think about our team… how frugal are we? Are we thrifty in the right areas? Too cheap in some areas?

  3. As a team how can we treat our customers better? Remember that your customers include your team members and colleagues from different departments.

The take away…

Choose a company that you either admire or buy from and assess whether or not your chosen company does a good job at balancing profits and people. Encourage everyone to share their findings in your next team meeting, and together use your business acumen to make a list of good and bad examples of balancing profits and people.

If you and your team have the book Seeing the Big Picture (Greenleaf, 2012) turn to page 81 and read the section: Employees: The Foundation of Success


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