Culture” is the latest buzz word. Workplace leaders realize that creating engaged employees results in more productivity, better performance, more successful recruitment and retention … and it’s also just the right thing to do.
However, many established executives and managers take only small steps to improve culture and either fail to champion further initiatives or abandon the effort altogether. The truth is that organizations and departments oftentimes need to make the leap and undergo a culture shock in order to experience real changes that benefit their workforces and position them for success in the future.
The information below, developed by Roth Staffing Companies in conjunction with workplace culture expert and bestselling author Curt Coffman, outlines steps that employers and managers need to take to undergo a positive culture shock and come out on the other side with a more engaged workforce, in addition to examples of organizations that have experienced significant improvements from simple, imitable policies.
Successful Management Practices: Then and Now
Today, employees say that they crave meaning and purpose in their roles. Additionally, survey responses gathered by Quantum Workplace, an engagement survey and employee feedback company, indicates that a top driver of employee engagement is “the leaders of this organization are committed to making it a great place to work.”
“Your organization might have the world’s best systems, processes, and technology to drive people initiatives in the organization, but if they don’t meet the needs of current and future generations, they may not be of use,” explains Curt Coffman, Chief Science Officer of The Coffman Organization and bestselling author of Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch. “Great managers know when it’s time to make a change in order to do right by their employees and help them—and their businesses—not just survive, but thrive.”
An Action Plan to Revitalize and Revolutionize Culture
When it comes to driving cultural developments, the following “how to” list can help your department or organization get on track.
- Designate one person or team to champion new initiatives.
- Source feedback from employees—ask them what would increase their engagement.
- Research what’s worked for other organizations within your industry.
- Make a plan that includes a timeline of new program rollouts and SMART (specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, time-related) goals.
- Take baby steps and roll out one program at a time to ease into change.
- Be prepared for some discomfort; change is neither easy nor always welcome.
- Stay the course—long-term results aren’t going to be immediately visible.
- Celebrate small wins along the way, such as increased engagement scores on internal employee surveys or noticeable improvements in day-to-day camaraderie.
“Change doesn’t happen overnight, especially when new initiatives affect hundreds of coworkers spread across more than 100 locations nationwide, as is the case with Roth Staffing Companies,” says Adam Roth, Roth Staffing’s President and Chief Operating Officer, and architect of many of the company’s award-winning workplace programs. “For example, when our senior leadership team rolled out our 9/80 Flex Schedule that enables coworkers to work nine longer days in two weeks and have every other Friday off—the only one of its kind within the staffing industry—a majority of our managers had concerns. They wondered how they were going to keep their branch offices afloat with half of their coworkers out of the office every Friday. Yet, we saw significant increases in engagement among all coworkers after its implementation and increased productivity… not to mention greater financial success in the long run!”
Models of “Best to Work For” Culture
Although not all processes and programs may work for every organization, employees across all industries and geographies do crave certain policies and elements that these “Best to Work For” organizations swear by.
A Line of Sight to Their Purpose
Successful eye clinic chain Aravind Eye Care System has built their workforce and workplace around a single mission: “To eliminate needless blindness.” This enables everyone to rally around a single goal, and to understand how their actions help to better society.
Take away: Build a line of sight from each employee to your workplace’s overall purpose and position each person for success.
The 3M Company enables employees to dedicate 15% of work time toward creative pursuits. Another notable “Best Place to Work,” Google encourages coworkers to pursue their passions and develop innovations during work.
Take away: Allowing employees to discover and then explore their passions can spur out-of-the-box thinking and do wonders with breeding positive energy.
Hire the Right People and Trust in Employees
One financial services company in Mumbai, India gives employees the freedom to create their workdays, as long as they are physically present in the office for team meetings and essential duties.
Take away: Overseeing your employees closely is not going to make them more engaged—giving them freedom and trusting that they’ll do the right things, will. In this management model, anyone who doesn’t exude a passion for your business goals is going to stick out, enabling you to build upon a core staff of employees who are “all in.”
The Shock Will Wear Off
Injecting new cultural programs into your workplace can be a shock to the system… but the shock will wear off once they become the new norm and more coworkers jump on board. Take the leap and start taking steps toward improving your department or organization’s employee engagement—there may be some initial discomfort, even resistance and push-back, but it will be followed by positive results and a loyal, productive, excited workforce.
Sources: Curt Coffman and The Coffman Organization, Quantum Workplace, Aravind Eye Care System, 3M, Google.