Making Your Organization The Best Work Place
A google search on 'great place to work' gives about 80,20,00,000 results in 0.76 seconds! Extensive research has been done in this space to say the least. Wanting to design the best company to work for remains on top of the strategic agenda for executive teams worldwide. Engaged employees make better decisions and they are more productive and innovate more - they go out of their way to make stuff happen. Working with one of the great retail businesses in this world, here are a few things that I have come to truly believe in and are key to how we retain this focus on great place to work.
"Any Company that’s striving to be great place of work sees fun & humour and relaxation not as the enemies of hard work but as its allies."
Greater Transparency - Unleash the Flow of Information
The organization of today should not deceive, stonewall or spin. This was always an important lever of engagement and in the age of Facebook or twitter, as companies really need to rethink how they talk to their employees. Some ways by which organisations can move in this direction include:
- Changing workspaces to be more collaborative (not just within one building but across geographies). Collaboration creates a pool for greater ideas and innovation which is ultimately what will set apart a 'great' from a 'good' company.
- Moving to new performance management philosophy which takes us away from formal format and process driven system to a more frequent performance and development conversation. It should be less about filling a 'form'. It should be about how we inspire everyone to play their part in serving shoppers a little better every day.
- Leadership messages/cascades from the top. Communication of leadership messages should be less about sending mails and more about team huddles where the style is much more interactive. Organisations should aim for periodic colleague briefing sessions not just to share information but also to take ideas to develop plans together on how we can improve the workplace.
- Openness to both negative and positive feedback - Conversations should take place in such a way that it is constructive with openness to both negative and positive feedback, regardless of designation. This is what will foster an environment that allows individuals to grow.
Focus On the Right Messages
More than just choosing various modes of communication, focusing on giving employees the right messages with radical honesty is important. Organisations must make great efforts to communicate what is going on if they are to be heard and believed. Communication efforts must focus on achieving the following:
- Instilling a sense of pride in the employee for the company they work with - If this is achieved, employees will be proud to tell others where they work. They will be aware and value what the company stands for.
- Making work meaningful - This involves helping employees with their careers and understanding that not all career paths are built the same. Developmental experiences at work, strong training programs, reimbursed tuition for education outside of work along with active, well-thought out platforms for mentoring can provide pathways for non-traditional career paths.
- Eliminating the need for work-life balance - Understand that people have lives outside of work, and that these lives might sometimes impinge on (or even take over) their time and attention. It's not just about providing a few flexible work options (a first necessary step though), but how we let employees be the same person at home and at work and thus moving away from the need for balance. It is give and take, not give or take.
Recognize Diversity - Not Just In Gender & Age
We too often confine ourselves to the traditional diversity categories of gender, age and the like. These efforts are laudable, but this is something more subtle - differences in perspectives, habits of mind and core assumptions. We are moving from traditional diversity trainings/discussions to talking about 'unconscious bias'. It is a bias that happens automatically and is triggered by our brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences.
See Fun & Humour as Allies
Any company that's striving to be a great place of work sees fun& humor and relaxation not as the enemies of hard work, but as its allies. I have seen many companies trying to project manage this aspect by putting 'committees' together. While in some cases, these may work, this formal approach of forming a 'committee' takes the fun away! It's about employees coming together and deciding what they would like to do - from meditation groups (yes, meditation can be fun!), Zumba classes, to just gathering together for a meal.
The post 2000 era may give an impression of machines replacing all human jobs, but it is undeniable that good human resources management will be a necessity for the sustenance of companies for many years to come. Being a 'Great place to work' starts with the intention to build a positive workplace environment that should carry on for many years to come.