Shawn Murphy -
June 18, 2013
Does your employer care about you?
Whether you believe research findings showing that 65% of employees are unhappy at work or that 68% of employees think that their bosses care more about their own skills opposed to inspiring the team to do great works, a gut check will reveal to most employees, including management, a dismal “no” to the question.
The Great Recession, corporate ethics scandals, layoffs, high unemployment, and personal-economy woes fueled the progression of an already unhappy workforce to a wintery discontent.
However, I’m merely recapping what is common knowledge. What is a curiosity, though, is what affect do today’s events have on future workplaces? Certainly the implications are vast and plentiful. In an attempt to tame such a myriad of possibilities, let me hone my focus on one - the organization’s influence on employees’ lives.
Trends in what employees want point to higher-needs beyond pay: meaningful work, an optimistic work environment, ability to make a difference in customers’ lives.
Research done by The Ken Blanchard Company and Training Magazine found that meaningful work outranked autonomy and workload balance. Even big five consulting firm McKinsey released research promoting the business value of employee passion. Passionate employees are more willing to expend discretionary effort to do good works. McKinsey believes that passionate employees learn faster and will better benefit the organization by keeping pace with the rate of changes shaping businesses.
The rub in all this is that organizations must be willing to shift their myopic focus on profit and pleasing shareholders to creating a work environment that unleashes employees’ talents, wisdoms and orchestrates the two for profitable outcomes.
However, profit outcomes will not be enough for employees. In 2025, employees will have successfully communicated by their feet that they will no longer tolerate being treated as cogs in an antiquated, industrial machine. Employees want to know they work for a company that demonstrates repeatedly care for them, the communities in which it operates, and the impact it has on both.
Today’s influences will force organizations to rethink the relationship with employees. The savvy companies will recognize that talent constraints will require them to find ways to do good in the lives of employees, customers, stakeholders and shareholders. It will be a necessity to keep and attract top talent.
Such “do-gooding” will be a response to the social trends, the frosty cultures, even the unfocused, unharnessed energy of employees’ efforts.
These trends make sense when juxtaposed against the social and economic trends and their influences on employee engagement, job satisfaction, wellbeing, and other indicators that show signs of organizational health. But what does a manager today do?
Perhaps this seems obvious, but I’ve coached countless managers who feel stuck and don’t even know where to start. Decide to act by choosing to not let the doldrums dominate the team culture.
Lead locally, meaning don’t wait for upper management to take on making the workplace better. Direct managers have the greatest influence on their team. Not the CEO, not the VP.
Talk with employees about what your intentions are and have a series of conversations about what is currently helping make the workplace good. Be mindful to not excessively focus on the negatives. It’s definitely necessary to know what is causing breakdowns in the relationship between management and employees.
Avoid the mistake of gathering input and then meeting with management to develop a solution. This is outdated management. Assess the input and form small teams to develop responses to what’s working and not working. The goal here is to create a better future.
The team will value having the opportunity to make their workplace better. If they can get their fingerprints all over the solution, they will more likely be satisfied with the direction and own the outcomes.
It’s important to understand the workforce and workplace trends. Pay attention to the aging workforce trend. Boomers are not retiring until mid-60s. This will influence how employees collaborate, even job opportunities.
Study the forecasts that American employees are underskilled for the dynamic problems organizations face and will face.
Learn to get comfortable leading virtual teams and the technology needed to bring such a team together.
Explore how to get employees to collaborate despite geographic location.
The three actions mentioned are solid places to begin the journey to help organizations fulfill its role as do-gooder in employees’ lives. The key is to act now and not wait for the issues today to worsen. Despite what employees may say or do, they are eager for the workplace to be great.
Managing Director of Organizational Development at KAI Partners. Co-founder of Switch and Shift, a leadership blog that focuses on the Human Side of Business. Author of a Snippet titled Creating Joy at Work. Passionately explores the space where business and humanity intersect. Promoter of workplace optimism. Believes work can be a source of joy. Top ranked leadership blogger by Huffington Post and HR trend spotter by HR Examiner. Follow Shawn on Twitter at @shawmu