What the Business World Figured Out Before Education Did

by | Sep 29, 2017

Teaching is not business.

This post may be about common practices in business and teaching, but I want to be clear that they are not one in the same and I am not saying they should be.


In fact, I once taught in a place where the initiative was to run the school like a business – complete with “customer satisfaction surveys” for students.

It did not go well.

Education is NOT a product we are selling.

Education is the sharing of knowledge. The development of skills, values, and purpose.

Education cannot and should not be boiled down to tactics taken from businessmen whose goal is making money.


That being said, now I am going to state something that sounds completely contradictory. And that is, education should be a little bit like business. Only a smidge. And just for the teachers.

Here’s what I mean:

What the Business World Figured Out Before Education

A decade or so ago the business world made a connection that has since transformed the inner workings of many top-level companies for the better. This connection required a top-down reworking of some of the best running business systems in the nation. It offered a new way of looking at business growth and productivity.

What they discovered was…

Happy Employees = Better Performance

There’s plenty of hard evidence that shows that happy employees lead directly to better performance and higher productivity and profits. The same companies that showcase higher revenues, due to placing their employees as a priority, also have been adding new employees at a rate 5 times higher than the national average.

The key ingredients to creating a work culture of happy employees within the business world don’t all translate to the education world – and we shouldn’t expect them to – after all education is NOT business.

Employee Perks That You Won’t See In Education:

  • There is no chance of profit sharing within publicly funded education – and no teacher, that I’ve heard of at least, that ever went into education for the money.
  • The open path to leadership isn’t that open within education. Although a teacher might start out in a less desirable position and perhaps go back to school and earn an MA or Ph.D or Ed.D and end their career in a leadership position, it’s not a direct path.
  • Certain “perks” in the business world just won’t fly in education. There won’t be “nap pods” or “adult slides” in teachers lounges anytime soon. Probably.

Employee Perks That Education Should Take Note of:

  • Fair Pay. It’s been said time and time again, but it never gets old. Teacher pay does not reflect their work, dedication, and responsibility. Although teachers enter the profession knowing that it will never make them rich, getting paid a fair wage that reflects the education, professionalism, and tireless work that they do would demonstrate respect and acknowledgment for their work. According to many business models – this will result in happier, better-performing employees.
  • Great Benefits. I have been a teacher long enough to see the big picture of benefits decreasing. I have seen retirement packages, insurance coverage, and overall benefits cost more, be offered less, and in many cases be removed altogether. Teaching is moving the opposite of many high-level companies – The longer and harder teachers work it seems the less will be available to them in benefits.
  • Empowerment. One word that can change it all. Businesses like Google are finding real tangible success with their model of offering employees autonomy and encouraging innovation. Some teachers (including myself) have adopted this methodology called “Genius Hour” into their teaching practices. Applying this to teachers, even at a much smaller scale, would demonstrate trust, professionalism, and undoubtedly result is some inspired ideas and happier staff.
  • Fun Workplace. More and more fortune 500 Companies are reflecting on their work environment and finding ways to infuse fun.  Having fun is a stress reliever. Having fun bonds a staff and refreshes them to face new tasks ahead. Having fun doesn’t mean forced professional development ice-breakers, it means a real culture of positivity and joy, of togetherness and appreciation of each other.

What it all comes down to is very simple:

It pays to invest in the happiness of your people. And, they’ll work better for you. Plus, it’s the right thing to do.

It Pays to Invest in Happiness


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