Corporate Gurus

Corporate Gurus


June 1999

A new crop of wellness experts is showing corporations what motivation and performance rewards look like in the New Age.

By Andrea Zoe Aster


Companies have always invited corporate cult figures and sales gurus to keynote meetings and conferences.  The belief is that these oracles of the modern age will dish out a few take-home mantras and insights to motivate sales staff to sell more.  Many companies have recently expanded their rosters of motivational tools and rewards by recognizing that employees who can handle stress, are more productive – which translates into a more profitable bottom line.  For meeting and incentive planners considering adding fresh content for a conference session or retreat, or for those toying with more long-term strategies to motivate performance on a daily basis, there is a whole range of effective, if unconventional strategies based on the simple principle that the better people feel, the better a company does.

To cite a few examples, …Warren Shepell Consultants Corp., one of Canada’s largest employee counseling firms, with 300 employees and 1,000 social workers located across the country, has just completed a redesign of its head office in Toronto to “revive employee energy”, based on the Chinese art of feng shui

“We’d reached a plateau.  The energy level just wasn’t as vibrant as it had been and that translates into lost productivity,” says Charles Benayon, the firm’s executive vice-president.  At the initiative of forward-thinking vice-chairman Morris Berchard, the company hired a feng shui practitioner named Malca Narrol.  (She was also the feng shui consultant for the design of the new Roots flagship store at Toronto’s Eaton Centre.)  The term means “wind and water” in Chinese.  The goal is to increase the qi (chi)or energy of a space by arranging the objects in it in a certain way.

“When Malca first came, she said she had no idea what our product was,” says Benayon.  “Our walls were lined with Canadian art.  She said she couldn’t tell if we were an ad agency or an art collector.  Considering our motto is ‘making a difference in peoples’ lives’ that wasn’t good.”  At Narrol’s suggestion that the space reflect the company’s motto and vision, Benayon went through 6,000 letters from satisfied clients that had been sent to the firm over the years and settled on 40 of them to frame and hang on the wall…

“It was a powerful experience for me,” says Benayon.

To help employees feel a deeper connection to their company, they each had their picture taken for an employee “Wall of Fame”.  Beside the fountain in the …boardroom, the lobby windows were replaced with frosted glass, so people couldn’t step off the elevator and see straight into the boardroom.  Plants and mirrors scattered throughout the office, added warmth and a cozy feel.  Employees who had desks in their offices facing a wall ..rearranged their furniture.  Having your back to the door supposedly dissipates energy.

“At three in the afternoon, I used to be ready for a nap,” says internal systems auditor Vijayantee Ramkumar about one month after the recent renovation.  “Now I’m energized around this time.”

Nevertheless, for all the talk of qi and feng shui, it’s not like companies are jumping on some hippie caravan and losing sight of why they’re adopting these effective, if unconventional methods of motivation and recognition.  Benayon’s new office (is) located in the “wealth and prosperity” corner(is equipped) with a small soft-light lamp to generate extra energy.  “Energy is money,” says Benayon, “and money is what makes the world go around.”

Contact us today for your commercial feng shui questions