These are lean times. Many businesses are letting go of staff and expecting greater productivity from those left. Businesses that have resisted the temptation of cutting costs by cutting the salaries bill also need to make sure the team is more effective than ever.
A productive and effective business is comprised of team members that are both happy and productive.
So, how do you create such a workplace?
Indeed, there are “happy” places, but not all are also productive. The trick is to ensure that workplace satisfaction, or “happiness” is linked to the creation of an effective and productive workplace.
While there are studies that list 6 or 10 or 12 factors, I believe the following 5 are the key factors to create a workplace that attracts and retains the most effective and productive staff.
1. A workplace with a strong Vision and Mission, and which values reinforce pride in membership.
As human beings, we are atavistic; a workplace is no different, in terms of “the tribe” than a football club. We want to belong; we are happier belonging than being an outlier; we choose to put effort into organisations, clubs, workplaces that we are proud to belong to. A company that has a strong and aspirational Vision of the future attracts employees who subscribe to that vision and they will work harder and better for a company they want to belong to; those who do not subscribe will naturally peel away, to your advantage.
A company that has an aspirational vision coupled with a clear and congruent mission and values will bind good staff – pride in the tribe will lead to effectiveness and productivity.
2. A workplace that ensures each team member knows what is expected of him or her.
This is partly inherent in having a clear mission – how we do what we do. However a mission statement is not enough; a mission statement describes what the company does in order to achieve its vision, but you also need to get down and dirty and ensure individuals know how they fit into the whole.
Each staff member, from joining, needs to know how they fit into the organisation structure, not merely who they report to but what is expected of their sub-team, how they contribute to achieving that, and what is expected of them individually. This is beyond “Job Description” but that is a start.
You need to ensure that each staff member knows why their working times are important, why they need to dress in a certain way and behave in a certain way. They need to know what, in their job, indicates “a good job”, by the numbers – is it hours spent? Is it numbers produced? Is it quality of product?
3. A workplace structure that provides encouragement, personal engagement and recognition.
This follows from each staff member knowing what is expected of them, individually. The structure of the organisation must have people in place who recognise and can identify “success” and “a good job,” and be empowered to recognise these achievements and encourage and reward.
In this context, “structure” includes a corporate culture that comes from the top. Just as supervisors should be trained to identify what is a subordinates’ “good job” and be empowered to quickly recognise and reward, they will not practice this unless management above them are seen to be recognizing their good jobs and encouraging them.
In this structure, there is never an excuse for “I’m too busy; I don’t have time to pat them on their backs; if I have to do it for her, goodness I have to do it for everyone too!”
Yes you do!
4. A workplace where individuals, no matter their position, can have their opinions heard and discussed
If people are recognised, encouraged and rewarded for doing a good job in a task that they know is expected of them, in a company that they desire to belong to, then surely their opinions need to be heard? More often than not the people at the coal-face can provide innovative, effective and productive solutions to day to day problems.
The vision, mission and values should be in place that extols contribution.
Let’s be clear. This does not mean that every suggestion has to be acted upon. It does mean that every suggestion needs to be heard and if not taken up, then the reasons explained. The vision, mission and values should be the guide to employees as to what should get taken up and what does not fit. In time, more and more valuable opinions will be voiced because people will see what fits into the vision and what is being created by it.
Again “I have no time to listen to everybody” is not good enough. You do have time to listen to everybody – what you do not have time for is to implement suggestions that don’t “fit” into vision, mission, values or strategy, and this should be explained to the exponent as a training matter as much as an explanation about how to use a tool correctly.
5. A workplace that provides the right (but not necessarily “the best”) resources that people need to be effective
Finally a happy workforce that subscribes to the vision, understands what is expected of them, is encouraged and heard, can crash into dissatisfaction and poor productivity if they cannot do what they need to do.
This means that you have to provide them with the tools, resources and equipment that they need in order to be effective. This does not necessarily mean the best of various options, which is often the newest and the most expensive. People need the right tools and resources and often enough this means good tools and resources used in combination that make them effective. The fastest robot on the production line can be trumped by manual utilisation of quality processes. A combination of spreading the right skills throughout the team coupled with the development of experience can trump the latest software.
How does your business compare against these 5 factors? Do you think you have a happy and productive workplace? I’d love to know.
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