With the recent release of “The Last Jedi”, Star Wars is a movie franchise that’s now spanned 40 years. The franchise has had such staying power for a multitude of reasons. Who doesn’t like spaceship battles, lightsabers duels, kooky creatures, and the charming wit of the incomparable Han Solo?
Still, one of the biggest reasons Star Wars has transcended time and space (See what I did there?) is because of its lessons. Throughout its storied history, Star Wars’ greatest strength has always been its universal (galactical?) themes. Over the course of nine movies, Star Wars has taught audiences about love, good vs. evil, spirituality, and what it means to be a hero.
On its surface, these themes, and Star Wars, in general, share very little in common with the employee benefits industry. But look further, and you’ll find that Star Wars deals with employee benefits as much as the Fast and Furious franchise deals with family and drinking Coronas. Which is to say, a lot.
(Side note: They also both star aliens. Have you ever taken a long look at Vin Diesel??) Anyway, here are the top seven lessons Star Wars can teach you about your employee benefits package.
1. You Need Good Mentorship (Young Padawan)
Like a young Luke Skywalker, your employees need good mentorship to ensure they don’t turn to the “dark side.” Without a positive mentor, it’s much easier for good employees to become apathetic and dispassionate towards their work. (The real world equivalent of turning to the dark side).
A Jedi needs a master. Without a master to teach them the ways of the force they will never be able to unlock their real potential. Similarly, no matter how talented a new hire is, they need a mentor from the company to show them the proverbial ropes. The benefits of a mentorship program can be immense.
These benefits apply to leadership, as well as non-managerial employees. According to MentorCloud, 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 when managers received training but no mentorship.
Heck, even the Sith understood the importance of mentorship. Remember, without Darth Sidious; there’s no Darth Vader. Don’t be the company that lets its young talent wither on the vine. Use a mentorship program to produce better leaders and a more improved business overall.
LEARN MORE ABOUT BUILDING A MENTORSHIP PROGRAM.
2. Bring Your Pets to Work
Chewbacca is, and always has been, the most overlooked, and disrespected, character in the entire galaxy. (Check out the final scene in “A New Hope”. Chewy is the only main character not to receive a medal from Princess Leia! He doesn’t even get a condescending pat on the head.)
Despite being consistently undervalued Chewbacca had Han Solo’s back at every turn. He fought next to Han against Stormtroopers, helped save him from Jabba the Hutt, and defended the Millennium Falcon on countless occasions. So, imagine if Han Solo had left Chewy at home like the pet that served as inspiration for his creation.
Some people might believe the introduction of pets into the workplace is a recipe for disaster. Important contracts would be eaten, copy room floors pooped on. But if there’s one thing Chewbacca can teach us, it’s that being a pet-friendly business can have tangible benefits.
The first way pets at work can boost business is through reducing employee stress. A 2012 study, by International Journal of Workplace Health Management, discovered the positive effects 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 that employees with high-stress levels have lower engagement and are less productive.
Even something as simple as offering pet insurance can help your employees. Pet insurance allows employees to avoid debt as a result of medical care for their pet. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, 73 percent of pet owners admitted they would take on debt to pay for medical care for their pet.
Pet insurance can help your employees from taking on this kind of debt. Helping your staff avoid debt is imperative. The financial stress even a small amount of debt can cause is significant. Consequently, this stress can have a real impact on that individual’s productivity.
READ ABOUT THE POTENTIAL BENEFITS OF PET INSURANCE.
3. Health is Wealth
Without proper healthcare, the rebel alliance would have been crushed fairly quickly. Even Luke Skywalker himself required some patching up. If Luke were uninsured, and couldn’t afford healthcare, he would’ve had to fight Stormtroopers, literally, one-handed.
In the real world, most people aren’t getting their hands sliced off by a lightsaber. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t getting sick. And unlike Star Wars (at least as far as we know) many people either don’t have health insurance or can’t afford care, even when they’re insured.
Healthcare costs are continually rising. In 2015, the U.S. spent a total of $3.2 trillion on healthcare or an average of $9,990 per person. Because of these exorbitant prices, healthcare is as important to employees as ever. A 2017 Fractl study confirmed this importance.
The 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 one that was lower-paying but had better benefits. Health insurance should be the building block for any employee benefits package.
FIND OUT THE IMPORTANCE OF HEALTH INSURANCE.
4. Get Ethical
At the heart of Star Wars is a battle of good versus evil. The light versus the dark side. The Jedi versus the Sith. And the idea at the heart of business ethics is doing the “right” thing, even when (especially when) nobody is watching. It’s choosing the light side, even when the dark side could save you time or money.
But making positive ethical decisions isn’t just an obnoxious HR initiative. Choosing the ethical path can have real, positive business effects. From 1997-2013, the annualized stock market returns of the Fortune 100 best companies to work for were 11.8 percent. This return is almost double the 6.4 percent for the Russel 3000 Index, and 6 percent for the S&P’s 500 Index.
KNOW HOW POSITIVE BUSINESS ETHICS CAN IMPROVE BUSINESS.
5. Technology is Important (But It’s Not Everything)
The Empire built the Death Star, the ultimate weapon of destruction. It was capable of destroying entire planets. That type of power brought the Rebel Alliance to its knees. It’s this type of power that organizations are looking to replicate, at least in a business sense, through their technology.
Any competitive business, in 2018, needs to have a technological infrastructure that’s, at the very least, passable. This foundation is necessary for your employees to be their most productive selves. Technology helps employees improve communication, flexibility, and efficiency. It’s also vital for recruiting millennial workers.
A 2016 survey by Employee Benefits News found that millennial recruits value an organizations’ technological infrastructure. In the survey, 93 percent of millennials indicated up-to-date technology is one of the most important aspects of a workplace.
And, as we march forward into 2018, technology’s importance will only continue to grow. Still, it’s not the only factor that contributes to your organization’s success. Technology is never the end all, be all, and the Rebel Alliance demonstrated this sentiment as well as anyone else.
In addition to the Death Star, the Empire had a seemingly endless army of Stormtroopers, AT-ATs, AT-STs, speeders, and space fighters. Yet, at the end of “Return of the Jedi”, it was one-handed Luke, and a bunch of violent teddy bears celebrating the victory.
The innovative tactics used by the Rebels ultimately made them more effective than the Empire, despite the Empires’ technological superiority. Keep this in mind when selecting your company’s technology. You want to your tech to be up-to-date, but keep it within your organization’s means.
6. Be Empathetic
Empathy isn’t something most people would consider an employee benefit. But demonstrating your empathy is a valuable asset to your organization. In a 2017 study by Businessolver, 92 percent of employees and 95 percent of HR professionals agree that empathy is a meaningful way to advance employee retention.
In other publications, empathy in business has been linked to increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction, reduced stress, and greater creativity. The logic is simple. More empathy means your staff is better able to understand both coworkers and clients. The better you understand another person, and their point of view, the better you can help them.
What if Luke Skywalker had seen Darth Vader as a Sith Lord, and a Sith Lord only? He would never have been able to see the sliver of light still inside Vader. And without that sliver being discovered and mined; Vader never would’ve turned on Darth Sidious and destroyed him.
Be like Luke Skywalker and always think with empathy. Before you make any serious decision, ask yourself how your choices will affect other parties in the scenario. Empathy isn’t a weakness; it’s a source of strength and, potentially, competitive advantage.
7. Provide Meaning
The final lesson that’s consequential to the Star Wars universe is the importance of meaning. Notice I said meaning, and not a definition (Star Wars doesn’t exactly define everything in its universe. I still have no idea what these instruments are or how they work, but I know they sound super groovy). The importance of meaning is evident through the Rebel Alliance.
Despite being outnumbered and outgunned at nearly every turn, the Rebels kept fighting back. And ultimately, as we all know, they won. That’s because every rebel had a cause they believed in. Your employees, like the Rebellion, do their best work when they care about what they’re doing. 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
Meaning gives your employees something to get up for every morning. It’s what drives employees to put in the extra effort. If you can’t get your staff to buy into your organization’s mission, it will be almost impossible to get their best, most consistent work.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF MEANINGFUL WORK.
I’m willing to bet your office doesn’t have an Ewok let alone a spaceship. But the lessons Star Wars can teach you about employee benefits are still applicable. Mentorship, pets at work, health insurance, positive ethics, technology, business empathy, and meaningful work can improve your business.
Just because your employees can’t wield lightsabers, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat them like a Jedi. Use these seven lessons to shape an employee benefits package the entire galaxy covets. And, as always, may the force be with you.