Updated: Jun 1, 2020
There have been shifts and changes throughout the decades on how employers view employees and vice-versa. The most common is how to get the most productivity out of an employee for less. Can you imagine a world where all employers treat their employees as human beings, who want meaning and purpose, both professionally and personally? Ever wonder why there are so many great employees coming in and going out of your organization in a short period of time? This article will focus on how to keep greatness within your organization and to cultivate the best of all your employees.
People don’t generally leave organizations, they leave people (managers and teammates) they work with. Every single one of us has started at the bottom at some point in our lives and moved up the ladder to a senior position, but sometimes we forget the obstacles we faced to get where we are. All of us, regardless of where we are currently in our careers and lives, want the same thing, success in our professional and personal lives. Remember, employees make your company grow and just as easily they can make your company fade. You may have the best product or service in the world, but without the right people (the front line) you will not be as successful. Learn to cultivate employees like your family, this will bring out loyalty and growth (professionally and personally) for everyone. These are 5 key areas that an organization must focus on to encourage employee greatness.
In the past and even currently, most organizations use the dangling the carrot method (perks and bonuses) to boost productivity/performance. But this method doesn’t really get the job done efficiently or effectively. It leads to a negative response, and employees cutting corners to achieve their targets.
But what if we treat everyone well all the time, ensuring the workplace is a positive place to be all the time. People can always make money, money isn’t always a motivator for all, only those you need the money will be motivated, but that does not mean they care about their work.
If you take away the dangling carrot like money, and instead focus on the following, it will boost performance and growth:
Care for, support, and inspire each other at work
Offer kindness and compassion during times of struggles
Forgive mistakes rather than placing blame, be a mentor instead
Display respect, gratitude, trust, and integrity
This shows you are invested in your employees and want them to grow and succeed. This will instill commitment and build strong confident team(s) to help the organization grow as one. Just think about when you apply for a job, if you love what you are doing and you are compensated well for it, you would be focused on getting more knowledge and growing professionally. One example is Google, allowing employees to think outside the box, giving employees places to congregate and relax, and creating an environment to inspire others while being competitive. If you would like to read more about what it is like to work at Google, please read this article.
I would like to reiterate people don’t leave organizations; they leave people. Conduct an exit interview to see where the gaps are and find out why employees are leaving; whether it is personal or professional growth, it is the environment, it is the compensation, flexibility, etc. The more you know, the more you can do to mend the gaps. Don’t be afraid of change and don’t think there is nothing you can do to improve your organization. Just like people, organizations also need to improve and evolve as we are in a global world and we view everything on a larger scale.
2. Meaningful Work
There are major implications on work/life balance when making work meaningful for your employees. Giving purpose can motivate employees to step up into a leadership role and take on longer hours, however, on the other hand working excessive hours without anything left for personal development is not in the end fulfilling.
Instead of working people into the ground with high ideals of achievement, it would be beneficial to encourage your employees to rest and take care of themselves, spend time with their families, and establish meaning in their lives outside of the office.
Hire good people and give them responsibilities that align with their unique capabilities, and mentor them towards personal and professional success, which also results in incredible enrichments to the organization. As an example, don’t focus too much on their past work history, instead focus on what they can potentially do. Giving people a chance, yes it can be a risk, but sometimes it is worth the risk, as they can surprise you. Remember, someone took a chance on you and it was a risk for them and look where you are now. People are human and we are all are looking for the same thing professionally and personally.
If you see someone that looks like they haven’t held a job for a long period of time, ask them why? Does their answer make sense, and think about yourself, why did you move from one job to another or why did you stay at one job? But remember, both give a very different history, skills, knowledge and learning environment. Someone who has been employed in different organizations has seen different types of scenarios or cultures, verses someone who has been at a one or two organizations. We all walk different lives and bring different skills and knowledge to the table, the key is to share and grow, embrace and cultivate it.
3. Employee Engagement
Every organization has employee engagement, but this usually means employees must be at work early, stay late, and forgo a balanced and healthy lifestyle. There are some really great organizations that also promote physical, emotional, and social well-being in their employees.
In mission-driven organizations where people are inspired to give time and effort to help others, they are rarely supported in caring for themselves. It is simply not realistic to expect employees to invest in a higher purpose if employers aren’t meeting their core needs.
Work will always be there, stating that we have lower hour work weeks from other organizations doesn’t cut it when employees are feeling burnout. When employees feel that their core needs are being met, they come to work with more initiative to give to their teams. By living their purpose outside of work, people derive inspiration and motivation to contribute their best at work. Instead of worrying about when your employees arrive in the morning, how long their lunch breaks are, or when they leave, just ensure their work is done for the week and by the deadlines.
Trust that the people you have hired can do the job and balance their personal and work life. Set realistic goals and achievements. Stop thinking about what your title is and what their title is, treat them with respect, be grateful towards them and show them you appreciate their efforts. This will encourage them and motivate them to be better version of themselves. Yes, the responsibilities may be different, but the overall goals are similar, if not the same. People work the best when they don’t have to worry about other things. Eliminate the worries and you will see better overall results.
4. Work Culture
Positive company culture begins in the praiseworthy, inspiration-worthy behaviours that reflect the core values of an organization of leaders. The leaders of the organization set the work culture for all, if you want your employees to have the core values, you must lead by example. Trust them to do the best for your organization, as you would. Motivate them and encourage them to be curious and creative, which leads to inspirations. Ensure they are not overworking themselves. Treat them as you would your family, because work is family as well, because we spend a large amount of our time at work.
As an example, being afraid that someone has more knowledge than you. There will always be someone who has more knowledge than you, but instead of fearing it, you should embrace it. Do not be afraid of losing your job because someone has automated certain functions or areas, increased productivity or efficiency, this should be a great thing. It should not be something to worry about or question why didn’t you think of it. Instead you should encourage these types of behaviours and ask for a demonstration of how it works, if you do not have the need for this new procedure or idea, give the reasons as to why it does not work for the time being. The inappropriate answer is “there is nothing wrong with the current process.” My response to that would be “yes, there is nothing wrong with the current process, however, this increases efficiency, less human errors and I can use my time productively and it is standardization (it makes the process simple and plain).” The first answer makes employees not want to help anymore and figure why should they give any ideas if it’s only going to be treated as a useless idea. By reacting this way, it actually hinders the growth of organizations and the employees.
I would like to give one more example. There was nothing wrong with walking or riding horseback before the invention of horse buggies, then trains, manual cars, automated cars, airplanes, but we still keep looking for more ways to increase productivity and efficiencies. These are all meant to make our time more efficient. Instead of walking for an hour, we drive for 10 mins and we can fit more duties, responsibilities, and other activities into our day. All of these improvements began as an idea, that was later supported by an organization.
5. Employee Happiness
Focus on all aspects of making an employee happy and not just the material comforts such as office space and flexible hours. Instead focus on removing whatever is in the way of connection and empowerment. Make the workplace more humanized and remove the following obstacles:
Forced or stacked ranking: using your seniority and position within the company to intimidate others instead of being open to suggestions and the knowledge shared by others.
Red tape bureaucracy and rules: having an ‘It’s not up to me, it is company policy’ mentality doesn’t show that you as a manager, care about addressing the concern of the employee.
Ancient policies around attendance and bereavement leave: ‘We have always had this policy and we can’t make exceptions’ does not provide valid justification. Enforcing policies is sometimes required, but these policies must also reflect the number of employees on hand.
Individual performance management systems: Tying bonuses to only performance and not including personal growth targets doesn’t provide the right motivation and leaves the employee feeling as though they are only valued by their contribution to the company’s bottom line.
Getting rid of the fear mentality and encouraging a trusting, supportive and open environment creates potential and inspiration to flourish and allows employees to not feel judged. If we are supporting our employees both professionally and personally, the return on investment (ROI) is even greater, as employees are willing to participate, share ideas, and ensure the organization succeeds. Happy or disgruntle employees will spread news via social media or by word of mouth.
The best thing you can do for your organization is insure you keep your employees happy and if they decide they are going to be parting from your organization, be happy for them and give them gratitude for all their contributions to the organization. The impression this provides will outweigh any marketing expense as it is real and honest. It will be the best marketing tool you can get for your organization. Remember, in your journey you have moved up the ladder and across many organizations to get where you are, and it is always for self betterment and looking for the next challenge, embrace the changes and teach the next person that chooses to build their career on the reputation of your company. People will always only remember how you make them feel.
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