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Why You Should Treat Team Members as People, Not Employees

Why You Should Treat Team Members as People, Not Employees


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The days of a top-down, one-size-fits all approach to managing a staff are over: Today’s workers are looking for personalization, and the better you meet their needs, the more successful your business will be.

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I frequently write on the Red Rocket Blog about employee experience and recruiting topics like how to manage a virtual team, the possible benefits of an unlimited vacation day policy and swapping “I” for “we” in corporate communications. After a look at these posts, you might notice a consistent theme: All are employee-friendly policies intended to let staff members cultivate their own identities on the job. Why is this important? Because recruiting and retaining staff is harder than ever, and the more things you do to nurture long-term loyalty, the more your company will thrive and your employees prosper. At the core of this message is learning to treat staff as the people they are, not simply employees.

What is an “employee?”

Merriam-Webster defines this word as “one employed by another, usually for wages or salary and in a position below the executive level” and to me, the key words are “employed” and “below.” The latter conveys a feeling that one simply works for the company as a cog in the wheel, and not with the company — on more of an even footing with other colleagues. It’s a definition that speaks to hierarchy with employees working “below” layers of management. From the vantage point of a job applicant, that doesn’t sound very enticing.

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