Lessons from the top can create a better workplace
What distinguishes a Top Workplace from an average one? The truth is, there is no single practice, no one-size-fits-all solution for achieving great results. But there are common qualities of success you should be able to identify in every company.
We know from research it’s not perks or “coolness” that makes the difference. The best employers carefully craft a positive workplace culture. We also know these share a common foundation that supports employee engagement. Here are five key lessons:
- People really are the greatest asset: It goes beyond lip service. It is a core principle that is brought to life every day, with leadership putting employees at the center of their thinking. Done right, the feeling is returned: Employees consistently tell us that a sense of appreciation and confidence in leadership are among the most important factors for their workplace satisfaction.
- Leaders listen: The best leaders listen to the feedback provided by employees both formally and informally. While some leaders might dwell on the inherent risks of giving employees a voice, leaders at Top Workplaces are clued into their team’s challenges and use this knowledge in decision-making. This builds a sense of commitment and accountability.
- Everyone is in the loop: It is difficult to be fully committed if you are kept in the dark. Employees want to be well-informed. Leaders in Top Workplaces recognize this. They are committed to sharing information as much — and as often — as they can. And they do not just share the happy news. Organizations that fail to communicate with staff on a regular basis, substantively, will leave an information void. That gap will be filled quickly with rumors and speculation.
- Live with a purpose: Employees want to feel their work contributes to something meaningful. Effective leaders deliver an inspiring vision, which the entire team connects with day to day. Motivation matters.
- Build community: Neuroscience teaches us the importance people place on feeling accepted and safe in their “tribe.” It helps them stay focused and contributes to success. In forging productive employee experiences, Top Workplaces care about building community.
The best workplaces always look to improve. After all, it’s a journey, not a destination. Even top-ranked companies will find things to work on in a process of continuous improvement.
If done right, employees will know their workplace is special. Employers should not be shy asking for extra effort in return. Ensure staff remains active in the ongoing success of the organization — with all the necessary accountability. And remember to celebrate along the way.
Doug Claffey is founder and chief strategy officer at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s partner for Top Workplaces.
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