People are the product - showing appreciation24/05/2016
We need to redefine our perspective on employees: they are the very essence of your brand; what makes your business great. People are your product and services.
Our experience has led us to develop our own theory about employee engagement, that it’s all about making TIME* to drive engagement: Rome was not built in a day, and creating a high performance work environment is a complex issue that takes time to understand and resolve. We have to communicate the mission, vision and values of the organisation and encourage managers, leaders and staff to live and breathe those values each and every day.
We need to carefully select the right people who will fit with the organisation’s culture and values. And, once people come on board, we have to make sure the environment is also aligned with the values and culture of the company a place where people are happy to come and work. All these things should be part of a continuous cycle of tweaking and improvement to make work fun, meaningful and enriching for everyone.
T trust & leadership
I invest in people
M make it meaningful
E environment matters
|Trust & leadership||Invest in People||Make it meaningful||Environment matters|
|Clear, transparent goals||Coaching not evaluation||Making a difference||Flexible work environment|
|Training for new managers||Opportunities to learn||Find the flow||Rewards & recognition|
|Mission & purpose||Hire to ‘fit’||Wellbeing||Water cooler moments|
T – Trust & leadership
This is about inspirational leadership. The days of the hard-nosed profit obsessed leader are slowly coming to an end. Nowadays we want our leaders to inspire, engender trust and have a corporate consciousness that forms the soul of the business. Leaders need to articulate a clear mission and vision with clear and transparent goals.
Training for new managers is a must. Historically there is a lot of support for Directors and CEOs in organisations, but rarely for front line managers. When you become a manager you don‘t only change your job, you change your entire career. Having once been responsble for just your own contribution to the business, your success now depends entirely on the success of the people you are managing. We need to resestablish the nobility of leadership.
I - Invest in people
It goes without saying, investing in people doesn’t just mean offering training courses and development programmes, rather it’s about providing an inclusive and supportive environment where people feel valued and trusted. We need to think differently about how we engage with staff. For years the ‘annual appraisal’ has formed the bedrock of engagement strategies, but how effective is it really? They can often have a negative effect on morale, creating fear and inducing unnecessary stress. They’re often not done in real time whereas more regular, one on one interaction with staff, would undoubtedly provide a far better insight into mood and key issues. Equally, most appraisals centre on what needs to be improved when really we should be moving towards more strength based evaluations.
As one of the main reasons people leave organisations, providing employees with opportunities to learn more is hugely important. Training, career development and continuous learning opportunities keep people motivated and more likely to remain within an organisation.
The science of fit is becoming more a widely accepted approach to recruitment. We still hire on the basis of experience, age, and expertise, but what if we started to look at recruiting people based on how they fit with the culture of an organisation? AMC cinemas traditionally recruited on the basis of experience in their sector, but after consultation soon realised that employing happy people was the key to an improved customer experience, higher sales of popcorn and increased profits.
M – Make it meaningful
We’ve not long come out of a dreadful recession where young people saw lots of ethical lapses and businesses doing bad things that were right in the public eye. As a result, this next generation of workers, expect their employer to do more than just make money; they expect them to do good and believe it’s the business's duty to help society. Individuals like to know they’re making a difference. The company vision and how it relates to the work they do is directly tied to employee engagement, health, and happiness.
It’s true to say that today’s employees are frequently overwhelmed with information, heavy workloads and never ending ‘to-do’ lists. Managing wellbeing in the workplace is fast becoming one of the key priorities for managers and business colleagues. Research suggests there are a number of factors that increase wellbeing including autonomy, fairness, and job security, but key to it all is ensuring on-going open and honest communication with employees.
At some point or other we’ve all experienced a state of ‘flow’ at work; flow being “a psychological state where a person is fully focused or immersed on an activity or task”. When we’re in our flow, we become fully immersed in what we’re doing which leads to greater happiness and productivity. In a recent Gallup survey, the average business person spends less than 5% of their day in flow, so creating an environment that fosters flow should be high on the managerial ‘to-do’ list.
E – Environment Matters
We’re spending more time than ever in the workplace, so wherever possible the physical environment should be meaningful, fun and inclusive, where people have the freedom to work as they want to and actually enjoy their time in the office. The environment should reflect the culture of the organisation whether this is having open and collaborative spaces or introducing more quirky elements. Echoing the values of your organisation though the physical environment can create a sense of unity amongst employees and provide a welcoming and unique space for visitors
Offices need to have more water cooler moments; those informal chit chats that normally occur when teammates take a break together and spend a few minutes - or much longer - to chat about random topics. They help trigger and diffuse ideas and information across an organisation, allow team members to know each other better and encourage collaboration and higher productivity.
Appreciation is a fundamental human need. Employees respond to appreciation expressed through recognition of their good work because it confirms their work is valued. When employees and their work are valued, their satisfaction and productivity rises, and they are motivated to maintain or improve their good work.
Rewards come in all shapes and sizes, and can be tangible or intangible. Tangible rewards include such things as a clock, a gift certificate, a bonus or a pay increase. But intangible rewards can be just as effective and cost the company far less. Just doing something as simple as taking the employee out to lunch to celebrate their achievement or give the employee extra time off can have a huge impact.
People are the Product
We need to take an holistic look at employee engagement; move away from annual surveys and appraisals, and think more about the entire employee experience.
If people love their work, and the environment you’ve created, they will treat your customers better, be your best brand ambassadors and become a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.