Real Organisational Experience Through A Positive Work Environment

One of the keys to retaining valued employees and talents is to provide them with an organisational experience that truly wows them to stay for more.

This article is part of a 6-week series exploring the key dimensions of the organisational experience - Meaningful Work, Supportive Management, Positive Work Environment, Growth Opportunity, Trust in Leadership, and Cross-Organisational Collaboration and Communication. Based on Deloitte’s Simply Irresistible Organisation Model, PACE developed further research to determine which factors within these dimensions are the most important.

Imagine your ideal workplace. How does it look like? How does it make you feel? How does it differ from your current workplace?

Everyone has a different idea of what an ‘ideal workplace’ entails. The Harvard Business Review alone has spent years interrogating the idea of an ideal workplace. Research shows that the work environment affects everything from employee morale to productivity to absenteeism and turnover rates.

So what are the overarching factors that make up a healthy work environment?

Using Deloitte’s Simply Irresistible Organisation Model, we know that there are four key factors in creating a Positive Work Environment. In order of importance (according to our research), they are a Culture of Recognition, Humanistic Workplace, Accepting Environment, and Flexible Work Environment.

Culture of Recognition

Our survey respondents felt that a culture of recognition was the most important factor in creating a healthy work environment. This could mean anything from a simple ‘thank you’ or ‘good job’ from leader or peers to monetary compensation as recognition of a job well done. Encouraging peer-to-peer recognition also creates more camaraderie within the workplace and dismantles the idea that leaders are the only source of feedback.

According to Kouzes and Posner, when the human heart is encouraged, it lifts up the human spirit. We can all do our part to lift each other up, especially during these times of economic turmoil and the Covid-19 pandemic. Their research shows that people do better when their hearts are encouraged, even in peaceful times. Recognition is a great form of encouragement.  

The 2018 SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey found that 85% of HR leaders say that an employee recognition program has had a positive effect on organisational culture and employee engagement. The findings also show a 63% increase in employee productivity and a 58% increase in profit margins compared to companies without employee recognition.

Humanistic Workplace

The next most important factor is cultivating a humanistic workplace. This involves recognising that employees are people with lives and interests outside of their work. Organisations should consider ways to help employees seamlessly integrate their work and personal lives by offering benefits that acknowledge their lives outside of work - food, celebrations, extra services such as gyms, or dry cleaning services.

The results speak for themselves. The top two companies awarded the Best Workplaces in Asia 2020 - DHL Express and Hilton - offer perks that go well beyond their employees’ work lives. DHL Express provides scholarships for children of employees, health and well-being programs, and company nurseries and doctors, among others. Hilton provides its staff with travel programs with discounts at all their hotels, as well as sabbatical programs.

While these are prime examples in large multinational companies, smaller companies can also provide for their employees with perks like paid transport, meal allowances, or private pods for phone calls. Given the current pandemic and the challenges that businesses are facing, particularly small to medium companies, even companies that cannot afford basic perks must ensure their employees are afforded sufficient rest and are being treated with the respect any human deserves.

Accepting Environment

This factor doesn’t just cover the traditional markers of diversity, like age, gender, and race. It also includes accepting and embracing differences in perspectives.

Creating an accepting environment starts from the top. Leaders must first become aware of and work towards overcoming their unconscious bias so they can be a fair spokesperson for the company. By creating forums for open discussion and promoting listening and inclusive values, leaders ensure that everyone feels heard and respected. Research shows that the simple act of listening has enabling effects on others, raises employee morale and encourages innovation.

Teams with inclusive cultures outperform those that don’t. Employees who feel welcome to express their authentic selves exhibit higher levels of organisational commitment, individual performance, and are more likely to help others, according to London Business School’s Dan Cable.

This factor also links back to one of our earlier articles - creating Meaningful Work by selecting employees who match the corporate culture. Here, we would like to reiterate that an accepting environment isn’t just about employing people who look and speak and think differently. It requires going a step further and recognising shared values while embracing and supporting diversity.

Flexible Work Environment

When we think of flexible workplaces, we often think of working from home arrangements. This has become especially common due to the Covid-9 pandemic. But we want to challenge you to think beyond that.

Flexible workplaces also encourage easeful communication between departments, and the ways in which KPIs are hit. It recognises that some people work better alone, while others prefer to be surrounded by co-workers.

There is a direct correlation between flexible workplaces and profitability. A 2020 Qualtrics study found that one in three employees in Singapore felt more productive since they started working from home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Similarly, Arup, designer of iconic buildings like the Sydney Opera House and the Beijing Water Cube, shuns orderliness and convention. They encourage creativity and open-mindedness by thinking beyond their immediate clients. By collaborating with artists, mathematicians, politicians, and so on, their flexibility encourages both creativity and broad thinking, cementing their place as one of the top engineering and design firms in the world.

In conclusion, a positive work environment is an integral part of the six dimensions - Meaningful Work, Supportive Management, Positive Work Environment, Growth Opportunity, Trust in Leadership, and Cross-Organisational Collaboration and Communication. It covers employees’ extrinsic and intrinsic motivators in creating an ideal workplace. By maximising extrinsic motivators (such as creating a culture of recognition and a humanistic workplace) and supporting employees’ intrinsic motivators (through an accepting environment and flexible work environment), organisations can provide a holistic experience for their employees.

For a sample copy of Real® Organisational Experience report click here.

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