Homeless Employees and Empathy

Something interesting happened the other morning…

The manager for the outbound division of my call center came into my office…

And said he was having an issue he’d never dealt with before.

What was it?

One of the agents was asleep on the floor of an empty office.

And the manager wasn’t sure what to do.

I told the manager to go wake the guy up, and get more information.

Specifically, I said to find out if he needed to sleep all day…

Or if he was just taking a power nap…

And, if it was the former, to see if we could find a good place for him to sleep.

Sounds like a weird response, right?

Well, here’s the thing…

The sleeping agent has only been with us for a month-and-half…

But he’s already by far the top performer in his division

He also happens to be the ONLY person in the division who regularly shows up at the office before I do (around 6:30 am)…

And the guy grinds super hard all day.

Plus, he doesn’t have a car…

So he’s beating everyone else to the office, and then outworking them…

While having to take the bus to work each day.

And, if that wasn’t enough to cut the guy a break…

I recently discovered that until he started working for us…

He was homeless too.

So, when I put all of that together…

Do I really care that the dude needed to take a nap?

Nope.

He can sleep all day as far as I’m concerned.

To me, there’s nothing shocking about the way I approached this.

But, it does occur to me that there are a lot of work environments…

Where employers don’t take the time to learn people’s backstories…

Or where the rules don’t have flexibility.

I can’t help but wonder how much talent those companies lose…

How many opportunities they waste…

And how many employee’s lives get blown off course…

Simply because of a lack of empathy from employers.

Empathy is so damn powerful.

It doesn’t cost you anything…

Yet, if you’re a leader…

Empathy is one of the greatest gifts you can bestow upon others.

That’s how I look at it, at least.

Now, to be clear…

If this agent started sleeping in the office every single day…

That would obviously be a different story.

But that's not the case, though.

It’s 7:21 am as I’m writing this…

The guy beat me to the office again this morning…

And he’s already done over $1,000 in sales on the phone.

Imagine if I’d been inflexible, or had some zero-tolerance policy about this stuff?

I’d be sacrificing six figures in employee output…

Because the dude had a single rough morning.

That makes zero sense.

And frankly, if the guy needs to nap again sometime in the future…

We’ll find a place for him to sleep.

Again, all about empathy.

One tangential point…

The manager who came and brought the issue to my attention understands empathy too.

And I’m proud of him for that.

As we were talking yesterday…

He let me know that a woman in our inbound division used to be homeless too…

And that he’d originally been close to firing her because of her attendance issues…

But he was conflicted because when she did make it to the office…

She did a really great job.

So, instead of firing her, he practiced patience and empathy…

And he gave the woman time to find a place to live.

Well, guess what?

Once she was able to move into her own place…

She stopped being late.

Seriously, she hasn’t been tardy a single time.

And her performance is off the charts, too.

Imagine if he’d just fired her…

Without ever taking the time to understand where she was coming from?

That’s what happens at most places.

And I’m really proud to own a company where we practice empathy…

And, where we’re more concerned with people than with the bottom line.

A last note on empathy.

I told the manager yesterday that I’d like to buy some apartment units near our office…

Then turn those into corporate housing…

That way, if we hire people who are homeless in the future…

After doing background checks and all of that stuff…

We can offer them a short-term place to live while they get on their feet.

Sounds kind of crazy…

But it’s the decent human thing to do.

Plus, what I’ve seen is that after a month or two of working with us…

Most people are able to find a place and get stability in their life…

So, if we can create a system that helps people transition from uncertainty to stability…

I think that's worth us doing.

Okay, that’s it for today.

I’m in my office and will be wrapping up some projects.

Then, this afternoon I head over to the Venetian…

To get ready for our Copy Accelerator Event, which is Wednesday through Friday.

I am SO excited for the event…

And I can’t wait to share details and takeaways with you.

– SPG

P.S. This post originally came from an email I sent to my private list. If you want to see more stuff like this from me, you can apply to join my list using this link.

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Stefan Georgi

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