5 Techniques for Enhancing Your Workplace Culture and Maintaining a Competitive Edge
In today’s global economy, competitors aren’t just down the street or across town; they’re located in virtually every developing country around the globe.
Accordingly, every organization strives to set themselves apart from the competition and, when they’re all searching for top talent, the most visible and effective way to set your company apart from the competition – and help in attracting highly qualified recruits – is to incorporate progressive HR practices that add value.
While every workplace culture is unique and no one program, policy or initiative is going to be successful for every organization, there are some basic things you can do to enhance your culture, improve employee satisfaction, engage your employees and create an atmosphere of trust.
People talk about building high-performance teams but few understand how to create the experience of teamwork or in how to develop an effective team. With more than two decades of consulting experience, this Author has worked with over 100 different organizations; thus, have seen firsthand what works and what doesn’t no matter the industry, location or product and the most effective methods include:
The # 1 factor that negatively impacts employee morale is persistent and chronic negativity; whether it takes the form of gossip, backbiting, conflict, inappropriate jokes or harassment, a culture that suffers from these types of behaviors (which serve no business purpose) “may” (if unchecked) rise to the level of a Hostile Work Environment.
While these behaviors can increase turnover, reduce employee satisfaction, foster an environment of distrust and hurt both productivity and the bottom line, “if” they go unchecked and rise to the definition of a Hostile Work Environment, they also create enormous liability for the organization; therefore, in addition to sapping energy from the organization and diverting attention away from the work, performance, and productivity, these negative behaviors could cost your organization big bucks.
However, from a recruiting and hiring perspective, a culture that suffers from negative attitudes and behaviors will have an extremely difficult time attracting quality applicants – particularly in the age of social media; the reputation of the organization will make hiring top talent all but impossible.
The adoption of zero tolerance standards can go a long way to mitigating the effects of negativity in the workplace; once these dysfunctional behaviors are forbidden, those that engage in (and even need) this behavior will be ostracized. Some of the most effective methods available for enforcing zero tolerance standards are: < Comprehensive code of professional conduct;
< Harassment avoidance training;
< Model respect, every single person wants to fee that they’re respected;
< Build a strategic framework to include the adoption of a mission statement, vision and, more importantly, values;
< The development of guiding principles;
< A performance development and appraisal process that evaluates each employee on not only “what” they did but “how” they did it; with half of the employee’s score being “what” they did and half being “how” they did it, high performers with a rotten attitudes would not be eligible for a raise and may even be put on probation. Once an employee realizes that their ability to get along with others will be a factor in awarding merit increases and/or bonus awards, you’ll realize a transformed workplace.
< Organizations whose employees understand the mission and goals enjoy a 29% greater return than other firms.
# 2.) Show Appreciation To Enhance Your Workplace Culture!
After years of administering employee survey’s, analyzing exit interviews and facilitating hundreds of focus groups, appreciation is consistently one of the top three issues workers express frustration and displeasure with; however, that does not mean a big fancy recognition or rewards program, nor does it need to cost the organization any money to be highly effective.
You can tell your colleagues, co-workers, and staff how much you value them and their contribution any day of the year. Trust me. No occasion is necessary. In fact, small surprises and tokens of your appreciation spread throughout the year help the people in your work life feel valued all year long.
Unfortunately, however, every organization has weak or poor managers; therefore, while you can train, develop and teach managers on how to interact with employee’s, some will still revert to what they know in which case it’s the Executive team and/or HR to mentor the manager(s).
Given that most startups, and virtually all small employers, have a tendency to grow organically (meaning they often promote the best person already in the department rather than to conduct a comprehensive search for the most qualified candidate); this growth from within phenomena is often due to a lack of standardized recruiting and hiring practices, combined with a pressing need to put someone in the role immediately; however, organic growth doesn’t usually come with the necessary staff development on the front end to prepare and train someone who’s a great Programmer or Technician for moving into a management role. As a consequence, it’s quite common for these types of organizations to have a team of first line managers for whom this is their first manager role; therefore, it’s essential, as the organization grows, that they ensure each front-line manager completes a basic management skills curriculum that includes the following:
< Behavioral Interviewing
< Employment Law and the EEOC
< Sexual Harassment Avoidance
< Coaching, Counseling & Disciplining
< Performance Management
< Role of the Leader
# 4.) Staff Development and Team-Building to Enhance Your Workplace Culture:
For a multitude of reasons, it’s essential that staff developmentwise integrated and reinforced as part of a learning culture which begins during the orientation and onboarding process and continues throughout the year via a performance development philosophy. Whether it’s a simple team building event, soft skills development or hard skills training, making staff development an integral part of the culture is necessary for enhancing any workplace culture and for ensuring that, as people are promoted from within, that they have the skills necessary to succeed.
# 5.) Consistency, Trust and Communications can and will Enhanceng Your Workplace Culture:
During three decades of consulting, this Author has helped dozens of organizations suffering from poor morale, low productivity, high turnover and dismal staff satisfaction scores and, more often than not, those symptoms can be attributed to inconsistent, infrequent and ineffective communications which, in turn, leads to a lack of trust and transparency. In fact, there’s not a single organization that couldn’t benefit from enhanced communications.
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to improving communications; every organization and culture is unique; although, from an antidotal perspective, the global information age of today’s workplace tends to reply too much (and, in some cases, solely) on electronic communications (i.e. e-mails, texts, voicemails and the like).
And, while the electronic age has revolutionized the way we work and is credited with enhancing productivity throughout our economy, it’s this Author’s professional opinion that too many organizations rely too much on electronic communications; thus, they often suffer from a lack of interpersonal communications. Without the ability to view facial ques, ask questions and/or seek greater understanding, each person that reads an e-mail announcement of a company change is going to have a different perception of what that means for them; therefore, while we certainly have more ways in which to communicate; NONE of them can take the place of one-on-one exchanges and/or all staff meetings.
While parts of this blog come from antidotal evidence from over two decades of consulting, the majority of it can be quantified through any employee survey, focus group or exit interview. Unfortunately, however, most organizations still don’t place a high priority on enhancing their workplace culture and, as you can see from above, it doesn’t require a large capital investment; instead, it merely requires time and energy to ensure that employee engagement remains a priority for the organization.
If your organization could benefit from a cultural “tune-up”, please don’t hesitate to contact Mike Russell
Mike Russell, HR Consultant
Call me and let’s discuss: 773-807-8437