Are your employees as productive as they could be? Is the office bubbling over with creativity, interaction and innovation? Are you confident that remote workers are putting in 100% effort regardless of their location? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’ or even ‘I’m not sure’ then, as a brand, you’re probably not providing the right environment and there’s improvements to be made.
1. ‘Recognition’ is a dirty word
As humans, we need to be shown appreciation for our efforts. Without appreciation, employees have no confirmation that their work is valued.
When employees and the work they do for the brand are recognised, their productivity and motivation rises and they have a greater sense of satisfaction.
“Only 14% of organisations provide managers with the necessary tools for rewards and recognition.”
Recognition can be a simple ‘thank you’, a mention on the company social media feed or an incentive program run by the company. The important thing is that, whatever strategy is used, the appreciation shown has to be sincere.
A culture of recognition encourages and nurtures employee engagement, helping your office to become a place where employees want to be. Healthy working relationships and positive working environments go hand-in-hand and contribute to a successful business.
A healthy and appreciative working environment will also reduce turnover, increase team culture and, in turn, improve customer experience. 41% of companies that use peer-to-peer recognition have seen marked positive increases in customer satisfaction.
Some employee recognition ideas include:
- Employee of the month award
- An employee recognition section in the company update
- Personalised awards
- Extra-long lunch breaks or a half day
2. Mud is more transparent
“Employees put a high premium on transparency in their interactions with different levels of management, going as far as naming it the top factor in determining their happiness and satisfaction in the workplace. No one wants to work for a company if they don’t know what it stands for and what its long-term plans are.”
A company culture that values and understands the importance of transparency in the workplace naturally attracts and nurtures engaged employees.
Without transparency trust cannot flourish between employees and management, innovation will be stunted and productivity will suffer.
In a Harvard Business Review survey it was revealed that 70% said they’re most engaged when senior leadership continually updates and communicates company strategy.
In addition to being open with your customers about what you’re doing as a brand, practising greater transparency within your business will encourage a positive employee culture.
According to a 2014 American Psychological Association survey, 25% of respondents don’t trust their employer.
Simply demonstrating that business leaders trust their employees with information about the organisation’s successes, failures and strategies help to build trust and respect.
When employees are aware of everything that the brand is doing, and trying to do, then they’re able to contribute to problem solving, improving existing processes and general discussion regarding the direction of the business.
Harvard Business Review’s 2013 employee engagement survey reported that 70% of employees said they’re most engaged when senior leaders update and communicate company strategy openly.
An environment where staff are exposed to hushed management conversations in the open office, secret meetings and only being told of business decisions, which they should be included in, after they’ve occurred is not conducive to productivity or a happy workforce.
3. Your business leaders do nothing to gain respect
Respect isn’t a right and managers can’t expect it automatically from their team. Earning the respect of your subordinates (and peers) is an ongoing responsibility and duty of any good leader.
Qualities that any leader worth their wage should be showing include:
- Having a tireless work ethic and leading by example
- Openly praise their team for a job well done
- They’re not afraid to make difficult decisions
- Follow through on promises
- They can admit mistakes and correct them
- They take their teams suggestions, ideas and feedback into consideration
- They’ll defend their team when needed
“In a large-scale study of over 3,000 employees conducted by Anna Nyberg at the Karolinska Institute, results showed a strong link between leadership behaviour and heart disease in employees. Stress-producing bosses are literally bad for the heart.”
– Harvard Business Review
4. Your company culture is unhealthy
Company culture is the personality of your brand. As Entrereneur.com defines it, a culture is “a blend of the values, beliefs, taboos, symbols, rituals and myths all companies develop over time.”
Making the assumption that the only way to maximise results is to pressure employees and create a working environment that has no other consideration than making a profit is outdated and misinformed.
High-pressure environments not only affect employee well being and absence but are not actually conducive to productivity.
Over time this type of culture has a negative impact on employee engagement and productivity levels dip. According to Harvard business Review:
In organisations with low employee engagement scores, they experienced 18% lower productivity, 16% lower profitability, 37% lower job growth, and 65% lower share price over time. Importantly, businesses with highly engaged employees enjoyed 100% more job applications.”
Disengaged employees are not only less productive but will contribute to a higher staff turnover and associated costs. Companies with a healthy culture enjoyed a 34% less likelihood of staff turnover when compared with brands with poor cultures.
Cultures are infectious, just as a great company culture will welcome and encourage a new member of staff to become a valued employee, a poor culture will quickly damage new starters work ethic and motivation.
5. It’s just not an inspiring place to work
As well as the other points in this article, providing employees with the flexibility to work from anywhere and at a time that is more suited to when they work best is just one element of an environment that inspires creativity and encourages productive and happy employees.
Some employees are naturally morning people and will work best when arriving in the office before everyone else. Others will only become 100% productive after lunch.
Providing your workforce with the opportunity and means to work during their most productive hours will improve efficiencies and increase happiness throughout your employee base.
Looking and taking note of when employees work productively will give you an idea of their peak performance times.
When are the periods when workers are productive for 90 minutes or more without having to take a substantial break? This will likely be the time of day when they’re at their most productive.
The physical design of the office is also a crucial factor which should be taken into account when trying to increase inspiration and the general wellness of employees.
- Does the office decor encourage productivity and inspire your employees to give 110% for the business?
- What colour are the walls in your office?
- Has communication, collaboration and general cohesiveness been taken into account when designing the work areas?
- Are there spaces that enable uninterrupted focus available to employees?
- Are there social areas which encourage discussion and creativity?
- Is there good, natural light?
“A recent survey by office furniture retailer Steelcase and research firm Ipsos found that nearly 90 percent of workers around the world are less than satisfied with their work environments…”
– Business News Daily
For a great resource of office design inspiration, Office Snapshots updates their site daily with workplaces from around the world that have gone the extra mile.
Working from home, the coffee shop or during a business trip should not prove any less productive or be any less difficult than if an employee were in the office. Ensuring that employees are aware of and understand the business processes and tools at their disposal to remain productive should be a priority for HR.
“Eighty-six percent of those surveyed said they preferred to work alone to “hit maximum productivity.” What’s more, two-thirds of managers say employees who work remotely increase their overall productivity.”
Compliance can be administered through the company intranet or employee self-service portal using digital documents and signatures. Ongoing training should be factored into employee development to ensure that new processes and business tools are fully utilised by employees.
6. Innovation and dynamism are alien concepts
Innovation is crucial to the success of every company and often begins with creativity and the sharing of ideas. Getting employees to think creatively isn’t always easy though and is sometimes ignored completely.
Make sure employees are kept informed and ask for their feedback, ideas and input. Individuals who are involved in the planning process are more motivated to see results and projects completed.
“When CEOs were asked, “What is the skill you most value in your people?”, they said creativity, the ability to solve problems, come up with new solutions, and use brainpower to figure things out.”
Collaboration and communication between team members (and teams) is an essential element when promoting innovation. Regardless of whether the employee is remote or not, it’s important to facilitate regular discussions to combine knowledge and ideas.
Leading by example your managers should be sharing ideas, taking calculated risks and researching new and innovative ways to address business challenges and drive the brand forward.
If people don’t feel a connection to your brand or have a sense of purpose, there’s little to incentivise their engagement and innovation.
7. Your business tools are from the dark ages (or don’t exist)
Continually reviewing and improving internal processes, and the tools that support them, is key to business success, efficiency and productivity.
If you’ve not spoken to the solution provider or looked to the market regarding your options for a while then you’ll not be aware of the latest developments and improvements which could optimise your business.
Discussing your current solutions, their strengths and weaknesses and your available options with employees will encourage open and honest feedback and combine requirements for a holistic approach to upgrading the systems that you use.