If leaders were to nurture a great place to work, what would that work environment look like from the employees’ perspective? On a peer advisory board that I facilitate and coach, I put this question to our CEO’s. Here is what we came up with.
First, employees need to feel that they have the opportunity and tools to do what they do best every day. That means leaders should consider if employees are in the right role and have the right resources to do their best work. Employees also need to believe that their fellow employees are committed to quality and success. Do people have a sense that everyone is in the same boat and that everyone is rowing in the same direction?
In addition, employees need to feel that their opinions count. This means they are listened to, they are heard, and that their leaders take action in response. Here’s how it works from an employee’s perspective: The employee thinks, “I see a problem in the organization and I’m going to talk to my boss about this.” After speaking with the boss, the employee thinks, “The boss actually heard me.”
Finally, the employee knows the boss heard because three months later that problem doesn’t exist anymore. Employees also need to have a sense of connection between their work and their company’s mission. Those are the key aspects of a great work environment.
Now we need to ask, can employee attitudes—their perception that they are (or are not) in a great place to work—really have a direct impact on the productivity and profitability of an organization? Absolutely yes! In the book 12: The Elements of Great Managing, Rodd Wagner and James Harter report on extensive research that supports this conclusion. Wagner and Harter surveyed 120 organizations to learn the relationship between employee attitudes and company performance. They found that productivity was 12% higher in companies that successfully nurtured all the aspects of a great work environment.
So the research of Wagner and Harter supports what our regional CEO’s believe. You can build a great place to work and still meet all your financial goals.