Employees can reveal what holds companies back

It’s common for organizations to take stock of their employees at the start of the new year. They celebrate extraordinary performance and vow to fix the areas that are broken. But the new year is often crowded with lots of priorities. And as a result, attention to the employee experience gets lost in the shuffle.

Employees can reveal

The truth is, any time is a good time for an employee experience checkup so you can track progress, stay focused, and see the impact of your changes.

We recommend an employee experience checkup, where the foundation is built on a survey administered to all employees. Consider these two examples of organizations that need help.

Case 1: A manufacturing company enjoying record growth and profits introduced two new products and entered a new market. Sales and financials were going swimmingly, but an employee survey showed low scores on the culture drivers that contribute to positive organizational performance. As it turns out, employees were confused about the new direction, burned out by long hours, and felt unappreciated for their efforts. A majority of employees admitted they were looking for a better job.

Case 2: A financial services firm had struggled to meet its targets for three consecutive quarters. The CEO wanted a comprehensive, data-driven approach to get at the root cause of the firm’s failure to perform. What alarmed him was the revelation that the culture drivers were way out of line with others in the financial services industry. The survey uncovered that the working environment was preventing his employees from performing at their very best every day. Employees didn’t believe the company was acting congruently with its values. Also, there was evidence that suggested cross-department collaboration was low and that new ideas were discouraged.

There are a couple of routes organizations can take:

For Case #1, a tactical action plan:

  • Improve systemic, organization-wide issues.
  • A strategy for addressing localized issues within departments.
  • Coaching for selected executives on their results.
  • Facilitation of selected departments to develop solutions for especially challenging issues.

For Case #2, a culture roadmap:

  • A succinct statement of the aspirations of the new culture, and what it will take to get there.
  • A list of current improvement initiatives and strengths that can be built upon for the future.
  • Establishment of processes and structures to move from the current situation to the desired one.
  • Overall plan and timetable for culture changes.

Workplace culture, like any well-oiled machine, cannot run continuously without occasional repairs and fine tuning. One of the best ways to be intentional about culture is to check in with your employees – not just once a year, but on a more regular cadence.

Tom Devane is vice president of workplace consulting for Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s partner for Top Workplaces. To nominate your company as a Top Workplace, go to washingtonpost.com/nominate.

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