In my last General Counsel Corner I wrote about the legal requirements to comply with California’s anti-sexual harassment training laws, and if taken in earnest, the extraordinary benefits to a company’s culture and bottom line. In this year-end edition of General Counsel Corner, and in the spirit of the holiday season, I expand on that theme.
It’s ok to acknowledge that this has been a difficult year for most, full of personal, emotional, financial, and business challenges. The one thing that I consistently hear from clients and friends is that this year has reinforced for them the importance of interaction with, and support of, family and friends.
That recognition of the “priorities” of relationships should necessarily seep into your relationships with business colleagues and employees. The people around you, and with whom you work on a day-to-day basis, are going through the same or similar personal and professional challenges. Sometimes, in the “heat of battle” of business, we forget this. However, it is just amazing to me how a little bit of courtesy, respect, understanding, consideration, dignity, and frankly, human decency, can make a huge difference in a company’s culture, litigation exposure, and bottom-line profits.
Make your business a safe and enjoyable place to work and the benefits flow from there. Ensure that your employees feel that you care about their health and welfare by implementing and enforcing good written COVID health practices and policies. Allow your employees to feel welcome and respected by being inclusive of all, not by focusing on our differences, but by focusing on what makes us the same. Neither race, nor religion, nor sex, nor sexual orientation, nor lifestyle, nor gender identity make any difference to your business bottom line – except if a company (or its culture) is disrespectful or even demeaning to its employees on that basis. In that event, there are huge negative financial consequences and exposure. Over years of practice, I’ve seen hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted by businesses over employee conflicts that could very easily have been avoided with a little prior respect, courtesy and inclusiveness.
COVID has taken so much from us this year in terms of security and wellbeing – not to mention the devastating loss of jobs and life. Do not allow COVID to steal your humanity or your holiday spirit. Take care of the people around you, and you will be well cared for in return. This goes for business relationships as well as our interpersonal relationships. The results can be awe-inspiring when employees feel part of the team.
General Counsel Corner wishes you a happy and healthy holiday season, and good business for the coming year.