I read somewhere, ‘Where you spend most of your day may as well be like home, let's get you settled!’
Just this one line spoke so much about the organization's intention towards its people, its workplace and its future. The biggest asset of any organization is its people! You can have ideas, strategies, and capital but the one thing that you bet on are the people. It's like carefully and methodically choosing the right musicians for your orchestra, and any seasoned leader would vouch, it's a painstaking process which is ever evolving.
While you can try hard to hire the right fit, what actually will pay dividends in the long run, is the collaborative effort towards providing the right environment and support to nurture that hire. There needs to be a sincere effort towards encouraging, embracing, and appreciating the individuality of your employees. Each of them brings to the table a diversity of thought, experience, passion, imagination, and most importantly the potential that comes from that individuality.
Lets not forget that the onus of enabling a good workplace environment lies equally on the employees as well as the leader. Here are some simple yet impactful ideas that can help in the journey:
A sense of belonging
What differentiates a highly productive organization from the rest? is it strategy? products? team strength? Maybe, but in the longer run this advantage could fade if it does not have a strong foundation. Something that helps the organization and its people sustain and grow over time.
This foundation is essentially the purpose or the sense of belonging. Where do I belong? What am I contributing towards? Is my work adding value or creating impact?
Being able to relate to a larger purpose, and then connect the dots to realise your true contribution allows employees and teams to define how they do their work? How do they create impact?
While this resonates at the foundational level, organizations can then shape a stronger link between the purpose and the organizational goals, by strengthening the employees' connection with their teams and helping them understand the correlation between shared goals.
Right from the induction to introduction of team members, from designing yearly milestones or targets to the engagement activities, if the goals can be articulated to connect to the purpose, then there won't be a need for micro management, as everyone will basically be in sync.
Change is the only constant! The future of work holds a ray of hope for organizations who are willing to be flexible yet be able to offer a connected experience. A workplace that can act as a glue to keep the teams together, no matter their location, their style of working or their backgrounds.
For an employee to be productive and efficient, they need to be able to choose how they work, in a cubicle-focussed by themselves or in an open layout amongst peers, have the option of flexible working hours to balance home and work, have the option to connect to a diverse set of individuals to enhance their skills and perspectives.
This is where you can help design flexibility into the workplace and working style. One such solution that is increasingly being chosen by employers is the decision to work out of coworking spaces or have their satellite offices situated within shared workspaces that allows access to a diverse and inclusive workforce while saving costs.
Shared workspaces allow for teams to develop their skill sets, connect with like minded individuals, have access to the latest technologies and infrastructure all while focussing on work. This instills a sense of ownership, a sense of responsibility along with flexibility that has proven to enhance an employee experience and help build a culture of trust.
Employee first strategies
British/American Author Simon Sinek said, ‘When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute’.
The aim should be to create strategies that involve and include the employees so that they are invested in them equally. We all do have our normal policies that help assist the employees and the organization, but some additional strategies can make room for innovation and creativity in the way your organization and team functions.
- Collaboration: Creating ways for teams to collaborate and connect with beyond just work. Designing platforms to engage with external partners and experts to enhance their experience and growth.
- Investing in long term professional and personal development: A company cannot grow without ensuring the growth of its employees. It important to create programs or design conversations that enable leaders and managers to understand the long term and short term goals of the team. If they haven't figured it out, help them design a career path. Professional growth always fuels personal goals in life. Acknowledge them, guide the employee with ways to achieve them. And don't let this just be a conversation that happens once a year in a retreat or a review, work on it constructively just like you would on your quarterly milestones. Design a robust and transparent rewards and recognition program, find a way to incentivise and appreciate. You will see that even though the progress isn't immediate, it conveys that you are equally invested in them as much as they are in you.
- Respect all and while you are at it, add a little humour!: If you respect and treat your team the way you wish to be treated, it will make them feel valued and heard despite their role and position. Create a platform for them to voice their concern, opinion or just give their feedback.
- What Dale Carnegie said is that, ‘People rarely succeed unless they are having fun in what they do.’ Find pockets to wriggle a little fun, a little humour into stressful situations at work, create projects beyond scope of work that allows to develop passion or hobbies.
- Wellness and compassion: Health and welfare or everyone, be it your boss or your team member, should come first. Addressing stress related to work, or a personal issue, showing compassion and extending support should be in the DNA. One way to inculcate this, is by bringing together the entire team to volunteer or support a cause at equal intervals or when a situation arises. It creates a culture of care.
Well there isnt a magic formula, but what it takes is consistent leadership and team focus, intent to adapt and tweak, invest energy and resources to create a workplace environment that allows you to be comfortable, connected and valued.