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6 Ways to Help Employees Feel Valued

Nurturing employees’ sense of value is important for running a successful business, especially in 2021. With the ongoing shift to remote work, professional responsibilities are just a click away. The proliferation of job networking platforms is introducing professionals to dozens of new opportunities on a daily basis. Because of this, your employees are likely assessing how they feel about their current roles and keeping an eye open for greener pastures.

As a result, it is critical to ensure that employees feel valued in order to guarantee their commitment to your company. An American Psychological Association study found that 93 percent of professionals were more likely to perform their very best if they felt valued by their employer, versus a mere 33 percent who were motivated to do their best for their own intrinsic reasons. The same study also found that employees who felt valued were also much more likely to recommend their company to a friend and were far less likely to seek new employment opportunities.

Clearly, nurturing your employees’ sense of value should be a top priority for your company. If you are looking for ways to set this initiative in motion within your organization, consider the following six ideas for how to make employees feel valued.

Create Innovative Compensation Packages

There is no denying that salary and wages are correlated to employee value. Simply put, if you pay an employee more, he or she will feel better about their job. This explains why, after a challenging year in 2020 due to the pandemic, most U.S. companies are doing everything in their power to reinstate bonuses and implement raises. Studies show the average salary likely will increase by 2.8 percent in 2021.

However, the modern professional is motivated by far more than money. The traditional nine-to-five office environment is quickly fading, and so are the traditional ways in which professionals live, love, relax, and consume. This creates the opportunity for companies to create unique benefits packages that will appeal to a contemporary workforce. While staples such as health insurance and retirement contributions are still important, Perkbox found that 66 percent of modern employees view customized benefits as a personal investment that would increase their loyalty to the company. Some innovative benefits ideas that are sure to help employees feel recognized and valued include:

  • Flexible schedules and leave policies
  • Paid childcare
  • Gym memberships, counseling sessions, and other perks to help improve employee well-being
  • Subscriptions to popular online services and entertainment platforms

Modernize the Workspace

By investing in top-notch facilities, you are telling employees that they are worthy of working in the best environment possible. Forbes magazine reports that 87 percent of professionals would like their employers to offer healthier workplace benefits. Some effective ways to do this include offering on-site workout and meditation spaces. You can also provide open and inviting work areas that optimize the benefits of natural sunlight. Living walls that incorporate elements of nature and sustainability into the work environment are good as well.

Keep Remote Workers Engaged

While there are many benefits to remote work, there’s one drawback. Remote workers have a tendency to feel isolated from their peers. Studies show that some 20 percent of employees feel isolated when working from home, which can cause them to experience marginal feelings of value about their role within the company.

Therefore, it is critical to find ways to keep your remote workers engaged. Frequently build company- or department-wide video calls into the work schedule. This reminds remote professionals that they are an important part of the team. Make use of the power of social media, as millennials are increasingly motivated by social media recognition. Studies reveal that 82 percent of modern professionals feel that social media has the ability to improve their work relationships, making it simple to strengthen commitment to the company through a quick post, like, or comment.

Provide a Foundation for Growth

Professionals will question their value to the company if they feel trapped in a dead-end job. Yet, 68 percent of employees feel like their company doesn’t care about their career advancement. Therefore, provide the framework for employees to learn new skills and communicate how these skills are valuable to the industry. Discuss roles within the organization that you could see them attaining in the future. Encourage them to attend networking events where they can establish meaningful connections to advance their careers.

Challenge Employees

It may seem like people shy away from work that is too hard, but employees are actually happier in roles that they perceive as challenging. Some creative ways to challenge employees include:

  • Implement job rotations, where employees are working on new projects with regularity.
  • Include employees when creating job descriptions, and make them feel like a part of the hiring process for similar or subordinate jobs.
  • Offer incentives for professionals who are able to attain specific goals.

Don’t Shy Away From Critical Feedback

Although it is intuitive to think that critical feedback may be perceived negatively by employees, Harvard Business Review actually found that 57 percent of professionals preferred corrective feedback over praise. Employees want to see that you care about their improvement and advancement within a role. Taking the time to offer constructive feedback on their performance demonstrates that you view them as valuable assets.

The Best Ways to Help Employees Feel Valued

Employees are more likely to give their best efforts and less likely to defect when they feel valued by their employer. Both are relevant factors to a company’s bottom line. By intentionally implementing the six aforementioned ideas, you can take significant steps toward helping your employees feel valued.

Photo: Obi Onyeador

Love Starts with Leadership

Around here we celebrate Valentine’s Day sentiments all the time. We tell each other how much we appreciate, cherish, are wowed by, awed by, impressed by, and value each other. It’s not in our culture deck (we don’t have one since we’re always flexing and morphing to grow and change with the world of work). It’s not in the rulebook and it’s not even in any of the job descriptions. It’s just in the ethos of TalentCulture. 

I’m showing you a glimpse of how we work to make a point: all that love? It’s up to me. Daily, I’m aware of a deep sense of responsibility: I founded this company, and it’s up to me to make sure we’re all feeling good about it and great about each other. It has to be that way: the people come first. And if we’re going to love each other it has to start with the leader. So, my lovelies, here’s the closest thing to a box of chocolates I can give you all: 4 tips on how to bring more love into the workspace, whatever shape that space takes:

Be emoji-ional

Consider your favorite brands, and then, if you would, reflect on a conversation you may have had via chat, or a text, or on a social media platform. I love that brand. I heart that brand. Or you may have dropped literal heart emojis on someone’s text recently to express your absolute affirmation for their observation or idea. 

Social media has made it stunningly easier to express our feelings in a lighter, more informal way — which is far more appropriate for the workplace than any written declarations, let’s face it. The more we blend social into our workspaces, the easier it is to spread that love around. 

Get inspired.

Going back through the amazing posts we’ve published on TalentCulture.com, I realized we’ve always been interested in love. So, dear readers, here’s some reading material. Love and its impact on the office has plenty of angles, including a new post by guest contributor Rebecca Shaw on a recent UK office romance study. The research uncovered a disquieting gap between how women and men perceive work entanglements — and puts the onus on HR to help equitably and safely untie the knots. 

A post on why engagement comes from the heart bears a re-visit, bringing up the value of emotional currency. Kevin Grossman, a longtime member of the TalentCulture family, wrote about the dance between love and money — and managed to bring prog-rock band Rush, AC/DC, Apple and Southwest Airlines under one “culture rocks” umbrella.  We tend to feel very emotional about our work — from colleagues to culture — and it helps to remember that this isn’t new, we’re just getting better, and smarter at dealing with it. 

Take a love inventory.

We do a lot of work with amazing HR tech innovators — and lately we’re covering a lot of ground on the subject of engagement and experience for both candidates and employees. A strategy that comes up again and again is actually asking your employees how they feel. Now that we have access to highly effective tools that can scale to needs and growth — such as surveys, check-ins, feedback and recognition platforms — there’s no excuse for ignoring your workforce’s emotional state of mind. Inaugurate a new campaign to find out how your people are doing, and that should include anyone on the workforce, from freelancers and independent workers to payroll employees to executives. We tend to overlook our own needs as much as anyone else’s, and leadership behavior models the behaviors that the workforce is going to adopt. 

Conduct surveys of employee/workforce sentiment  — short and sweet and frequent is better than long, arduous, and one-time. Include yourself and other leaders and high-level managers as well as the whole workforce. Use the data to reveal the realities of your work culture and workspaces, share it with the workforce, and then start taking action to remedy the weak spots. Transparency and action taken on feedback are definitely part of modern leadership’s love language. 

Practice emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence isn’t a new concept: it’s become a twenty-first century chestnut at this point. It has to do with how skillfully we manage our relationships and ourselves, and it’s been proven to correlate with our ability to perform. But I’m frequently struck but how far away from EQ we’ve gotten. Like many concepts that make a splash and send ripples through the HR field, EQ’s novelty has receded. A great piece in Inc. by Wanda Thibodeax introduces its close “cousins,” cognitive intelligence, success intelligences, and cultural intelligence (CQ). 

But EQ is just as important as ever. When we talk about using tact to deliver un-great news to job applicants, that’s EQ: and it’s akin to letting a suitor down easy because, well, they’re human. When I wrote about the power of some leaders to reach their people, one of the key factors is emotional intelligence — though these days, I’d gather other traits, such as kindness, honesty, respect, letting go and partnering as all part of being emotionally intelligent. Evolution is consolidation in this case, and we’ve come far since that piece first appeared, though with over 700,000 views by now, it’s clearly still hitting a sweet spot. To be perfectly honest, that makes me happy.

The bottom line — to feel love you have to bring the love yourself. It that means you spend a bit more time practicing some much-needed self-care, then do it. Get that box of chocolates, do the yoga class, plan the marathon training, go on vacation, take time to do something good for the planet, or volunteer. Whatever works. It’s your job to make everyone else feel good about themselves and the value they bring to your organization — and that means you need to feel good about yourself and your value as well. Go get yourself a Valentine-y card, then get everyone cards too, and watch the love start to catch on. 

Telecommuting: 5 Ways Companies Benefit

Last year, when Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer banned telecommuting for her employees, the decision stirred a vigorous debate about whether it’s valid for any business to let employees work from home.

As I see it, any organization can boost the personal and professional productivity of its workforce through telecommuting. And the more widely it is embraced, the better for the company.

Therefore, it’s a smart move to integrate technologies that make the work-from-home process smoother and more seamless.

Telecommuting Success: It’s More Than Technology

However, simply putting new technology into place and allowing your workforce to telecommute won’t make your business productive. Successful virtual work initiatives still require effective management. Leaders need to engage team members (as if they were physically at the office) and make sure they are kept in the loop, so they remain psychologically and socially connected, even when they don’t share a physical office space.

5 Key Business Benefits

But that said, when virtual work options are implemented appropriately, the advantages are abundant. For example, here are five major ways companies can benefit:

1) Morale: Happier employees get more done. In many cities, employees deal with a grinding commute, only to sit in an office where they interact very little with their coworkers. Whether the telecommuting arrangement is permanent or just a weekly flex day, the reduced travel and stress can provide a tremendous boost in employee morale.

2) Talent Acquisition: This can be a significant advantage in both large and small markets, because the best talent isn’t always within driving distance. This is certainly affected by the scope of the position, but businesses that don’t require day-to-day physical access to a shared office can benefit by finding the best candidates, regardless of physical location. Telecommuting lets companies choose from a much larger talent pool when it’s time to recruit for open positions.

3) Productivity: If you have ever worked remotely you probably know that you can accomplish much more when the conditions are right. At many offices, constant distractions mean less work gets done than the company desires. While face-to-face camaraderie may help employees build relationships, beyond small talk, there isn’t much that can be accomplished sitting in a meeting room that can’t be accomplished from a distance, using collaboration tools.

4) Flexibility: Trying to bring teams together in the same space and time isn’t necessarily easier because everyone travels to a central office. The technology that companies adopt to enable telecommuting allows teams to collaborate in real time from anywhere members are located. Participants can access teleconferencing, web conferencing and telepresence from almost anywhere. So when people can’t be in the same physical place, the meeting will still go on.

5) Adoption: I have said this for as long as I can remember: ”Eat your own dog food!” Any business that considers itself a high-tech organization should adopt tools, structures and processes required for successful telecommuting. What’s more, these capabilities should be  promoted as a way the workforce can achieve maximum productivity and work-life balance. Using this technology day in and day out can truly bring the organization closer. And the value of that connection can be priceless, as it translates to better selling, delivery and support of the solutions your customers need.

What other ways can organizations benefit from telecommuting? Does your company allow telecommuting? If not, why? Share your opinions and ideas in the comments below.

(Editor’s Note: This post was adapted with permission from an article written for and published in Commercial Integrator Magazine and republished by Millennial CEO.)

(Also Note: To discuss World of Work topics like this with the TalentCulture community, join our online #TChat Events each Wednesday, from 6:30-8pm ET. Everyone is welcome at events, or join our ongoing Twitter conversation anytime. Learn more…)

Image Credit: Stock.xchng

Want Engaged Employees? Tell Them Why

(Editor’s Note: Want to learn more from Meghan about employee engagement strategies? Join a special #TChat webinar on November 7th, with Virgin Pulse president David Coppins. Register now …)

Late last year, I had an eye-opening experience while visiting a high-tech industry client.

Their office space is very cool. At first glance, it’s exactly what we expect from organizations with edgy, innovative brand personalities. But on second thought, something seemed to be missing.

The design is full-on open concept — rows of modular worktables, very low partitions, no private offices. As I looked across this vast bullpen, I couldn’t help wondering how people find a useful corner for a private one-on-one conversation, a quick team huddle, or an escape from distractions when it’s time to concentrate and actually get things done. This just doesn’t feel like a fully functioning workplace, where people can be productive throughout the day.

What’s Wrong With This Engagement Picture?

Of course, there’s a large, sunny cafeteria and a designated gaming area, complete with foosball table. That clearly helps seal the deal with new recruits, right? Well, perhaps I’m a bit jaded, but something about this hip, techie environment seems more like the year 2000 to me, when business managers decided that in-house cafes and communal work areas were the recipe for a happy, high-performance workforce.

Even now, part of me remains unconvinced. Why?

As a talent strategist, I work with many organizations whose primary staffing requirements focus on “thinking” jobs in the software development realm. Top performers in these positions typically want and need time, space, peace and quiet to perform well.

Sure, they collaborate with team members. And they love games and free coffee, soda and popcorn — who doesn’t? But these perks aren’t some sort of “secret sauce” that produces employee engagement. Employers may hope that games, food and wide open spaces guarantee happy, productive employees, but that’s not how it works.

Engagement is forged with different tools — trust, loyalty, open communication, clearly-articulated goals and expectations, shared values and well-understood reward systems. It really isn’t about how the office is designed, or how many toys you offer as distractions. It’s about treating employees as humans who are worthy of respect.

When companies like the one I visited tell me that their workplace culture and trendy furniture build employee engagement, I try to help them see that they’re focusing on the wrong part of the equation. They’re focusing on what, not why. The “what” can reveal a lot about a company, but it’s the “why” that tells you it’s a good company to work with.

5 Employee Questions Every Company Should Answer

What factors contribute to the “why” of employee engagement? Here are the top 5 questions I ask business and HR leaders to answer. They’re intentionally written from an employee’s point-of-view. If you answer honestly, your organization’s engagement strengths and weaknesses should become more clear:

1) “Why am I here?” How can you expect an employee to “get it” if you don’t communicate a shared sense of mission, vision and goals? Tell people why you want them to work at your company, and why you think they’ll succeed. Then you can focus on how they can achieve those goals.

2) “Why should I trust your leadership?” Open communication builds trust, which is essential to engagement. Respect is essential to mutual trust, which also contributes to engagement. Clear, open communication matters. But follow-up matters, too. Do you lead by example? Are your words consistent with your actions? The stronger the alignment, the stronger the trust.

3) “Why should I be loyal to your company?” Engaged employees know why they’re loyal – they are treated with respect. Companies that focus first on procedural activities, such as time tracking, will never see strong workforce productivity or engagement. Demonstrate your commitment and trust in employees, and they’ll respond in kind.

4) “Why don’t you communicate your company values?” Fail to show employees why core values matter, and you might as well forget about engagement. Even worse, if you talk about values and then behave in a vastly different way, you’ll telegraph just how little management actually embraces those values. Explain why a value system is important to you, and the what — the actual list of values — will follow.

5) “Why aren’t you clear about the rewards of working here?” Even in this enlightened era, surprisingly few companies are open about their approach to compensation. Yet, employees want to know what to expect in return for their contributions. You have nothing to lose by being clear and open about your reward system — including everything from pay and benefits, to vacation and bonuses, to development opportunities and career paths. Explain the why and what of your reward structure, and people will sign-on. But of course, the proof is in the pudding. It’s essential to be clear, consistent and unambiguous in creating and sharing rewards, or engagement will go out the window.

Winning Hearts And Minds: Put “Why” Before “What”

Innovative workspaces certainly have a place in the engagement mix. But that’s not the whole package. If your employees can’t answer the five questions above, all the cool workplace culture in the universe will not make a difference. First focus on the “whys” of working for your company, and you’ll win hearts and minds — regardless of what desk, chair or computer equipment you offer.

What are your thoughts about the “whys” of employee engagement? Let me know. I’m listening…

(Editor’s Note: This is adapted from a post at Forbes.com, with permission.)

Image Credit: Katie Sayer at Flick.com

Workspace Design: Form, Function and Positive Feedback

“First we shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us.”
Sir Winston Churchill

What a wise observation. I love the idea that we have a hand in creating a world that eventually influences us.

When I first heard this quote during last week’s “World of Workspaces” #TChat Radio show, I was fascinated. Workplace design expert, Chris Congdon of Steelcase, shared the concept as she talked about developing work environments that support organizational goals.

Among other things, Chris explained how physical workspace influences the way we feel and act. For example, if a company wants to foster collaboration, creativity and innovation, merely filling an office with tall cubicles and fluorescent lighting just isn’t going to cut it.

Great Workplaces: Beyond Tangibles

Her primary message was this:  The best places to work are designed from the inside-out. It’s not enough to consider only the tasks that must be accomplished in a space. Nor is it enough to focus on ergonomics that make those workflows more comfortable or efficient. Before we can build business spaces that optimize performance and engagement, we must understand human motivation and behavior in workplace settings.

Actually, on a larger scale, isn’t that how leaders approach corporate culture? Our mission is to create not just physical space, but complete ecosystems that bring out the best in every contributor. And in turn, that ecosystem rewards us in ways that reflect and reinforce our brand vision and values. It’s a continuous loop.

“First we shape our culture; thereafter, our culture shapes us…”

So, just as color schemes, work surfaces and lighting must be carefully considered when developing any physical workspace, we must be equally deliberate in developing organizational culture, piece by piece.

Snapshot Assessment

That conclusion triggered a reality check for me. I quickly took a mental inventory of the physical environment and the organizational “vibe” at Achievers. Here are several highlights, and the intentions behind them:

Achievers Toronto1) Open Design:  Our workspaces are based on open floor plans and are surrounded by lots of natural light. There are very few individual offices. That’s intentional. We want our environment to encourage the kind of energy and enthusiasm that we hope is synonymous with our product.

2) Visual Cues:  Our Toronto office features a giant red wall inscribed with our company values. It’s one of the first things you see as you enter the front door of the building. Such a public display of company values may not guarantee that all employees internalize them, but it’s a constant reminder to employees, customers and business partners of what we want to represent.

3) Flexibility:  Steelcase reminds us that individuals prefer to structure their own tasks throughout their day. That’s why we offer a variety of options — group seating for collaboration, as well as various quiet and private areas. The more options we offer, the more likely our employees will feel they “fit” into the environment — regardless of their mood or work requirements. Actually, this philosophy aligns with employee recognition best practices as well (our area of expertise at Achievers). It’s human nature. Under some circumstances, a person responds best to public recognition. Other times a private, sincere expression of gratitude is more effective. Variety is the solution.

4) Reinforcement:  We believe that the most critical step any company can take in creating a workplace is to build a culture of “thank you.” Of course, employee recognition isn’t as visible as desks or chairs, but it is likely to be the most durable investment you’ll ever make. If you reinforce behaviors that move business goals forward and encourage employees to embrace core values, these intangibles will become as integral to your organization as the furniture.

Bottom line: When designing a workplace — don’t forget to decorate early and often with recognition!

Image Credit: Pixabay

Office Space: Work in Progress #TChat Recap

Every organization needs the right balance of caves and commons. What that precise balance is depends on what the organization’s particular goals and challenges are, and more granularly, what the immediate situation of a work team is.
Leigh Thompson, Harvard Business Review

This week, the TalentCulture community took on “The Office” as our primary topic. No, we didn’t talk about today’s finale of the long-running TV show. Instead, we focused on real-world workspace — what our physical environment means to us, how it influences our mood and behavior, and the role it plays in our creativity and productivity as individuals, teams and organizations. (For highlights from the #TChat Twitter event, see the Storify slideshow at the end of this post.)

Special Guests: Workspace Wizards

Perhaps no other company understands the concept of workspace better than Steelcase. That’s why we invited experts from that company to share their insights at this week’s #TChat events. If you think of Steelcase as a file cabinet manufacturer, think again. It’s now a global leader in design and furnishings for business, healthcare and education markets. I’m familiar with Steelcase from its work with schools. Just as office space shapes business behavior, classroom configuration has an impact on student learning.

This brief video of the Steelcase “Learning Lab” is a great way to see how Steelcase views workspace:

Key Takeaway: “Place” Matters

Yesterday’s #TChat Twitter conversation was the live-action conclusion to our deep dive into workspace issues and ideas. We seemed to agree on one key point:  These days, “workspace” is often determined by our location at any given moment. Many of us are in constant motion, and we take our work along for the ride — for better or worse. That means flexibility and choice are essential.

But all of us have a primary spot that we call “ours” — even if it’s in a bedroom corner. So, throughout the Twitter chat, many participants (including me) shared pictures of our workspace, or our vision of the ideal setting. Not surprisingly, those images are as diverse as the hundreds of #TChat participants who join us each week! One of my favorites is the Pons Huot Office, shared by Katja Matosevic. (Check out the #TChat Highlights Slideshow below for more, or look at this Forbes gallery of 10 Cool Office Spaces.)

Are you inspired yet? Read on!

#TChat Week-in-Review

SAT 5/11

Sneak Peek: Organizational Pyschologist and #TChat Ambassador, Dr. Marla Gottschalk, helped us frame the week’s theme in her TalentCulture blog post, “Your Workspace: How’s It Working For You?”

SUN 5/12

Forbes.com Post: TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro identified “5 Habits Of Leaders Who Create Workspace Culture” in her weekly Forbes column.

MON 5/13

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio recording now

#TChat Preview: Our community manager, Tim McDonald, posted a detailed the week’s theme and key questions in a preview post: “If These Workspace Walls Could Talk.”

TUE 5/14

#TChat Radio: Chris Congdon, Director of Research Communications at Steelcase, offered fascinating perspectives about the human psychological and physical factors that influence workspace design. In particular, she focused on the importance of choice in satisfying diverse preferences and multiple work modes.

WED 5/15

Related Post: Sourcing specialist and #TChat Ambassador, Ashley Lauren Perez, offered another spin on workspace design — specifically its role in supporting talent acquisition and retention. Read her post, “Employer Brands: Big-Company Ideas for the Rest of Us.”

#TChat Twitter: The community conversation was so fast and furious that once again, we trended on Twitter! Did you get in on the action? If not (or if you want a refresh), see highlights in the slideshow below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights Slideshow: “If These Workspace Walls Could Talk”

[javascript src=”//storify.com/TalentCulture/tchat-insights-if-these-workspace-walls-could-tal.js?template=slideshow”]

Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: Again, thanks to Chris Congdon and Steelcase for sharing your perspectives on workspace design and organizational culture. It feels like this discussion has only just begun!

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about workspace issues? We’re happy to share your thoughts. Just post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week — reward yourself! Join us for events focused on recognition and employee engagement, with special guests, Stan Phelps founder of 9 Inch Marketing, and S. Max Brown, Principal of Leadership Directives at Rideau Recognition Management Institute.

Until then, as always, the World of Work conversation continues each day. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn discussion group. And feel free to explore other areas of our redesigned website. The lights are always on at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

We’ll see you on the stream!

 Photo: Thanks to Tom Bolt for the Einstein inspiration

Employer Brands: Big-Company Ideas for The Rest of Us

Recently on a trip to Seattle, I had an opportunity to visit Amazon.com headquarters — one of the many remarkable corporate campuses located in that region. I’d never explored a “corporate campus” before. But I’ve always been extremely eager to get a first-hand experience after reading many articles about the concept. This was my shot.

Needless to say, I was impressed! But it isn’t just the size of this sprawling facility that blew me away. I was also struck by the branding that is present throughout the environment. It made me think about the whole “employer branding” thing.

Branding From the Inside Out

I know HR practitioners struggle to implement a strong public brand that will attract and recruit top-notch external candidates. It’s one of HR’s primary functions in today’s world of work. But what about the internal brand? It’s also vital to retain talent that is already onboard. What are we doing to keep existing employees engaged and loyal to our organizations? Competitive compensation isn’t the only way to stop an employee from walking.

You may not be an enormous company like Amazon, Google, or LinkedIn. You may not have deep pockets for internal branding initiatives. But you certainly can be inspired by the way the “big boys” cultivate their brands, their work environments, and their corporate cultures. What’s more, you can leverage and adapt some of those heavy-hitter concepts to fit your organization’s circumstances.

Four Key Questions

1) What’s the vibe in your workspace? When I think about world-class employer campuses, one of the most notable characteristics is that many workspace options are available. Yes, I said OPTIONS. Their offices are not set up with jail-like cubicle rows, and an occasional office or conference room here or there. They have open spaces, co-working options, lounge areas, and unique personalities. Perhaps you don’t have the space or budget to create luxurious common areas, but there are plenty of ways to create an open environment that seems welcoming and non-restrictive.

2) Are you committed to internal recruitment marketing? While riding in one of Amazon’s elevators, I noticed a vibrant poster promoting a department that is recruiting Software Engineers. One side of the poster showed a man sitting at a computer with the saying, “This is what it looks like to work on my team.” The other side showed an imaginative, creative, fun scene surrounding the man at the computer with the saying, “This is what it FEELS like to work on my team.” Below that, removable tags featured contact information for the team manager. I absolutely love that. Amazon is huge, so internal communications like that can make it easy to recruit for internal candidates who wouldn’t otherwise know about your team. Makes sense for a company that large, right? Here’s the kicker — even  in small organizations, employees say that they aren’t aware of other jobs or openings. This can be a huge issue, especially since many employees leave their company because they feel like they have no internal mobility options. That situation might not be true — their perception may simply come from lack of information.

3) Are you too scared to adapt? I understand the phrase, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” And that phrase is perfectly reasonable. If your company is functioning fine, there is no reason to fix it. But what about offering more options? Compensation isn’t the only thing that can retain your employees. Sometimes other options can be the deciding factor: telecommuting; flex work; tuition reimbursement; on-going training; co-working; employee engagement initiatives, and so on. Your competitors are coming out with really cool options to retain their employees. Don’t let them beat you out because you were too scared to adapt to the changing world of work.

4) Is it a place of hierarchy or community? There most definitely needs to be order within an organization, but top down communication doesn’t really work as well as it did in the past.  Employees want their voices to be heard — they want to make suggestions, they want to contribute, and they want to build relationships. I have worked in an organization where the president and directors are extremely open to two-way communication. They make it very easy to initiate a conversation — even to the point where interns aren’t scared to make suggestions or casually chat with one of the company’s leaders. It has created a strong sense of community — which has helped position the company as a progressive work environment.

Your employer brand isn’t just about convincing external candidates that your organization is a great place to work. It’s also about making sure your current employees love working there — so much so that no other company or job offer seems more attractive.

(To read Ashley’s original post, visit The Social HR Connection blog.)

If These Workspace Walls Could Talk #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: Looking for the summary of this week’s events and resources? See the #TChat Recap: Office Space: Work in Progress)

Think about it…

Most of us will spend more than 30% of our lives in a workspace of some sort. A formal office with four walls. An isolated cubicle. An open shared space. A nook in your master bedroom. Or even in the front seat of a car.

Wherever you conduct business most frequently, that environment is bound to have a direct and dramatic impact on your psyche and your professional performance. And of course, workspace look and feel influences team and organizational performance, as well.

Workplace Design InfographicA Clean, Well-Lighted Place?

Ideally, work environments enhance efficiency, effectiveness, interaction and even innovation. But, as underscored in the infographic “Transforming Cubicleville USA,” if we don’t pay attention to key factors, our workspace can instead undermine communication, workflow and creativity.

So, how can thoughtful workspace design promote workforce engagement, boost workplace productivity and reinforce organizational culture? What does your workspace say about you as an employee or employer? Could even small changes improve job satisfaction and performance?

#TChat Events: World-of-Work Spaces and You

Truthfully, there isn’t one “right” solution to the challenge of workspace form and function. No two organizations are alike. Each has its own unique business requirements, values and personality to consider. It’s complicated.

But that’s why it’s our focus at #TChat forums this week. And that’s why we’ve invited an expert to frame the discussion — Chris Congdon Director of Research Communications at office furnishings manufacturer, Steelcase. This promises to be a fascinating look at what it takes to create a positive and productive workspace, so we hope you’ll add your voice to the discussion!

TChatRadio_logo_020813

Listen to the #TChat Radio show…

#TChat Radio: Tuesday May 14, 7:30pmET/4:30pmPT

Tune into #TChat Radio live, as hosts Meghan and Kevin ask  Chris to share her insights on workspace design issues and trends.

#TChat Twitter: Wednesday, May 15, 7:00pmET/4:00pmPT

Follow our Twitter hashtag and be part of an open, collective conversation, as we explore these questions with Steelcase guests:

Q1:  How important are workspaces? Why?
Q2:  Do you work in a traditional office, home office, or a virtual one?
Q3:  What workspace features help you work productively?
Q4:  How have workspaces evolved over time? Is this for the better?
Q5:  How is your workspace a reflection of you and your work?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us anytime, and share your questions, ideas and opinions. Just be sure to add “#TChat” to your posts, so others in the community can follow the action.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image credit: Pixabay


Your Workspace: How's It Working for You?

Cultural Clues, Hidden in Plain Sight

What does your workspace say about you? About your organization?

This may have never crossed your mind – but it really should. Workspaces can spur on any number of positive behaviors and organizational outcomes. Your surrounding environment has the potential to enhance opportunities for communication, encourage creativity, and possibly provide the needed spark for innovative thought. I find that workspaces are the most underrated of workplace variables. The power is there – but we often fail to acknowledge that power.

Workspaces are quite telling, as they often seem to reflect what is operating on a deeper level. I’ve seen all sorts of spaces – cluttered environments, dark conference rooms and walls without color. These environments always seem to say something about its residents. It saddens me, when I walk into an organization and I feel no energy – workspaces reflect this. We internalize the essence of what is around us, and workspaces are no different.

Imagining the Possibilities

Ultimately what is right for you, or your organization, workspace-wise is a personal choice. However, there are so many unique options available to express your work life or the culture of your organization. (Steelcase offers some inspiring ideas. See several design directions here and here). There is really no wrong answer to the workspace question – the question just needs to be asked.

So, what is your workspace contributing to your work life? Your organization?

Benefits in Every Corner

As much as we’d like to think that skills are the only factor contributing to excellence, the fact remains that where we work contributes to how we work. Here are just a few reasons to pay attention to the physical space where you work:

  • Form follows function:  If you don’t have a workspace that flows with your work, it is likely that you will be less productive. Workspaces should support your intended activities.
  • Surroundings can help you create:  Working in a well-designed space can help spark ideas. Qualities such as color, lighting, sound, office configuration and furniture — all come into play. The right workspace design can enhance the creative process.
  • Project a positive image:  Your physical space is a reflection of how you see yourself and your business. The style, form and function of your space, all contribute to this. If you work in the creative realm (advertising, design, etc.) your workspace is even more critical – as it reflects what you can do for your clients.

Beneath the Surface

Becoming more effective can possibly start on the surface and trickle down to the other aspects of your work life. When you really think about it – sometimes “rearranging the furniture” is much more than it seems. Some ideas to consider:

  • A little peace:  Wherever you are — on the road, or at home base — incorporate some calming elements. Work life can be mired in drama, so utilize your work space as a key to regain balance.
  • An inspiration:  Your workspace can be an energizing force in your work life. Fill your work environment with people, conversation and visual cues that help you feel positive and successful.
  • A reflection:  At the very core, your space should convey the respect you hold for your work, and what you have set out to accomplish. Your surroundings should celebrate not only your past, but where you intend to go.

How does your work space reflect you and your work? We’ll be discussing this topic at #TChat forums this week (May 14/15) — so join the conversation — or weigh-in with your comments below!)

Image Credit: “Mad Men” AMC Networks

Your Workspace: How’s It Working for You?

Cultural Clues, Hidden in Plain Sight

What does your workspace say about you? About your organization?

This may have never crossed your mind – but it really should. Workspaces can spur on any number of positive behaviors and organizational outcomes. Your surrounding environment has the potential to enhance opportunities for communication, encourage creativity, and possibly provide the needed spark for innovative thought. I find that workspaces are the most underrated of workplace variables. The power is there – but we often fail to acknowledge that power.

Workspaces are quite telling, as they often seem to reflect what is operating on a deeper level. I’ve seen all sorts of spaces – cluttered environments, dark conference rooms and walls without color. These environments always seem to say something about its residents. It saddens me, when I walk into an organization and I feel no energy – workspaces reflect this. We internalize the essence of what is around us, and workspaces are no different.

Imagining the Possibilities

Ultimately what is right for you, or your organization, workspace-wise is a personal choice. However, there are so many unique options available to express your work life or the culture of your organization. (Steelcase offers some inspiring ideas. See several design directions here and here). There is really no wrong answer to the workspace question – the question just needs to be asked.

So, what is your workspace contributing to your work life? Your organization?

Benefits in Every Corner

As much as we’d like to think that skills are the only factor contributing to excellence, the fact remains that where we work contributes to how we work. Here are just a few reasons to pay attention to the physical space where you work:

  • Form follows function:  If you don’t have a workspace that flows with your work, it is likely that you will be less productive. Workspaces should support your intended activities.
  • Surroundings can help you create:  Working in a well-designed space can help spark ideas. Qualities such as color, lighting, sound, office configuration and furniture — all come into play. The right workspace design can enhance the creative process.
  • Project a positive image:  Your physical space is a reflection of how you see yourself and your business. The style, form and function of your space, all contribute to this. If you work in the creative realm (advertising, design, etc.) your workspace is even more critical – as it reflects what you can do for your clients.

Beneath the Surface

Becoming more effective can possibly start on the surface and trickle down to the other aspects of your work life. When you really think about it – sometimes “rearranging the furniture” is much more than it seems. Some ideas to consider:

  • A little peace:  Wherever you are — on the road, or at home base — incorporate some calming elements. Work life can be mired in drama, so utilize your work space as a key to regain balance.
  • An inspiration:  Your workspace can be an energizing force in your work life. Fill your work environment with people, conversation and visual cues that help you feel positive and successful.
  • A reflection:  At the very core, your space should convey the respect you hold for your work, and what you have set out to accomplish. Your surroundings should celebrate not only your past, but where you intend to go.

How does your work space reflect you and your work? We’ll be discussing this topic at #TChat forums this week (May 14/15) — so join the conversation — or weigh-in with your comments below!)

Image Credit: “Mad Men” AMC Networks