Do you have a great place to work where your employees love coming to work each day?
Research shows that organisations that work hard to create a meaningful, Emotionally Intelligent work environment, are more easily able to increase engagement, performance and attract talent in the market.
The Great Place to Work Institute’s studies have shown that the “100 best places to work” outperform the average organisation by over 4 times. Despite this research not all businesses have realised that healthy, inspired people are happier, make better decisions, become more effective leaders and drive greater value for their organisations. These “Best Companies to Work For” have built engaging environments which repeatedly attract the best talent and produce amazing results.
Most modern businesses create value through service, intellectual property or creativity. This means that without people we have no product, so businesses need to ensure that people are engaged and bringing their passion to work.
Elements for building a Great place to work that lets people thrive:
- Purpose (Why). According to David Rock (Your Brain At Work), one of an organisation’s most important challenges is to give people a purpose. Simon Sinek (Start with Why) similarly talks about how important meaning is in the workplace. Dan Pink (Drive) suggests that purpose is the sense that what we do serves something meaningful beyond than ourselves. When we are passionate about what we do and when we believe in something greater than us, engagement is a natural by-product.
- Autonomy (Choice). When we feel we have some autonomy (choice), it allows us to be more creative. Dan Pink suggests autonomy is the desire to be self-directed. When we have passion, choice and responsibility at work we are more willing to bring more of ourselves to work. Studies show that companies that empower employees by giving them the tools to succeed and pay well, outperform those who attempt to “manage” the cost of labor. When we pay people fairly, thereby taking the issue of money off the table, we are more able to expend our discretionary effort to achieve the organisation’s purpose.
- Mastery (Growth). A frequent reason given for leaving an organisation is a lack of opportunities for growth and development. Dan Pink talks about mastery as the personal drive to keep improving at something that’s important to us. My research clearly demonstrates that organisations that support employees with effective training and career development outperform their peers in almost every industry. Mastery is an intrinsic motivator that is one of the strongest drivers of engagement and continuous learning. We all want the opportunity to grow; it helps us stay passionate about the business thereby keeping it more agile and innovative. Additionally, high performers want to stay in organisations with a focus on growth.
- Acknowledgement (praise). Do you tell people when they have done something well? What we measure, acknowledge and pay attention to gets repeated. When we focus exclusively on what is wrong, stress increases and our minds become focussed on mistakes and not innovation and success. Carol Dweck (Mindset) speaks about praising effort not just talent. Those praised for talent (seen as a fixed resource) tend to develop a fixed mindset more easily and don’t want to disappoint by failing (they tend to hide mistakes). Those praised for effort (a discretionary resource) tend to learn from mistakes and have a more innovative approach to life. Managers who lack Emotional Intelligence and treat employees as a number or commodity, can disengage employees very quickly. Gallup’s research clearly shows people leave managers, not organisations. Managing people with humanity is one of the most important parts of any organisation. Research shows that we grow and thrive when we feel supported and acknowledged. Coaching, feedback, and opportunities to develop lead to a more engage workforce. Managers who spend their time criticising employees (the traditional tick-box performance appraisals) can be perceived as being too demanding or poor communicators. This creates additional stress, fear and disengagement.
- Congruence (Walk your talk). The final element is inspirational leadership. The reign of the no nonsense, hard-nosed, profit-obsessed CEO is dwindling. A new generation of CEO is now realising that though it takes work to succeed, what inspires people to contribute is the heart and soul of the business. Does the organisation have a vision and mission you can relate to? Do you trust your leaders and do your leaders trust you to make the right decisions? The values of trust, integrity and passion start at the top with what the organisation’s leaders do. Work/life balance and putting our people first are great mottos, but mean nothing if the culture of the organisation is built around sacrifice and putting work first. As a leader we are always on stage, people watch what we do and learn from our example. Inspirational leaders live the values they speak about, showing us the way forward.
Remember to have fun!
Organisations like Zappos which have a focus on happiness have shown that focusing on fun and collaboration is a productive way to run a business. These organisations use benefits that are often fairly inexpensive to give people the freedom to work as they want to work, with less stress and drudgery. These environmental elements that create a little bit of fun help build a great place to work that is a humane and loving way to treat people.
In today’s highly competitive economy, building an Amazing place to work is one of the greatest competitive strengths we can have.
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