Virgin founder Richard Branson claims that once missed what is usually a reason for dismissal in almost any company: Forgave an employee who stole from his record company. The reason behind this decision is that the billionaire believes in the value of second chances.
The founder of various companies recounted in an interview with Business Insider that he once received a call from a record store saying that a Virgin Records employee had tried to sell 100 stolen records of the signature.
“I had him call my office and told him it was better not to stealthat it wasn’t fair to the other workers and it wasn’t fair to him,” Branson said. “By giving him a second chance, he became one of our best employees and discovered groups like Culture Club, Genesis and other bands that were signed to the record label.”
Added Branson: “If I had done the conventional thing and just fired him, it would have been worse for him and worse for the company.”
Over the years, Branson has earned a reputation as an unorthodox businessman. Last year he managed to stay on the verge of space by sending up a Virgin Galactic rocket in a competition against former Amazon CEO and billionaire Jeff Bezos.
Bloomberg estimates that Branson’s net worth reaches 5,277 million euroswhich places him among the richest in the UK and among the 500 richest people in the world.
His wealth comes mainly from the Virgin Group conglomerate, which started out in the 1970s with a record store. It currently has more than 400 subsidiaries in various sectors such as entertainment, commerce, travel, hospitality or space tourism.
3 Simple, Low-Budget Strategies to Make Your Employees Happy and Improve Work Performance
Branson spoke with Business Insider on the occasion of his new series of master classes on disruptive entrepreneurship, which will also include tips on how to keep employees happy.
The billionaire stated that he fosters a work environment where employees come first and those who think differently should be given a chance. Branson had to deal with dyslexia in his teens and ended up dropping out of school at the age of 15.
“As a company, we have set out to hire people who have been released from prison and thus give them a second chance,” he said. “We have found that they have often become some of our best employees. We all make mistakes 1 or 2 times in lifeI did it when I was a teenager.”
Other entrepreneurs have taken an approach similar to Branson’s. The British company Timpson is known for hiring ex-prisoners. Its CEO, James Timpson, recruited 1,500 ex-offenders, of whom only 4 have returned to prison. talking about itthe CEO has stated that this allows them to turn their lives around and that trusting people pays off.
Take employee ideas into account
Virgin’s owner also indicated that One of the biggest mistakes managers make is not listening. and not taking into account the ideas of their employees: “That person will end up getting fed up and will leave the company for someone else who will listen to him”.
“I believe that having a notebook, being interested in the workers, receiving their opinions, writing them down and evaluating them, It’s almost more important than a raise“, he assured.
Branson was already encouraging remote work and flexibility before the pandemic hit, arguing that leaders who don’t “show a lack of confidence in their workforce.”
Virgin has not been immune to the effects of COVID-19. In 2020, Virgin Atlantic had to cut 3,500 jobs to deal with the consequences of the pandemic and laid off another 1,150 workers 2 months later. His futuristic transportation firm, Virgin Hyperloop, also laid off almost half of its workforce at the beginning of 2022.
Billionaire Richard Branson forgave an employee who stole from his company because he believes second chances make for better workers.