One of the biggest challenges today in the marketplace is employee engagement. National surveys tell us that 70 percent of employees are not engaged in their work. This lack of engagement has a significant impact on the bottom line of businesses and our national economy. One of the key reasons for this lack of engagement is that people don’t feel appreciated in the marketplace. I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with Dr. Paul White, co-author of the best-selling book The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace. I learned from my work with him the startling fact that 65 percent of employees report they have received no appreciation in the previous year. Companies around the country are now realizing that one of the easiest ways to impact their bottom line is to be intentional about showing appreciation and cultivating greater employee engagement.
Christina Treppendahl, owner of The Headache Center in Ridgeland, understands the importance of treating employees with respect and valuing them. Treppendahl, a native of Natchez, first pursued a culinary career and went to Johnson & Wales Culinary University. She shared, “I went to culinary school because of my love of food and cooking, but it was not the right career for me. It took my passion for the kitchen away from me; however, I still love to cook at home.” Treppendahl earned a master’s degree in neonatal nursing from Vanderbilt University and she practiced as a neonatal nurse practitioner for 10 years.
At age 37 with four small children at home, she decided that she wanted to be a family nurse practitioner. However, she could not quit working to return to school so she continued to work in a critical care unit as a staff RN while commuting to college in Columbus weekly at the Mississippi University for Women. She recently fulfilled a dream to own her own business by opening The Headache Center in the Renaissance in Ridgeland.
Treppendahl noted, “I have been an employee most of my life. I know that when you treat people like dirt or like they are common and can be replaced, you get back very unsatisfactory work.” She continued, “People need to know that they are valuable. If they don’t know they are valuable, it is the employer’s responsibility to show them how much potential they have so they will give more of themselves and be more dedicated to improving the overall outcome of the business (because they are valued as part of the team).” She clearly understands that you “win with people” in business.
Treppendahl also recognizes the importance of leading with a positive attitude. She emphasized, “I try to seize every day with optimism and perseverance. Life is not about what happens to us but how we handle what happens to us.” She believes that simple things like smiling at people, patting them on back and saying things like “good job” or “we can get through this day together” or “I could not have done this without you” means the world. She has found that people gravitate towards attractive (well-groomed) people that have gregarious personalities and who don’t go around complaining. She wisely noted, “Your attitude is everything. The boss’s tone sets the tone of the whole office.”
I am impressed with Treppendahl’s commitment and dedication. Having been an employee will serve her well now as an owner. I am sure that she will build a successful organization and fulfill her vision of growing and replicating her new business model by building a highly engaged team.
» Martin Willoughby is a business consultant and regular contributing columnist for the Mississippi Business Journal. He serves as Chief Operating Officer of Butler Snow Advisory Services, LLC and can be reached at martin.willoughby@ butlersnow.com.