It’s Take More Than Just “Show Me the Money”


It’s a fairly safe assumption to make that every late Millennial to the Baby Boomers has seen the iconic scene in Jerry Macguire where Ron Tidwell, played by Cuba Gooding Jr. screams to Jerry, played by Tom Cruise, to “Show me the money!” If you haven’t seen the movie, you can watch the clip here on YouTube. The movie itself is a great example of what’s going on in the world today and has a lot to do with this month’s topic of gratitude and employee wellbeing.

To summarize, the main plot of the story is about a sports agent who has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it, so he decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent agent with the only athlete who stays with him, Rod, and a former colleague. For many, the main story is about Jerry, but as an executive recruiter, there are so many lessons we can learn from Rod from the employer perspective.

Rod has a year left in his football contract with the Arizona Cardinals and he wants to resign. His family is in Arizona, his life is there, he likes his teammates, coaches, etc. He doesn’t want to leave. However the contract they offer is way below what Rod feels he’s worth – he feels underappreciated. Jerry’s job is to find him a new team who will show him the money. Unsuccessful at finding a new job in the salary range he wants; Rod plays his final contract year as a free agent with nothing else lined up. Jerry’s plan for Rod is that he’ll have an amazing year and show both the Cardinals and other teams just how fantastic an experienced player he is and he’ll land a more lucrative contract that will last him until he plans to retire. Rod put on a show for an entire year – the equivalent of acing every interview he went on.

In the end, Rod got the contract that he wanted with the terms he wanted from Arizona, BUT they could have lost him to another team. All of this could have been avoided if Rod had felt appreciated, if his employer had displayed some gratitude for his work and dedication, and if they had focused on his wellbeing.

Quality talent and employees are difficult to find and harder to keep, especially now. It’s important to keep employees happy, and it’s not just about paying them more money – although a competitive wage is a big factor. Happy employees are productive employees. So what can you do to assure that your employees feel appreciated to prevent a Rod Tidwell situation where you have to fight for them to stay?

Communication. Often the number one issue in any organization is communication. Keeping your employees informed about company changes, goals, sales, important updates, etc. makes them feel like they matter. Also, providing feedback to employees is just as vital. Whether it’s a weekly check-in, a simple email asking how they are doing, or something more formal – feedback let’s employees know where they stand and how they are doing.

Recognition/appreciation. Let me be clear, a pizza party in lieu of expected yearly raises or bonuses is not going to be an effective way to show appreciation. However, acknowledging staff for landing a big account or completing a large or difficult project makes employees feel appreciated. If you are in the office, perhaps you have staff lunches on Friday or breakfasts on Tuesday. Working remote? Send employees a Dunkin’ gift card. Create an employee recognition wall in the office where people can congratulate others for a job well done or create a Google doc to use remotely to share nominees for an employee of the month. It doesn’t have to be anything big but show recognition and appreciation and do it often.

Team building. Stay with me here because I’m not talking about trust falls. This should be events that get the team together outside of work, on neutral ground. This could be closing the office early on a Thursday to host a happy hour for the team at a local vineyard or brewery where they play trivia. It should be fun and encourage your team to interact. Escape rooms, laser tag, or other activities that encourage working as a team foster relationships between employees including leadership. This helps foster your culture as well! Not forced but fun!

Providing benefits that matter. When employees stress about not having enough PTO to care for sick kids, take care of emergencies, or even plan doctor visits it can severely effect their wellbeing. If the health insurance or dental isn’t up to par and causes employees to have to choose between paying for a medical need or a utility bill this will also cause employee stress. Employees need benefits that take away stress, improve wellbeing, and actually benefit them. Poor benefits are one of the leading causes, aside from salary and terrible managers, that lead to employee’s leaving. If you’ve gotten feedback from past or current employees that the benefits are not competitive, now is the time to review them.

Employee wellbeing is about how the job – the duties, expectations, stress level, and environment – affects your employees overall health and happiness. Wellbeing also includes mood, cognition, and less tangible factors, like a sense of purpose. Above all, it’s about understanding your employees from a holistic perspective, considering the totality of their lives, and considering their overall quality of life. When you take the time to explore and reflect on your employees’ wellbeing and make positive changes, you may just find you’ll have happier, more loyal and productive staff.