The following is adapted from Life Profitability.
Relationships suffer, burn-out looms large, and your business becomes unsustainable when work first and life later is your modus operandi for too long. Likewise, others in your entrepreneurial circle can suffer the same fate.
To avoid this, I suggest promoting a business model I call “life profitability”, which allows you to realize profits in life as well as business. The remainder of this article is dedicated to eight ways I’ve made this work in my life. Maybe they can help you too.
Money Isn’t Everything
Flexible hours, remote work, holiday time, a sense of community, and decreased deadline pressure hold tremendous worth for people who value being people and not just cogs in the gargantuan wheel of industry.
I’m not suggesting you can give someone an awesome work environment and underpay them as a way of justification. But there are enough people in the labor market for whom the concepts behind a life profitable business are of supreme importance.
Float these non-monetary rewards to prospective team members and you’re likely to build a winning team capable of competing against any business that considers only financial incentives.
A Human Workplace Culture
Creating a workplace culture that empowers human beings to be at their best takes a conscious effort and consideration. If you ignore it, a culture develops anyway; one that likely won’t be life profitable to you or your team members.
Business culture consists of the values everyone agrees to uphold. Values start with the founder and/or the founding team and flow throughout the other contributors in the business. Establishing and maintaining that workplace culture comes down to remixing these shared values into something that makes sense for the entire company.
Writing a statement that lists the values of your corporate culture is a great way to align your team with a shared purpose, as long as they actually stand for something meaningful. They can’t be mere dogma. For example, you could easily announce that your company values honesty, but what does that really mean?
People need contextual guidance. They need to understand how the value relates to them personally. Something like honesty needs to be codified with a meaning such as, “We value honesty because it instills trust in our brand image.”
Holiday mode means being present in the moment of a holiday and not distracted by anything work related.
Encourage your team members to enjoy quality time off with the family by turning off notifications and texts. One small caveat,however, exists with this discipline. On especially small teams, someone with an extremely specialized skill set might still need to be available in an emergency situation. Eliminating texts and notifications still works, but such team members may need to respond to a phone call with the understanding that the device will ring only in the event of a true work emergency.
Weekly Life Check-Ins
You can regularly promote a profitable life in your business by holding weekly “life check-ins.” Propose a set of questions that encourages people to interact on a personal and/or business level. The following, weekly four-question-prompt worked well for me at Conversio.
- How was your week?
- What single event gave you the most joy?
- What are your weekend plans?
- Do you know a team member who deserves a high-five?
Keep these questions open-ended. Question 1 is intentionally vague to allow for a freestyle response, related to work or life experiences, further nurturing the notion of the whole self.
Once or twice per year, team retreats can be a valuable tool to get team members who live in disparate regions together.
Team retreats should represent the interplay of work as part of a more holistic life. Spend some time doing work that is best executed when in-person, rather than on a video conference. The rest of the time should be spent getting to know each other. Have conversations, share meals, and just be yourselves in the same space. To get the most value out of a team retreat, ask everyone to arrive as the person they are at home.
The typical employee evaluation involves a one-on-one between an employee and “the boss.” This situation puts people in a defensive position and often results in adding stress and life loss, rather than profit.
These meetings become much more effective when they become self-evaluations in a one-to-many scenario. Each member in this situation takes 15 minutes to talk to the group about their whole self, including work, life, and anything on their minds. This fosters group interaction and team building, as well as a more holistic experience of life profitability.
Team members need mental and physical space to thrive in any business.
Give people the mental space they need by encouraging time off and not holding them accountable to respond to every email, text, or notification in their non-work time. You can provide additional healthy mental space by not holding them to unreasonable expectations of performance.
Provide physical space by allowing flexible scheduling, not requiring a set number of work hours, and enabling remote work.