When Jaime Colsa (Executive MBA 2008) set up the Palibex transport company he did so –apart from business interests– “to generate a happy work environment”. His story exemplifies just how important it is for managers to be concerned about the health and wellbeing of their employees.
He recognizes that at first he was thinking about his own happiness, but he soon understood that to achieve this, everyone around him had to enjoy too. He knew that happy workplaces existed –he had worked in a few– and he wanted to replicate them.
The first thing was to pay his employees well. Salaries at Palibex are among the highest in the sector. “Everything comes from being able to make your mortgage payments, and pay the electricity bill and your kids’ school.” The second thing was to take an interest in their wellbeing. “I want for them the same things I want for myself.”
The result? Every time he found something that he liked, he tried to bring it to his company –from a good healthcare policy to a cultural event that could stimulate the creativity of the employees.
If he enjoys taking care of himself in the gym, why not pay for a gym for all the employees who want to go to one? “We had a gym on one of the floors of the building, but we discovered that they wanted to go to one outside the company, and so we paid for it.”
If he has periodic physiotherapy sessions, he also hires a physiotherapist to visit Palibex every month. “The employees write their name on a list and they can have a session, whether they need it or not. If you want to be relaxed, Moisés is coming”.
Palibex also has a napping room, where workers can rest when they need to. Moreover, their work chairs are ergonomic, the lighting in the office is designed to reduce fatigue, and the hours make it easier for staff members to have a good work-life balance. For example: no emails can be sent outside of office hours. “That ‘call me whenever you like’ policy that some companies have is not healthy.”
The latest step in this desire to care for the workforce was a nutritional program, with relevant changes in the company’s cafeteria, which now offers fruit instead of pastries, and fresh food from a startup specialized in healthy eating.
This businessman firmly believes that a healthier life is based on four pillars: rest, physical activity, food and spirituality. “This last factor is the only one we don’t get involved in, each individual does what he wants,” he adds. But he makes sure his employees are provided with the other three. And he doesn’t do so to boost productivity, which he thinks would not be a good reason to do so. “If you do it for that purpose, you lose its power. You have to do it because these are people who are by your side, people you love, and to whom you owe a great deal. You have to take care of them because they’re your family.”
Palibex is now an established company with more than 650 employees, but Colsa says that any startup can care for its workers from day one. “We also were applying these measures when we were losing money. It’s a matter of entrepreneurial vision. If we can’t do this, all the struggle isn’t worth it. We’re not going to scratch out euros from the stockholders, or take that money home. The main stakeholders in the 21st century are the employees. It’s the companies that realize this that will be successful. The ones that just look out for the client or the stockholders will be left behind.”
By Isabel Garzo