By Victor Ruiz
Discovering the key elements and behaviors that contribute to creating strong & cohesive teams, that work together to achieve goals, in a healthy and a happy working atmosphere
Employee engagement can be described in many different ways, maybe as many ways as people attempt to define it. Possibly, all definitions are correct, some may be more complete or accurate than others, but I guess all of them have points in common and they help to understand the concept. If you have been following our blog regularly, I am sure, by now, all of you have a clear idea & understanding about our definition/interpretation of the employee engagement issue.
So, what if we forget about definitions and concentrate on the main objective of employee engagement?
If you have to pick a single objective, what would it be?
I am completely convinced that the answers to this question would be much more similar than the definition of the concept of “employee engagement”.
Recently, Glasswork announced its list of the 50 best places to work in 2017. Based on employee feedback, the ranking includes companies with more than 1.000 employees across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. As we read the list, one question comes to our mind. Are there some characteristics shared by all those places?
From a general perspective, we all can agree that the mission of employee engagement is to build the best possible workplace. This seems very simple, but what does it mean? Which elements should work together to build a great workplace? Well, that is the aim of this article, in which I will try to identify those key elements and behaviors that help to create a strongly engaged team, that works together to achieve goals in a happy atmosphere.
Respect and freedom
Where do we start? One of the most important things is to make employees feel important and valued inside the company. If you accomplish this, the game is half won. A good place to start is by explaining employees the mission, vision, values and goals of the company, and especially how would they fit into it. By doing so, managers show their team members, that they are fully conscious of their potential, and that they have a game plan in which employees play an active and strategic role inside the team. It would make them feel like they matter from the very beginning, generating instant motivation. It is also important that the company provides training courses and/or learning programs for employees to show they really care about their professional growth.
Respect and freedom go together as essential in any company that wants to become a great workplace. We are referring to employees sharing their thoughts, ideas and suggestions with absolute freedom. Respect is implicit in this. Engaged employees don’t only want to perform the tasks they are assigned, but also want to participate in the decision making processes of the company. Restricting decision making to the senior or managerial staff is a way of reducing the possibilities of finding good ideas, because they can come from any member of the team. A good company to work must empower employees to be proactive making contributions and decisions.
Freedom also implies information and communication, which should be multidirectional and transversal, working without departmental restrictions, so that all the members of the team are considered to be at the same level. Communication in such environments are enriched due to collaborations with partners from other divisions and/or with other backgrounds.
In line with this, the concept of ‘team’ is crucial in creating a healthy working environment. Companies should build a culture in which managers and employees have the sense of belonging to a team. Everyone must realize that they are part of a team and they are not just a bunch of individuals. When team members operate individually without connections, each one goes in a different direction and no progress is made. People work better when they help each other, in a collaborative environment and then everybody is involved in making the team grow stronger, playing together, rowing in the same direction. It doesn’t matter who gets credit because all the goals are achieved together as a team.
‘Team’ is a term that we can relate to work, but this is not only about working all the time, so we need another concept to illustrate that other side of the workplace. ‘Camaraderie’ fits very well into it. It is highly improbable to love your work if you don’t have fun at the workplace. Camaraderie is about having fun at work and form friendships with your co-workers, something that happens in an environment, that fosters the conditions for people to be themselves, feel free and share anecdotes, jokes and laughs. Employees should feel at home. This is essential to break the daily routine and have a chance to relax from the stress of the often exhausting workload, as well as to strengthen bonds within the team.
Last, but definitely not least, we have a fundamental pillar in workplace environment, recognition. In companies with poor working culture, it is common that employees don’t receive any kind of feedback on their work until they make a mistake. On the other hand, great companies make sure that their employees are recognized for their work.
Employee recognition is a question of pure empathy. Taking into account that your employees are the ones in charge of the success of your business, it is a matter of how important it is in your scale of values. The more you care about your employees, the more you care about your success. Managers must raise awareness of the importance of recognizing the work of their employees. With little effort and no cost, they can achieve big wins if they keep team members motivated and engaged with just a few sincere words of encouragement. After all, maybe the only thing that we seek is to be recognized for what we do. As simple as that.
These are the fundamentals of a good workplace.
Of course, there are many other important aspects to consider, but we tried to keep it as simple as possible just so that we begin with a solid background.
It is certainly not easy to turn a poor or non-existent organizational culture that makes employees want to leave, into a great culture in which people would desire to take part, overnight. It requires time, hard work, dedication and the will to change the core values of the company and instill them in the workforce, but let there be no doubt..
It’s worth the effort! Totally.