Creating the right workplace environment

Today’s blog post is also by 10Eighty CEO and Founder Michael Moran. He has a passion for helping people maximise their potential and believes everyone should have job satisfaction and a successful career and helps organisations design jobs and career paths that maximise employee engagement. 

I think we often forget about the importance of the work environment. I for one was at one time one those HR professionals who shied away from facilities management. When, truth be known, when and where people work is critical to organisational effectiveness. In my case the opportunity to design a dealing room, and dictate who sat next to each other, and the consequent impact on work processes opened my eyes to the need to afford careful consideration to the workplace environment.

A recent Future of Work podcast engaged in a discussion with Mary Bilbrey, the chief human resource officer of JLL in the Americas, around the corporate real estate environment and workplace strategy integrates with the talent strategy. Mary talks about the use of space and technology within the space to promote wellbeing. She mentions the new McDonald’s headquarters in Chicago which is a really smart building, where employees are using apps to book rooms and set the workplace temperature for their workspace, the space is flexible in terms of open-plan, hot desking, pods, break-out areas, conference facilities and collaborative working.

Impact on the employee experience

This approach provides not just financial operational efficiency but an employee experience which is really fit for the future and enables an employer to differentiate themselves in driving the connection to their brand, their values, their culture. Mary provides another really great example of this differentiation and how it impacts the employee experience.

At the new Toyota headquarters in Texas there is a light fixture, a chandelier made out of deployed airbags – what it really represents to the employees is a symbol that they save lives. They don’t just make Toyota cars, they actually save lives; there is a real emotional connection. The use of a sculpture to embody organisational values, has much greater resonance than the posting of the values poster in the reception, or mugs emblazoned with the corporate mission statement.

The airbag chandelier reminded me of the story about the NASA janitor who, asked by President Kennedy what his job entailed, said that he was helping to put a man on the moon. That feeling of being part of the team, of understanding the bigger picture, of being a valued contributor to the overall mission makes a real difference to the engaged employee.

In thinking about motivation we tend to focus on compensation, perks and benefits and the open-plan décor, but tend to forget to connect what the company stands for and that’s why the Toyota chandelier reframes that connection for an enhanced employee experience.

Engaging the remote workforce

The nature of work, and the way in which we view work has changed. Workers don’t all want the same thing, but being collaborative in the workplace helps support the diverse needs of today’s workforce. Never mind moveable walls and a choice of work pods, many organisations no longer maintain traditional offices, they use serviced offices and staff meet occasionally, work is enabled by rapidly evolving technologies and very specific contractual arrangements. The new workplace may be flexible but the people still need to be led, motivated and managed, inspired, advised and organised, depending on what works best for you and them.

Most workers value these new ways of working but it does mean that leadership has to work harder to communicate their EVP and corporate culture as well as facilitating knowledge sharing and collaboration. We know that employees collaborate best when they have personal connections with each other, that’s harder if the team is scattered. Smart technology, rather than office design, is key in this situation, so appropriate file-sharing platforms and intranets, team calendars, messaging services and accessible support systems make work more productive. The big question is when asked who is your best friend at work, do you reply Yammer, Slack or Jive?

Make it easy for people to give of their best and you have a happier and more engaged workforce who really care about the job in hand and customer service. It’s about giving your people the flexibility to design their days and order their workload so that their professional and personal lives are aligned and are fulfilling and meaningful.

Creating a positive culture

Company culture and the employee experience still matter even where the team all work remotely, so don’t forget to arrange meet ups but you can also to create virtual watercooler moments such lunch and learns, online coffee breaks or books clubs. 10Eighty recommend that you aim to embrace the flexibility, versatility and learning agility of the growing digital nomad talent pool while building a culture of trust and transparency. A 2017 Harvard Business Review study noted that employees who feel trusted perform better, exert extra effort, and go above and beyond expectations – what’s not to like? Research by the Canadian Economist John Helliwell found a 10% increase in employee trust in a company’s leaders has the same impact on their life satisfaction as receiving a 36% pay increase.

Little things make a big difference, so it’s important to take into account what makes employees feel connected to the organisation. For young workers today it is crucial to feel good, that what they’re doing during the day has purpose and so management need to think about that in terms of employer branding and providing an environment and amenities that promote a good employee experience. You can leverage the efficiency of the workplace by providing choices and enabling integration of working life and personal preferences for the workforce which will also benefit the organisation.

You can’t manage the modern workplace in the same way that our predecessors did when Taylor used time and motion studies to streamline workflows. Scott Adams perfectly captures the tyranny of the scientific management workplace. Today we need to be employee centric. The workplace, as well as the job, has to be sculpted to suit the needs of the employee and that involves significantly more than pool tables, free yoga classes or smart espresso coffee machines.

We’d be interested to hear about your views on creating the right work enviroment. What’s gone well? What hasn’t gone so well?  Either post your views or story at the end of this article, Tweet us @10EightyCareersor leave a comment on our Facebook page.

Michael is Chief Executive of 10Eighty. 10Eighty is a career and talent management consultancy that helps organizations maximize the contribution of their employees by ensuring satisfying jobs and careers for their employees. Michael is a Human Resources professional, having worked in the National Health Service, Insurance, Commodities and Derivatives industries. He has worked within the career coaching business for fifteen years, both managing a £7 million business and delivering bespoke, one to one career coaching. In the last 15 years Michael has run businesses that have helped 75,000 people make successful career transitions. He is a frequent commentator in the press/media, which includes a range of topics on “successfully managing your career” and talent management. Most recent media mentions have included BBC South, CNBC, Radio4, Financial Times, City AM, Financial News, Evening Standard, The Sunday Times, The Grapevine and HR Magazine, to name but a few. He writes a careers column for People Management, a blog for the Human Resources Magazine and is a regular contributor to The Thompson Reuters HR Portal. Michael is known as a thought provoking speaker in the HR industry. In the last 18 months, Michael spoke at the Careers Partner International Conference, NHS breakthrough conference, NHS North West Leadership Academy, London School of Economics, University of Westminster’s Talent Management Conference, ICAEW Finance Directors Conference, CIPD learning and development conference and CIPD branch seminars. He is also Chair of the CIPD’s Central London Branch. Additionally is a non executive director of Marshall ACM, an e-learning company and the Total Reward Group, a compensation and benefits consultancy. Michael plans to publish his book “The guide to everlasting employability” in the Autumn 2012. He has just launched an iphone app “careers snakes and ladders” and an online interactive version of the book in collaboration with Marshall ACM to coincide the launch of his new business 10Eighty. Michael has a degree in Economics, a MBA from Warwick Business School and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He holds an accreditation from the British Psychological Society for the use of psychometrics. Michael has completed the Fairplace Internal Accreditation Programme, the training element of which is externally recognised by the Association for Coaching. Michael Moran was until January 2012 Chief Executive of Fairplace and a main board director of Savile plc, the career and talent management consultancy. Fairplace is part of the Savile Group, an AIM listed plc. The Savile Group was placed 16th in the Sunday Times top 100 small companies in 2010.

Posted in Career advice, Corporate culture, Employee engagement, Work experience

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Michael Moran – CEO 10Eighty

A blog about career and talent management, things that might help you with your career and in your job.


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