Employees first: Use empathy, engagement and expectations

Published by Simple Truths, ‘Putting Your Employees First’ by Michael Bergdahl is 159 pages and sells for $14.99.

Your office looks like Grand Central Station at rush hour.

Like that iconic location, you see many people who are older and have been around the block enough times to know the work-score. You also have younger, less-experienced people whose career journeys are just beginning.

So how do you best manage a diverse group of employees such as that? Read “Putting Your Employees First” by Michael Bergdahl and find out.

Your company holds a lot of assets.

You’ve got computers, furniture, office supplies, product, perhaps a fleet of vehicles, maybe an entire building.

But your most important assets, Bergdahl says, are the people you’ve hired.

So, when did you last pay any serious attention to them?

If your answer is anything other than “today,” you’re missing out.


Investing in your staff and putting your employees first in the workplace offer many benefits for you and your profitability.

But that’s only half the equation.

Other benefits become apparent when employees’ work styles are considered. Younger workers generally like to be managed differently than their older peers.


Part of that managing comes from knowing that leaders who display caring, empathy and honesty get more respect.

Employees work harder for those who know that kids get sick, vehicles break down and life happens sometimes.

But that doesn’t mean that a supervisor should be a pushover. An employee worth keeping will know that expectations are never erased and that the company’s goals still stand, no matter what.


To get to that point, though, takes a paradigm shift.

Supervisors still supervise, but “employee first” workplaces rely on “employee-centered leadership, which uses a shared, more collaborative approach to making team decisions,” Bergdahl says.

It requires “100 percent employee engagement,” public kudos for a job well done, trust and mutual respect, and it results in happier employees who display pride in their work, loyalty to their companies, and stellar customer service.

To start, Bergdahl says, teach your managers to empower employees and to listen to them – but that’s not all. This method for a better workplace must come from the top, down.


At under 160 pages, you might think that “Putting Your Employees First” would be a quick, easy read.

And you’d be absolutely correct, especially considering that there’s a lot of repetition inside these pages.

However, that doesn’t make this book bad.

Author Michael Bergdahl has good, albeit common- sense, advice and it’s usable for managers who want to embrace a different style of workplace, and for entrepreneurs looking to hire staff that work better in a uniquely-structured atmosphere.


Here, there are plenty of bold-type statements, helpful worksheets to accomplish goals, and re-reiterated bullet points – and yet, employees who require more hand-holding to do their jobs confidently and well are largely left out of the conversation in a sea of redundancy.

That’s unfortunate.

Even so, and repetition notwithstanding, this book could at least make workplaces less stuffy, more worker-friendly and quite possibly more efficient for better profitability.

“Putting Your Employees First” could also mean better retention – and wouldn’t that be grand?

Terri Schlichenmeyer of Wisconsin writes reviews of business books. Reading since she was 3, she owns 15,000 books and can be reached at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

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