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On Being Scrooge - Part 2

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast." So said Peter Drucker, one of the most well-known and influential thinkers on business management in modern times. Supported by a myriad of studies, it seems that Mr. Drucker is right. Great company culture motivates employees to do their best, which in turn promotes higher customer satisfaction and better financial performance. A positive culture is also proven to support well-being, which was named a top-ranked trend in importance for 2021.

If building a great corporate culture is so important, how should a company go about doing it? Again, we'll look to A Christmas Carol and the contributing factors Dickens points out in the workplaces he describes, both in regards to the actual physical space and the atmosphere created by interpersonal relationships.

Image Credit: Disney

In the first of these two posts, we saw a great contrast between Scrooge's old place of employment and the one he provides for his own worker. His former employer, Fezziwig, was evidently tuned in to what would make a inviting workspace for his employees. In the passage that describes his warehouse, a numbers of clues provide the elements that contribute to a great environment, no matter what the time period:

  • Enough space: Clear away! Every movable was packed off

  • Clean: The floor was swept

  • Well-lighted: The lamps were trimmed

  • Comfortable: Fuel was heaped upon the fire

Other elements and perks could be included of course, but those listed above are foundational to a thoughtful, organized area. The average worker spends 37.5 hours a week at the office, so it only makes sense that people are happier spending that much time in a space they actually like.

In addition, Fezziwig knew that well-being is influenced not only by the physical workspace, but also by how people are treated. He and his wife thus give each employee personal recognition: Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on either side of the door, and shaking hands with every person individually, as he or she went out, wished him or her a Merry Christmas!

Ultimately, a great culture is created by positive interaction between people. Starting with the onboarding process, a company should treat each new employee with respect and open communication. Clear organizational values and transparency build trust over time, as does the recognition of a job well done and a clear path to promotion. Since well-being was a top ranked trend in 2021, the business that looks out for its employees will not only have a lower turnover rate, it will have more productive workers as well.

After Scrooge's life-altering encounters with the spirits on Christmas Eve, he determines to turn his life and his business around for the better. The day after Christmas, Bob Cratchit is greeted by a changed workplace and a changed man:

"A merry Christmas, Bob!" said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. "A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you, for many a year! I'll raise your salary, and endeavor to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob! Make up the fires, and buy another coal- scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!'

Scrooge addresses both the workspace and the relationship he has so long neglected. He apologizes to Bob for his previous behavior and brings the comfort of the office up to standard. In addition, he provides medical care for Bob's family so that Tiny Tim is cured of his illness. Not only does this make the Cratchits' life easier and more joyful, it makes Scrooge a happy person as well: "His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him." "Do unto others" then, is not just beneficial for the recipient, but for the giver as well, another proof positive that partnership economics works, no matter what century you're in.

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