Leave Your Employees Better Than You Found Them

Be the one who nurtures and builds. Be the one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart one who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them. ~ Marvin J. Ashton


by Pete Ferguson

As a young manager at eBay, I always pushed for better pay and better benefits for my employees thinking that was the end-all-be-all cure for happiness at work.

I can recall several situations where we had almost doubled pay, added bonuses (for contract security staff that was almost unheard of in the US) and made huge inroads with medical benefit coverage – yet it still wasn’t enough!

 I’d rather have one percent of the efforts of 100 people than 100 percent of my own efforts. ~ J. Paul Getty

Then I reflected back to my days as a student employee at BYU – where I was quite happy.

My first job at University was cleaning toilets and mirrors and I had decided it was my attitude that I could control, so I became one of the best toilet cleaners and was quickly promoted and became the best at cleaning the museum at 5 am which got the attention of the security manager and I was able to transition into security and again made my way into a supervisory position.

I mistakenly had thought that it was the quick advancement and hard work that kept me motivated. Now as I look back with decades more of maturity – my managers at the time were a larger part of the equation.

Even though I was just cleaning toilets and standing watch over millions of dollars of art – in both situations my managers gave me a real sense of purpose and worth.

Linda, my manager when I was cleaning museum toilets, had a smile, walked around with a brisk pace and visited with each employee each morning and cleaned along with us when we needed a little motivation. She knew where we were from, what our parents did for a living, and a little about our hobbies and career desires. She acknowledged that cleaning toilets wasn’t the most exciting job, but it was important in accomplishing the larger mission of the museum.

Seventeen years later, remembering Linda is still a blessing in my life. She really cared, she showed it, and it made a lasting investment and difference in my life.

Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, ‘make me feel important.’ Never forget this message when working with people. ~ Mary Kay Ash

Today, we are spending considerable time and investment now at looking for ways to improve our 400+ security staff globally.

Our premise – give us two years of hard, dedicated work and we will improve your resume and give you the opportunity to get up to 18 college credits for completing all of our training courses. (Did you know you can accredit your training programs so that they can be accepted for college credit across the US? – I didn’t!)

It is a big task to accomplish, but one very much worth doing. And it has the potential to improve over 400 lives. What a cool thing to be a part of!

The new generation coming out of college is not very interested in 401ks or medical benefits. They want to know why you should be privileged to have them in your employ.

I hear many managers my age and older think this is a sin. It is a reality. We either embrace it make it work to our advantage or we will have to deal with a very transitory workforce with high turnover and very limited productivity – which will cause us to eventually be replaced by someone who “gets it.”

What are you doing to leave your employees better than you found them?

Accrediting your training programs

Visit the website for the American Council on Education (ACE – consisting of the presidents of over 1,800 accredited colleges and universities) and scroll down their “About” page:

The Center for Lifelong Learning provides services for adult learners and nontraditional students in the United States. The center is focused on ensuring that every student who desires it has access to higher education and the resources needed to succeed.


Within the center, the College Credit Recommendation Service (CREDIT) connects workplace learning with colleges and universities. CREDIT does this by helping adults get academic credit, whenever possible, for courses and examinations taken outside traditional channels.


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