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    What a difference a lamp makes
    Featured Editorial about Employee Relations
    from the Power Search Executive Management Portal

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    Our whole department had been moved from a lovely, sunny office to what amounted to a hallway. The desks were so close together that I bumped into one or the other of the designers every time I moved.

    It was quite dark and I wear glasses so sitting at a screen all day in a sub-lit room was tiring on my eyes. So I thought I'd ask for a lamp. Just a cheap, 10 desk lamp from Argos. The answer was, "We don't have the money".

    That was it. I had put up with a lot. I had continued to do my job professionally and bring in recurring revenue despite being shoved into a cramped, ill-lit "room" - it couldn't actually be called an office. I had endured the fact that the company didn't seem to know where it was going and kept changing its focus every two weeks. I could deal with the fact that, although the department I worked in brought in a significant amount of money, the top brass didn't really understand what we did and therefore we were sidelined.

    But being told a 10 lamp was too expensive was personal. I had asked for it and I had been told that I wasn't worth the 10 that it would cost.

    Employers beware, little things are very important to those who work for you. Would it really have been that much of a stretch to shell out a whole 10 for a desk lamp for an employee who had been there for more than two years?

    Well, it no longer matters. After being told I wasn't worth the cost of an inexpensive accessory I began looking for another job and eventually took one with a company that couldn't offer as much money but did offer a much friendlier atmosphere. My former company offered me a significant raise if I'd stay and I was only too happy to turn them down. How could they afford to pay me 4000 more a year if they couldn't afford a 10 lamp???

    I now run my own company and if an employee of mine wants a lamp or a stapler or to leave an hour early to pick up their sick little boy, that's fine by me. Little things don't cost a lot but the returns you get from having happy employees are worth a small fortune.

    The people who work with and for you need to know they matter. Expensive team building weekends are nice but they pale in significance when compared to the little every day things that are actually important to people.

    Is everyone in the office comfortable, do they have enough light and good ventilation? Do they feel they can come to you if their child is unwell or does your attitude and the "company's policy" force them to take a sickie? Why can't they work from home if the little one is poorly or the gas inspector has to come out or the new couch is being delivered? Why can't you be flexible?

    If you've hired a slacker that'll take advantage of a relaxed atmosphere then that's your fault. Don't make the other hard working employees pay for your mistake.

    One benefit of having worked for companies that would never have won (or been nominated for) the employer of the year award is that I know how it feels. And I would never want my employees to feel that way. They work very hard and we get a heck of a lot done but that's not because we whip them.

    We hired good people, we plan carefully, we work well together, and we are flexible whenever we can be. We know it's worth it and, most importantly, we know they're worth it. After all, we hired them.