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  • Writer's pictureSusan & Renée

Balancing the Needs of Employees and Employers

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

We’ve talked to you about the importance of work-life balance, but there’s another kind of balance that company leaders must keep on their radar. We’re talking about the balance between the needs of the employees and the needs of the company.

When working with small businesses, we’ve seen these two needs get out of balance a lot, often with the company getting the short end of the stick.

Most small business owners are good people who truly care about their employees and may even see them as extensions of their families. These owners are sensitive to the employees’ personal needs and don't flinch when asked to make adjustments such as modifying schedules, granting time off, or working from home - even if it goes against standard policy or inconveniences the company.

This kind of leader is great to have for a boss. But there can be a negative side to this if the generosity and flexibility is taken too far. When bosses continually try to accommodate the unique needs of all employees, it can come at a cost to all involved.

For bosses…Time must be spent to manage the various and unique arrangements that each employee requires. For small businesses, it is often the owners who pick up the slack when an employee has to be out, for example. Not only can this quickly lead to burnout and overwhelm for the owner, but it also takes away from their ability to keep their CEO perspective. In addition, leaders can become resentful of employees who don’t seem to appreciate all the hoops they jumped through to make the adjustment. Not a pleasant dynamic to have permeating the workplace.

For the company…Occasionally abandoning protocol to cater to an employee’s unique situation recognizes that the workforce is comprised of human beings. It should be expected that things will come up that hinder an employee’s ability to work according to standard procedures. Being flexible in response to these circumstances helps people bring their best self to work and retains good workers. It’s when this becomes a regular practice for all employees that the company suffers. It can create confusion, a loss of productivity, and can ultimately render policies and procedures meaningless because they are seldom followed. Eventually, this impacts customer satisfaction and profitability.

For employees…It may seem that an overly flexible leader is ideal for employees. But when this comes at the expense of smooth processes and clear expectations, it can have a negative impact. Inconsistent enforcement of policies and protocols can create confusion and irritation. In addition, if one employee is continually getting “special treatment” others may come to feel resentful of having to compensate. Again, another unpleasant workplace dynamic that can leave employees feeling undervalued and taken for granted.

We’ll continue this discussion in the weeks ahead when we address ways to determine if your company is dealing with this imbalance and how to right the scale.


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