Updated: Jul 24, 2020
Most of us work at least 8 hours a day. That’s a third of our waking hours! Considering we spend so much time at work, shouldn’t the workplace feel like home? A place where we feel comfortable and safe, physically and emotionally.
The workplace could feel like home when we feel engaged with what we do and with the people we work with. However, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the Global Workplace report, 85% of employees are disengaged or not actively engaged at work. This has negative impact on productivity and business outcomes.
What can business leaders and organisations do to make the workplace feel like home? 4 areas that business leaders can control and influence are:
Showing people what they do creates value in the team or organisation.
Understanding people’s strengths and how that can contribute to team success.
Communicating clearly and constructively with a focus on moving forward.
Recognising people’s contributions big or small on a regular basis.
1. Showing people what they do creates value in the team or organisation
It is people who do the work and help business leaders achieve performance metrics. Your team can either do as they are asked or possibly more. If they are presented with the bigger picture that they are connected with or can find meaning in, this motivates them to work to the best of their abilities.
At times, knowing how each person creates value is obvious. Other times, a business leader may need to make it clear how each team member is or can contribute to the bigger purpose. Leaders should make the effort to ensure that their team members understand and experience this, as this has an impact of business outcomes. In the same Gallup study, organisations in the top quartile of engagement realise 10% higher customer metrics, 17% higher productivity, 20% higher sales and 21% higher profitability -- all by tapping into their individuals’ sense of purpose.
2. Understanding people’s strengths and how that can contribute to team success
Ron Kral, author of ‘Strategies That Work: Techniques For Solutions In Schools’, said that “if we ask people to look for deficits, they will usually find them, and their view of the situation will be coloured by this. If we ask people to look for successes, they will usually find it, and their view of the situation will be coloured by this.”
Dr. Wayne Hammond, an adjunct professor with the School of Medicine at the University of Calgary wrote a paper titled ‘A Strength-Based Perspective’. Below, diagrams from the paper illustrate the differences between having a deficit approach versus a strength-based approach:
However, this is not as simple as playing to an individual’s strengths. This approach has to tie in with an individual’s sense of purpose and how their strengths can contribute to something bigger than themselves. When team members feel that they are a part of something big and meaningful, they are more likely to be engaged and to engage.
3. Communicating clearly and constructively with a focus on moving forward
Feeling safe at work means being able to communicate in a constructive manner without judgment or fear. At work however, this may often not be the case. Leaders may look at an individual’s achievements and strengths in a vacuum and hope that the individual will be able to mesh with the rest of the team members. The individual on the other hand, may not voice out his or her concerns for a variety of reasons. The result? Confusion.
Leaders are in the position to facilitate a safe environment for their team members. Once this has been fostered, team members will more likely feel empowered and in turn, be more productive. This is according to a case study by Professor Charles-Henri Besseyre des Horts of HEC.
4. Recognising people’s contributions big or small on a regular basis
Giving recognition to an individual’s work increases job satisfaction. Job satisfaction is the most important factor in increasing productivity at work, according a study titled “Passion for Work, Job Satisfaction, and the Mediating Role of Belongingness”. It is defined as “a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from an appraisal of one’s job or job experiences”.
Much like how a family exchanges words of affirmation to each other, recognition is the equivalent at work. Leaders should be able to skilfully use it and that means being specific, concrete and immediate. In practice, it is letting the individual know what they’ve done right, showing genuine appreciation for what they’ve done and also being authentic.
However, leaders should also be careful in giving too much positive reinforcement, as it’ll come to be expected. The amount should be moderate and be given at random.
As the title says, we spend 40% of our waking time at work. Let's make those 8 hours enjoyable and meaningful.