Game of Thrones is taking over the world, at least on our TV screens. An estimated 12.017 million people tuned in to watch episode three of the final season. The series has captivated the world by using its fantasy setting to tell deeply human stories. And there are a plethora of articles and podcasts that break down this connection and every detail of the series.
But none these explainers touch on a facet of Game of Thrones we here at The Olson Group know all too well. Whether you’ve paid attention or not, there’s a ton Game of Thrones can teach someone about the employee benefits world.
Alright, after reading that you might be a little skeptical. What can a show with dragons and ice zombies teach me about real-life employee benefits? Well, keep reading to learn the seven lessons Game of Thrones can teach you about your employment benefits.
7. Mentorship is Essential
Even the most significant leaders throughout history often rise to greatness with the help of a mentor. The most excellent leaders and fighters in Westeros are no different. Jon Snow had Ned Stark and Commander Mormont to teach him. Daenerys Targaryen had Ser Jorah and Tyrion Lannister to help guide her. Even Arya had Syrio Forel and the Hound to train and protect her.
Your employees are no different than these characters. Even the most talented of your staff both need, and likely desire, mentorship. Without a mentor, these Thrones characters wouldn’t be the people, leaders, or fighters they are. Similarly, without mentorship, even your most talented hires need someone to show them the company’s proverbial ropes.
Plus, the benefits of a mentorship program for your firm, can be immense. According to a 2013 MicroMentor survey, mentored companies increased their revenue by 83 percent while non-mentored businesses increased their revenue by only 16 percent.
Additionally, a study by MentorCloud found managerial productivity increases by 88 percent when leaders are involved in a corporate mentorship program. On the other hand, there was only a 24 percent increase in productivity when managers received training but no mentorship.
6. Your Pets Have Value
Pets in Game of Thrones have been consistently crucial to the survival of some of the main characters in the story. Where would Daenerys be without her dragons? How many times have Direwolves saved the lives of Starks, if only temporarily, throughout the show? Even the Night King needed his undead dragon to bring his army across the wall.
While it’s unlikely bringing pets into the workplace will save lives in the real world, it doesn’t mean they can’t improve your business. A 2012 study by the International Journal of Workplace Health Management highlighted the positive effect of pets on employee stress.
According to the study, individuals who brought their dogs to work had decreased hormonal stress levels when compared to those who didn’t. And research by Towers Watson found employees with high-stress levels have lower engagement and are less productive.
Let’s say your boss is too concerned with chewed-up paperwork. There’s still a way your firm can support pet owners. Offering pet insurance allows employees to avoid debt as a result of medical care for their pets. Per the American Animal Hospital Association, 73 percent of pet owners admitted they’d take on debt to pay for medical care for their pet.
Support your employees’ furry friends to maximize the positive impact they can provide to your workplace overall.
5. Meaning is Meaningful
One theme running through the entire Game of Thrones series is the idea of questioning why you’re fighting. What constitutes a good reason to go to war? People won’t fight for a cause they don’t believe. Across the show you can find instances of people resisting, or refusing, to fight because they don’t believe in the cause. Daenerys was a queen in name only until she got her dragons and gave people a reason they could believe.
Similarly, your employees aren’t going to put their best effort forward if they don’t buy into your organization’s mission. Meaning in work is the most potent motivator we know. Those who find meaningful work are:
- More likely to work harder and more creatively
- Three times more likely to stay with their organization
- Four times more engaged at work
- Seven times more likely to experience higher job satisfaction
Chances are you won’t ask your staff to fight next to you in battle, but meaning is still essential in the workplace. Meaningful work gives your employees a reason to get up in the morning. Without purpose, it’s next to impossible for businesses to get the best, most consistent work from their employees.
4. Culture is Key
Any of the successful rules in Westeros share one commonality: the ability to inspire a following. Essentially, to build a positive, productive culture. Do you think the Mad King built a positive workplace culture? My guess is no. Similarly, King Joffrey did nothing to engender his subjects to him. It’s no wonder both King’s had unnaturally shortened reigns.
Culture is just as vital in a real-world workplace. Positive workplace culture is so essential to the success of your business because it:
- Attracts talent
- Drives employee engagement and retention
- Impacts employee happiness and satisfaction
- Affects employee productivity
Build a positive workplace culture to align employee and employer values. A great workplace culture creates positive externalities for your company that otherwise wouldn’t exist.
3. Educate to Motivate
Information is as easily manipulated as it is disseminated in both the real and tv worlds. On multiple occasions, Game of Throne has demonstrated the real power of information. Think about people like Lord Varys, Little Finger, or Tyrion. Each of these men wields knowledge as a source of power.
Tyrion illustrated this point when telling Jon Snow why he reads so much. “My mind is my weapon. And a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it’s to keep its edge.” This same principle applies to your employees and their benefits.
If you want your employees to be the best benefits consumers possible, they need the best benefits education possible. And, as it currently stands, it’s more likely than not your staff doesn’t understand their benefits. In 2017, only 52 percent of employees claimed to understand their health benefits.
This lack of understanding can result in a tangible lack of engagement between employees and their benefits program. Per BenefitsPro, many large employers report year-long engagement rates among employees and their benefits plan to be less than 10 percent.
But as you educate your staff about their benefits, they become more engaged with their plans and can become better healthcare consumers. Because the better your team understands their benefits program, and actively engages with the healthcare system, the less likely they are to incur unnecessary and unreasonable medical expenses.
2. A Quality Manager is Vital
Whether you’re talking about Westeros or the real world, a great boss is a necessary foundational piece to any quality organization. Think about weak leaders we’ve already mentioned, like King Joffrey or the Mad King. They intimidated subordinates, put down advisors, and alienated themselves to those they “managed.” Additionally, they were also both killed by people close to them.
A key to any successful organization, a fantastical kingdom included, is a great boss. Poor managers can:
- Reduce employee engagement
- Lower retention rates, and
- Negatively influence employee’s health
To extract the most from your employees, your firm must promote and hire the right people to management positions. These positions have an outsized impact on your company and require careful attention.
1. Health is Wealth
Violent conflict has defined much of Game of Thrones. In fact, one of the show’s greatest strengths has been delivering shocking and emotionally resonant deaths. On the other hand, Game of Thrones has also seen multiple characters suffer horrific injuries only to heal themselves and return to the fight eventually.
In the real world, there’s significantly less stabbing, but the need for healthcare is just as relevant. And unlike Game of Thrones (Where the healthcare system seems far less confusing) a lot of people either don’t’ have health insurance or can’t afford to pay for care, even when insured.
Healthcare costs are continually rising. In 2017, healthcare spending increased 3.9 percent to reach $3.5 trillion, or $10,739 per person. Because of these exorbitant costs, healthcare remains as vital as ever to your employees. A 2017 Fractl study reinforced this benefit’s importance.
This study discovered 88 percent of employees would give at least some consideration to a company’s health insurance when deciding between a higher-paying job, and on that was lower-paying but had better benefits. Similarly, a 2018 Gallup survey found health insurance was the number one most desired benefit by employees.
It’s doubtful you’ve seen a dragon fly overhead, let alone had to go to battle with an army of the undead to protect the safety of the world. Still, the lessons Game of Thrones can teach you about your employment benefits are strikingly relevant. Mentorship, pets at work, meaning, a positive workplace culture, quality managers, and health insurance are all critical benefits that can boost your business.
Even though your employees likely have poor swordsmanship skills, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat them like true defenders of the realm. Use these seven lessons to create an employment benefits package the entire seven kingdoms covets.