Create a Love-to-Work Culture

Here are three strategies for making your organization a place where people want to come to work

Create a Love-to-Work Culture

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It used to be that prospective employees had to convince companies why they should be hired. But in today’s job market, with low unemployment creating a shrinking labor pool, the tables have been turned: Organizations now have to convince job candidates why they’re a great place to work.

A key question emerges as organizations arm wrestle for quality employees: Do people come to work at your company because they have to, or because they want to?

The difference is huge, and not only in terms of attracting great candidates. Studies also show a clear correlation between high levels of employee engagement and superior financial performance, including higher stock prices.

How do organizations help ensure their employees want to come to work, not have to, and thus attract the best candidates to their ranks? In a nutshell, companies must create workplaces that encourage collaboration, foster a culture where they feel valued, and utilize technology that’s familiar and user-friendly, says Jacob Morgan, author, speaker, and futurist.

“Employees these days have new and higher expectations,” says Morgan, the author of The Employee Experience Advantage and The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization. “They care about things other than just money. They want to contribute to an organization and feel a sense of purpose.

“They also focus more on health and well-being. They’re blurring the lines between work life and personal life. Plus, there’s a fierce war for talent amid a skills shortage. All these factors and more are forcing companies to figure out how to bring in the best and the brightest people.”

Attracting these high-value employees is more difficult now because there’s so much more transparency to the job-hunting process, thanks to company-review websites such as www.glassdoor.com and social media platforms. 

“We used to take jobs based on the stories we were told,” Morgan says. “Now organizations can’t tell stories anymore.”

Spaces that engage

One of the three levers that employers can most easily pull in order to develop a want-to-come-to-work environment centers on physical workplaces that encourage collaboration. 

“This one is the easiest one to see,” Morgan says. “Employers need to create spaces that support collaboration. Create collaborative areas such as conference rooms — places where people can write on the walls, solve problems and have healthy debates and discussions. You need to give employees as many choices as possible as to how they get work done.”

Workplaces with visibly collaborative spaces give off a positive vibe not only to employees, but prospective job candidates, too.

“It’s like when you walk into someone’s house for the first time — you get a distinct vibe about that person,” Morgan says.

Moreover, a study performed by Steelcase, an office-furniture systems manufacturer, showed that the more options employees have about where they can work, including private spaces and collaborative areas as needed, the more engaged they feel.

If budgets are a concern (as they usually are), Morgan isn’t saying that companies must take a sledgehammer to existing walls and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on workplace makeovers.

“None of these things need to cost a lot of money,” he says. “The simplest thing is to find out what employees care about and value and go from there. It doesn’t have to be a crazy, over-the-top kind of thing.”

Managers who care

Another lever organizations can pull revolves around making people feel valued. That, in turn, is strongly linked to developing a roster of managers with high levels of emotional intelligence.

“Organizations need to put people who care in positions of power,” Morgan says. “We need more managers who genuinely care about employees — managers that believe every day that their job is to make people more successful.” 

A key motivator that many managers miss out on is telling stories that connect the work employees do with the impact they have on customers and communities. When employees see that the work they do is part of a larger context — has a higher purpose with many ripple-effects on customers — they tend to take more pride in what they do and feel more engaged, Morgan says.

“Companies can use any number of mediums, such as videos, (newsletter) articles, posters, social media and intranets to tell these stories,” he says. “You just can’t go wrong telling a story.”

Technological ease

The third lever to pull focuses on technology. In summary, technology should be, in a word, easy. Using software or computers at work should be just as easy as using the technology that employees enjoy using at home. If it isn’t, frustration and reduced engagement tend to follow, Morgan says.

“Sharing something with a co-worker, for instance, should be just as easy as using Google Drive or email,” he says. “Employees should be able to view educational videos at work with the same ease with which they consume media online from Netflix. If all you’re offering employees is clunky and cumbersome interfaces, it’s just not a pleasant experience.”

Of course, it’s always a good idea to survey a workforce to find out what’s important to them in terms of workspaces, managers and technology. Those surveys can help organizations mine for valuable data that will help avoid wasting money on engagement efforts that no one wanted in the first place. 

Morgan says, “You can’t make decisions until you know things, and you don’t know things unless you get feedback from employees.”



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