By Rick J. Caruso of Caruso Affiliated
When I launched Caruso Affiliated, I had a vision to create a company that would provide absolute best-in-class service. At our properties at The Grove, The Americana at Brand, 8500 Burton Way and others, we pride ourselves on the level of attention and detail in how we treat our guests. Our main lobby looks and feels like the reception area at a five-star hotel. Our holiday displays harken back to the glamorous past of Beverly Hills and Hollywood Boulevard. And our relationships with our tenants reflect deeply-held values based on mutual benefit. So when I heard feedback from my management that our employees were reporting challenges in finding work/life balance, I decided that we should treat them with the same level of service that we treat our guests. It turns out it also happens to be good for businesses, both big and small, and probably for yours, too.
Rick J. Caruso
(Photo courtesy of Caruso Affiliated)
We recently launched corporate concierge services for our corporate headquarter employees; we provide our staff with help getting things done in their personal lives. We wanted to help our people take care of some of those things they would normally do on their “second shift,” the time outside of work consumed with personal chores and tasks. This service provides around-the-clock personal assistance to employees, helping them accomplish errands like grocery shopping, dry cleaning, vacation planning, and refueling automobiles. To support and demonstrate the need for such a service we sponsored a survey by a third party to find out just how much time we would be saving our employees. The results were both eye opening and good for the bottom line.
The big message we heard is that “work/life balance” is largely a myth. Two-thirds of respondents said that they found it challenging to accomplish all of the personal items on their check list given the amount of time they spend on the job. Because of this, 94 percent admitted that they use work time to take care of these personal chores. This is especially true for those in the so-called “Sandwich Generation,” (aged 35-54 years old) who have the responsibility for taking care of children and aging parents. We all know that happy and healthy employees are productive employees, so helping our staff to spend more time outside of the office doing what they love — being with friends and family, attending cultural events or exercising — would have a real effect on our business and how we, in turn, care for our guests. As it turns out we will gain nearly 100 minutes of work time out of each employee, each week, just by making their lives a little easier. And the great part is, you can too.
True enough, it is not free to provide this service. But it became clear that the opportunity costs of not helping employees would cost us much more in the long run. If we are so focused on going the extra miles for every man, woman and child who visits our properties, we should do the same for those who run those same destinations. Since we have started offering these concierge services we have gotten back an estimated 540 hours of employee time — that’s more than three weeks in aggregate!
I certainly understand the fine line between managing the costs of a business and offering employees perks and benefits, and I definitely realize that it is quite a balancing act. But what I want small and medium businesses to take away is that the costs of not investing in your people can often have unintended consequences and take a far greater toll on fledgling brands and businesses. Moreover, the data confirm this. One return on investment that always makes sense is taking the time to care for those who care for your customers. In the end, these dividends will far outweigh any upfront material cost.
Rick J. Caruso is founder and chief executive officer of Caruso Affiliated, one of the largest, privately held real estate companies in the U.S. Caruso Affiliated’s properties include two of the highest-grossing retail centers in the world, The Grove and The Americana at Brand. He resides in Los Angeles.
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