Achievement, Performance and Wellbeing – Ignore at Your Own Peril
Leaders are responsible for creating a workplace that brings out the best in people, creating a culture that is healthy, happy and thriving
MEN WANTED for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.
– Sir Ernest Shackleton, 1915
Shackleton's famous Want Ad – whether real or exaggerated – for an exploratory voyage has a thing or two to teach us about recruiting, retaining and optimizing the employee experience, even in the worst conditions.
This advertisement doesn’t promise one thing and deliver another.
Today's job descriptions and recruitment copy, on the other hand, offer a potential employee an expansive overview of their hopeful position. Everything the employee might encounter, observe or feel over the course of their employment is often outlined from the recruitment process through the employee’s departure.
The employer hires the most talented people who can align with the organization's mission and who can help solve problems. That talented employee, however, experiences how a company prioritizes its people and then delivers the goods accordingly.
The wise employer knows ensuring a premium employee experience gives the business a competitive advantage while creating a culture and connection with customers. The path to this accomplished mission is in the Stephen Covey strategy:
Start from the start
Begin with your brand. How are you perceived before the perfect candidate even comes in for the interview? Help the candidate understand your vision, mission, core values and how they translate to that candidate's ability to thrive within the organization. Understand that every interaction reflects the company: Be prompt, personal and welcoming. Taking too long in the hiring process or appearing too bureaucratic sends candidates away in the present low-unemployment market.
Evaluate and look introspectively at the company's physical environment.
Look at the floor plan, the perks and benefits like stand-up desks, healthy food, flexibility and autonomous schedules. Even more importantly, what is the vibe when you walk in the door? The mood and tone in the workplace determines how people feel. Corporate culture either energizes or drains. Look at what motivates and inspires employees, or absolutely discourages and suffocates people. For example, you can have a healthy climate and a toxic culture.
Culture is really the elusive factor; in other words, the secret sauce. The recipe is never written, but passed along from employee to employee.
With a strong culture and climate in place, you enable employees to succeed with the right tools and technologies at the right time. Ask yourself: How accessible are these tools? Focus on making processes easy and help employees get their job done with minimal frustration.
Check in on your company's Glassdoor and LinkedIn reviews. These networks provide current and former employees an outlet to do a performance evaluation on their employer and it is not always pretty. Take these reviews seriously and address the concerns. Take the appropriate action to improve the employee experience. You may discover something you didn’t know and can easily address.
People want to grow and learn, so invest accordingly. Promote from within, develop skills from within and cross-train teams so qualified applicants can move up in the company. Support non-work-related learning as well, which will help with creativity, while bringing innovation and energy to the workplace.
Today's working world moves quickly and so do employees who aren’t fulfilled. According to Gallup, 67 percent of employees are not engaged, and 51 percent are looking for a new job right now. Issue a cultural needs and interest audit, or even better, talk to employees and start a connected conversation about what is working and what isn’t. Be open to suggestions for change. Think long-term and don’t confuse engagement with experience. Employee engagement endeavors focus on the perks and quick fixes that grab employee attention, but the employee experience puts the employee at the center and enriches everyone's work lives.
People today cannot be forced to fit in an outdated workplace. As leaders, it is our responsibility to redesign a workplace that brings out the best in people, creating a culture that is healthy, happy and thriving.
Colleen Reilly has designed and implemented wellness programs with Fortune 500 companies, including Mayo Clinic, Coors Brewing Company, Boeing, Chipotle, Keurig Green Mountain, Walt Disney Company, Exxon Mobile and Astra Zeneca. She has extensive, hands-on experience in all corporate health and wellbeing arenas, including employee health, productivity, engagement, efficiency and energy management. She is a keynote speaker for numerous wellbeing industry events, and has written for World Congress and Harvard Business Review, among other publications.