Back in the early ’80s, I was a young partner at Plante Moran. The firm had an opportunity and made a very unique confidential investment. In the partner meeting to vote on the investment, it was stated that 10 percent of the profits would be shared with the staff. Well, it turned out to be a fantastic investment that matured and paid out in 1983, which was a deep recession year that significantly impacted the partners’ earnings. I was very curious about whether the plan to share with the staff members would be honored. (Keep in mind that the staff had no idea about this confidential windfall.) To my delight, we (since I was a partner) did share our good fortune with the entire Plante Moran team. I was re-recruited to the firm. Our walk matched our talk.
Why am I telling you this decades-old story? The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged businesses, which have had to make some really tough decisions. Barbara and I are very proud to be associated with our clients, whose actions matched the words on the plaques on their company walls. I can’t share all the heartwarming stories I’ve heard, but I’ll highlight a few.
- A professional service firm’s competitors almost immediately laid off employees and reduced salaries. Although it was gut-wrenching, the CEO of my client’s firm decided not to make any reductions. Recently I asked, “Now that we’re past the worst of it, how do you feel about your decision?” He responded, “It was the right thing to do!”
- Another client, whose manufacturing plant could have remained open due to some “essential service” customers, closed his facility because the CEO was very concerned about his workers contracting the virus. But that wasn’t all he did for his team. He continued to pay all salary and hourly workers during the stay-at-home executive order. Really!
- Finally, the owners of an essential service client decided to provide his $12-13 per-hour workers with a $1,000 bonus. It gets better. The CEO and two other top executives personally handed the bonus checks to their 500 hourly employees working all over Michigan and thanked them for their service to the company, especially during these difficult times.
Every company I’ve ever known says it really values its employees. These three owners proved it, just like Plante Moran did back in 1983.
My question for you would be: Can you substantiate with real evidence that your employees are important to you?
If you have any cool stories about something that occurred during the pandemic, I would love to hear them.