Updated: Sep 8, 2020
It was Richard Branson who infamously claimed that ‘Clients do not come first. Employees come first.' At Cocoon Business Solutions, home of the equally infamous ‘good biscuits’, we wholeheartedly agree.
Late last year, a member of our team had lunch with a friend who recounted a tale from her workplace:
She had recently had her work Christmas lunch on the same day as the Board meeting, where the CEO publicly undermined her, belittled her and questioned her competence. Three hours later over lunch, he grandiosely handed her a $250 Gold Class gift card to celebrate a great year. ‘Enjoy it with your husband’ he said, before moving on to the next person. She was single. She felt that while movies are great, not being treated like rubbish every day would be better. That night, she actively started looking for a new role.
The reason we share this story is because of our core belief that employees are without a doubt the most valuable asset to any business. Without a doubt. They are the single indicator of a business’ performance as staff satisfaction can be directly linked to hard data. While we’re usually loathe to use the expression ‘happy wife, happy life’, research shows that where employees feel valued, respected and connected to their workplace the way they function is an expression of this. And who is the end beneficiary of their satisfaction and fulfillment? Yes, the client or customer- thank you Sir Richard!
People are the means by which a collective workplace culture is created. When the workplace is one where people feel valued and appreciated they do not only do their job as laid out in their PD, but they become cheerleaders and allies. The alternative of this? They become saboteurs, either consciously or subconsciously. Either way, it’s not a healthy, sustainable situation for anyone, employee or business.
The perception of value and of being valued comes from a feeling of connection. When employees feel connected to the team, to the leadership and to the organisation, there is a direct correlation between the collective feeling of appreciation and the level of high performance.
Like the CEO described earlier, some leaders believe in an annual grand gesture- actually, they possibly don’t ‘believe’ so much as have budget for one. However, as per this article from Harvard Business Review, it’s the small, every day behaviours and actions that create a connected culture and embed organisational values to the every day experience of people. It’s the little things, unique to teams such as our ‘good biscuits’ that are viewed as more beneficial over time to enhancing employee satisfaction.
How well do you know your employees? Are they your greatest cheerleaders? We spoke with Alana Bennett, Employee Experience Coach from Connected Experience about how to create cheerleaders.
“Humans are born to crave and seek connection to literally keep ourselves alive. And now more than ever, this has become super important in workplaces. Employees have a basic need to connect to their work, their peers and their leaders and when businesses get this right this is the making of optimal performance and has a direct impact on business revenue.” Here are Alana’s tips for doing this well:
1. Value WHO your employees are before WHAT they do. If you were to do nothing else, just do this. Get to know WHO your employees are, what makes them tick, how do they like to be recognised and rewarded. Remember their important dates and I’m not just talking birthdays; I’m talking significant events. Don’t underestimate the impact when this is done well.
2. Genuinely care about your employees. Ask one person each day “How are you?” and then after you get their automatic “I’m ok/ good/ great, etc.” response, ask them “How are you, really?”. You don’t have to solve whatever problems they may share; you just need to listen and show you care. Which takes me nicely to the next tip;
3. Listen – how often do you actively listen versus hear? You know the difference, right? Those times, you’re in a conversation with someone and you’re looking at their mouth but not hearing what their saying. Now we don’t do this on purpose, however we can ensure we go into conversations prepared to listen. The next 1:1 meeting you have, before entering the room (virtually or physically) do this, PAUSE, breathe, and acknowledge what is on your mind in that moment. Write it down if it helps to get it off your mind. And then enter that conversation being in the right mindset to listen. Nothing says 'I'm connecting with you' more than active listening.
There is no science to this, there is no rule book, it is about being human!
For more information on Alana and her business, you can visit: www.connectedexperience.com.au
We also spoke with Alison Drew-Forster from Workology Co, who works with SMES to co-create exceptional workplace culture. We asked Alison— - what actually is workplace culture? And she gave us one of her favourite definitions:
“Culture is the DNA of your organisation. Or it should be. Workplace culture is the feel and flow of an organisation. It is a combination of personalities, policies and procedures and organisational structure that make up the demeanour of the organisation. It is in a sense, the personality of an organisation.”
Alison released a white paper in March 2020 (which you can find here) following extensive research into all things culture, and discovered there are six key ingredients needed for exceptional workplace culture.
Here is a great infographic courtesy of Alison, outlining the six key ingredients which will be available for download on the resources page.
We also asked Alison – why should business leaders even care about the culture of their organization? Alison explained:
“Put simply, exceptional workplace culture means more staff engagement, longevity and productivity. Your employees will remember how you treat them particularly during tough times. Which in turn will impact delivery and customer service. Do the right thing by your employees, and they will do the right thing by you and your business – even after they leave your organization”.
If you would like to know more about how you can improve the culture of your organization, you can reach Alison via firstname.lastname@example.org or 0400 019 599 or check out the website www.workologyco.com.au