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Paulos: Investing in workers makes cents

Published March 30, 2013 1:01 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I have owned my advertising and PR agency here in Salt Lake City, The Summit Group Communications, for 31 years. Now, that certainly does not make me John D. Rockefeller or Steve Jobs, but I have learned some very important things, like the correlation between the culture of a workplace and its bottom-line success.

When I talk about a company's culture, I am not talking about its brand — which is what a company is and provides for its consumers. I am talking about who and what a company is for its most important assets — its employees.

I have found (and, as it turns out, there is fascinating research to support) that the happier employees are, the better they perform for the company, directly affecting its profits. And, as research conducted by the American Sociological Association shows, diversity in the workplace also has a direct and positive correlation with profit. In fact, it showed that "workplace diversity is among the most important predictors of a business' sales revenue, customer numbers and profitability."

So, how to create a happy and diverse workforce?

First, recruit well. There is incredible talent out there looking for rewarding work. For example, I want my compensation packages to be competitive, opening the company up to as broad a talent pool as possible. And especially as the job market continues to recover, potential employees are scrutinizing potential employers as much as we are evaluating them.

Second, we have to take care of our employees so they want to stay. This means having inclusive policies and procedures — whether mandated by law or not — so that everyone is treated fairly and can work in environments free from discrimination and harassment. We have to spell this out and we have to enforce it. No exceptions. Some of history's most successful individuals were women, people of color, gays and lesbians, people with disabilities and so on. Successful businesses invite and protect everyone.

Creating a happy and diverse workforce also includes investing in programs that make work fun and positive. This is not to say that all companies have to provide a game room the size of Google's, but a rolling nacho cart every now and again can be quite nice. At TSG, we liken our work to running intervals. We expect our folks to sprint for us, so we make sure to provide them with rest and proverbial Gatorade.

Without progressive benefits, inclusive nondiscrimination policies, institutionalized programs for fun and good health, we all suffer. And although it creates a competitive advantage for me when other companies do not provide the basic protections and benefits to their employees, I very much believe that all workers deserve open and safe workplaces.

Now, I certainly want my company to see continued success, but for me, taking care of my employees is more about doing what I think is right than it is about profit. And while we may not all agree on that, can we all agree to invest in a safe and productive workplace for the people who make sacrifices for us every day?

Bill Paulos founded The Summit Group Communications in 1982. Today, its 80 employees do business in 32 states and TSG is the longest running, independently owned advertising and public relations firm in Utah.




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