How to Enjoy Better Employee Behavior and Productivity
For those of you responsible for workplace environments in today’s knowledge-based industries, it is important to understand the factors that influence productivity. You need to also understand how these can be applied when designing and delivering an effective workplace experience.
Research undertaken by AWA Research (an Australian market research firm) found that there were six key factors that influence behaviour and productivity.
As you read further through these key areas, think about the various workplaces where you have worked and reflect back on whether they were friendly, welcoming and productive environments.
Or perhaps, did the elements described below play a part in how you felt about being there because they did not exist?
This level to which team members and groups within an organization feel connected to each other is strongly linked to performance. Robert D. Putnam wrote a ground-breaking book, Bowling Alone (Simon & Schuster, 2000) which detailed the importance of Social Capital. Social Capital describes the presence of trust, shared values, mutual understandings and behaviours that make up communities, both in where we live and where we work. The basic tenant is simple: the better we know each other, the greater the chance we will work well together. Organizations should consider how the workplace fuels social interaction, for example by providing networking and casual meeting areas.
Perceived Supervisory Support
Research shows that an employee’s perception of management has a clear impact on everything from their performance and organizational commitment to job satisfaction and loyalty. The physical workplace configuration can play an important role in defining this relationship, for example, whether leaders work directly alongside team members or in separate offices. This was extremely relevant to me as there were times in my policing career when due to the police station’s layout, the senior officers could come and go and not ever be seen by the rank and file staff. Sometimes, we would seemingly go for weeks without ever seeing our leaders. That was certainly something that I worked hard to do the opposite of when I found myself in a leadership role.
Vision and Goal Clarity
A key factor affecting performance is whether employees understand how their day-to-day activities fit into the wider strategic vision and goals. The workplace should provide ample opportunity for strategic goals to be communicated throughout the organization, for example, by creating physical communication boards in each team area – which also helps others to know what they do. What does the brand of the company represent and is that message promoted within the physical layout of the workplace? I recently joined a local gym. It’s very clear when you walk into the place that the organizational values of transparency, energy, accountability and member focused are demonstrated in the environment, the layout, and how the staff show up and behave. What about your workplace?
Studies show that improving the flow of information around a team or organization directly improves performance. Creating a workplace that encourages and enables employees to share information (for example by providing varied, transparent and open communications channels), can lead to improved operational performance. Do people know what’s going on? How are they supposed to find out if you don’t share information with them? Remember, that we humans tend to fill in the gaps of things that we don’t know about by making up stories that work for us. This leads to misinformation, rumours and gossiping. Share information instead. Believe me, it will be a lot healthier for everyone!
Organizations where employees are encouraged to foster relationships outside of their team and even their organization often perform to a higher level. Working environments that offer opportunities for that communication to occur can boost performance as well as engagement levels. Are your employees bragging to those outside your organization about where they work? What about you? When someone asks you what you do and where you work, do you proudly answer the question and share why your organization is an employer-of-choice where we would all want to work? Or do you cough into your hand and avoid eye contact? Both speak volumes!
We know that the trust employees have in their peers and management is the foundation of a great workplace. If no trust exists, they leave. And you would too. You can actually reflect an atmosphere of openness and transparency within the workplace by installing glass-walled meeting rooms and boundary-less team working areas. All of these play a role in demonstrating trust, as will a commitment to deliver what you promise in terms of a workplace experience. That was probably what you sold the person on when they arrived at your workplace for that first job interview. However, now that they’re working with you, is it what their actual experience is? If you don’t know the answer to that question…it’s definitely time to find out!