Employee engagement is such a big issue for most businesses in Australia. In business surveys, securing and retaining good staff is always one of the top problems. Reflecting on my work as a Business Mentor, here is my list of the top five things that every workplace must do to ensure highly productive staff
1. Make sure each new staff member is onboarded well.
They need to be introduced to people and systems and all the practical things related to working in the company. They need to understand who they report to and with whom they need to build good working relationships. The induction process also needs to include helping them know what the company is about: the vision, values and culture. This will help them understand from the beginning not only what their role is, but why their role is important. Without a good onboarding process, new staff members can struggle unnecessarily and may never settle into the work environment.
2. Create Position Descriptions which are ‘outcome’ rather than ‘task’ focused.
To empower staff members, they need to know exactly what they are responsible for, not just a list of duties they are meant to complete. They need to know why their job is important, and the scope of their role, and how what they do contributes to the success of the business. They need to know how to measure when they are being successful at their role, so meaningful KPI’s are crucial, not so much for compliance but for a sense of achievement. KPI’s set this way form the basis for regular healthy conversations about performance and productivity.
3. Make sure the business has a clear direction and a strategic plan.
A clearly articulated strategic plan makes it easy for all team members to fit in and flow. Plans should be set and followed consistently, without continual chopping and changing. If last minute changes sometimes do occur, team members should be involved in the changes, and understand why the changes are necessary, so they have a context for the change and can adjust accordingly.
4. Help them understand what is flexible and what is totally inflexible and non-negotiable.
This is about creating clear expectations and agreements. g. if they need to arrive at the work premises by a certain time every day to open or for a team meeting, then that is inflexible.
1. Inflexible times might include: strategic team meetings, client meetings, training times, anything where others are dependent on them.
2. Flexible times could be almost any other time. In the 21st century workplace flexibility is one of the most important benefits of a workplace. E.g. Is it possible to work from home, say, if they have a sick child, or have flu symptoms they do not want to share?
It is vital to establish clear boundaries and guidelines around how flexibility works. The boss who is less organised and just likes to have his full team around to call a snap meeting whenever he or she likes will not be comfortable with any level of flexibility. The more organised leader who empowers their team to work to a clear strategy will be more able to allow some flexibility as long KPIs are being met and the culture of the organisation remains strong and healthy.
5. Create a healthy environment in which to work.
One of the most important roles of a leader is to set the tone for their organisation. This requires consistency. Consistency of vision, direction, strategy and plans are important. So is consistency of mood, focus, energy, encouragement, relationships, communication, and care. Many business leaders do not seem to understand how their own demeanour affects the environment for their team. Consistency requires a level of self-discipline, and some honesty and vulnerability to apologise for a temper tantrum or to explain a low mood. When the leader is consistent, and real, it is easier for everyone to be themselves and to settle into a role and a team. If there is a happy mood one day, and the next everyone is tense and on edge; if there is strong compliance required one day and people get away with poor attitudes the next; if some people get treated well and others seem to be disregarded; then the workplace becomes very confused and dysfunctional. No-one enjoys working there. It is an unsafe place emotionally.
If you as a business leader do these five things well, you will have a healthy workplace and highly productive staff.
If you are struggling with any or all these things and would like to have a free 30-minute conversation about it, please click here to book a time that works for both of us.