TEDx talk explores how companies can help workers and the bottom line

March 25, 2021

Businesses that take a few tangible actions can improve their employees’ lives as well as their own performance, Ross School of Business Professor [and Center for Positive Organizations Faculty Associate] Ach Adhvaryu explains in a new video.

As part of a TEDx Gateway webinar series called “The World Has Changed,” Adhvaryu recently gave a live-streamed talk titled “Why Businesses Should Take Care of Their Workers.”

Ach Adhvaryu

“We rarely stop to consider where our clothes, or laptops, or food all come from. Odds are, they are made far away by someone you don’t know, who works for a supplier you’ve never heard of, and who lives a very different life than you do,” Adhvaryu notes in the video. “Increasingly, those lives are defined by struggle. But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the lives of these workers — their successes and failures, their health and well-being — are inextricably linked to our own lives.”

Adhvaryu discusses research he has done through the Good Business Lab — cofounded by Adhvaryu and Anant Nyshadham, also a Michigan Ross professor — to identify actions that improve both productivity and worker well-being.

“The data have spoken, and it turns out that the mandate for investing in the well-being of front-line workers is both moral and economic. Put simply, businesses thrive when they take care of their workers,” he says.

Adhvaryu details three particular lessons that have arisen from work at the Good Business Lab:

  • Soft skills matter, even to front-line workers.
  • Workers having a voice matters.
  • Environmental concerns matter in the workplace.

He also adds a fourth lesson: “Change doesn’t come easy.” However, he concludes, “When our voices echo together, our whispers become a shout. Together, we can move closer to the ideal of shared prosperity in our time.”

Following the formal talk, the video presents a Q&A session in which Adhvaryu discusses the Good Business Lab research process, how to address environmental issues in “dirty” industries, the role of employee unions, and much more.

This article was originally published as a Ross News Blog post.