There is no magical ingredient, but there is a simple recipe. When an organization understands employee needs and considers them to be just as important as a consumer or corporate needs, awesome places to work can be created.
Based on experience, there are four important components that help bring this recipe together:
Know your Employee Value Proposition (EVP):
As consumers, we’ve all had different experiences which have informed our perceptions and behaviors. We make choices based on a tremendous amount of variables. Some of those variables are more obvious such as cost and quality, others are far more discreet and at times sub-conscious choices. Organizations spend millions every year to research our buying habits, in order to develop and position their products. As colleagues, we are no different. Our reasons for working; how we choose the organization we work for; and how we rate our experience at work will all vary and are subject to change.
Similar to the positioning of a product, organizations need to work hard to research and develop their employee value proposition (EVP). An EVP must be more than a narrative, it must be the foundation of the relationship between the colleague and the organization. It must be end-to-end through the colleague lifecycle (from joining to leaving). Whilst there are plenty of different models that each propose the best way to develop an EVP, they all hinge on listening and including colleagues. How an EVP is bought to life and is actually experienced by colleagues will determine which organizations are awesome places to work.
Colleague led ideas:
Creating an awesome place to work may need to be the starting point for many organizations before they can expect colleagues to deliver discretionary effort, and innovative to improve customer experience. Too many organizations assume that the people will be there to help them deliver whatever the strategy might require. As the world of work is changing, the reality is very different and is already causing organizations to re-set their plans. Gone are the days where a consumer-facing business plan would be created in isolation of an internally focused HR of People plan. There is a new level of interdependency.
Attracting and retaining a talented workforce is a major task in our competitive global market. New approaches need to be explored. Following a number of trailblazers in Silicon Valley, there appears to a forever growing wave of new initiatives and working practices to support changing demographics and colleague needs. Some of the best innovation has come from the ground up. Every colleague has ideas about ways their organizations' products and internal processes could be improved. However, the reality is that most of these ideas never even get out of the starting gate; and those that do often get slowed down in formal procedures. Organizations need to find ways to involve colleagues in the fullest sense. Give them the opportunity to develop ideas, and everyone will take ownership in creating an awesome place to work together.
Importance of First Line Management:
In my experience, it’s the quality of colleague relationships with first line managers that stands out amongst the many drivers of engagement. People managers have the ability to either champion or unwind the organization EVP. It is through them that: perceptions of the ethos and values of the organization are formed; internal communication is shared; career advancement is considered, and work is defined and/or perceived as important. People Managers are important, and organizations need to be realistic of what is expected of them. Hiring, inspiring, developing; supporting and rewarding – that’s a hefty list with or without additional operational tasks.
Every organization EVP is different. Communications set the tone and the way in which the messages are delivered and reflect the EVP. Often organizations forget the human connection that needs to happen regularly for colleagues to truly remain engaged. Every colleague wants to know and feel that they matter. Communication is the cornerstone of an engaged workforce. Colleagues should be given lots of different routes to make their voices heard so that they can find a communication option that works best for them. When given a voice, engaged colleagues will become the greatest advertisement that an organization could hope for.
An awesome place to work is not simply the best paymaster or the most beautiful office building. It is somewhere that is connected. It’s a place where every colleague is encouraged and motivated to create and collectively contribute to success. The balance is right.