1 in 4 Workers Don’t Trust Their Employers: Solutions Often Ignored

A new study by the American Psychological Association shows that one in four workers does not trust their employer. About the same amount say they do not feel valued. These numbers negatively impact worker productivity and motivation and the company’s success but have stayed relatively the same year after year. It seems the solutions for workplace improvement are being ignored by many companies, says Dr. Noelle Nelson, career and workplace expert and author of Make More Money By Making Your Employees Happy (Amazon, $7.99).

“Some companies just don’t get the connection between treating their employees with respect and their bottom line,” says Nelson. “No matter how many studies come out saying that company management should listen to employees, respect their needs, offer them opportunities to advance and appreciate their good work, companies continue to take their employees for granted, demean them and regard them as dispensable. The crux of the matter is that companies that treat their employees with respect consistently return higher profits than those that don’t.” Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” stock prices rose an average of 14 percent per year from 1998-2005, compared to 6 percent for the market overall. http://bit.ly/KwMd95.

Nelson says that while an attitude of disregard comes from the top down, immediate bosses often hold the key in making a difference in an employee’s work life. “An immediate boss has the ability to change the office work environment with just a few simple fixes,” explains Nelson. “Most of these changes cost nothing to implement. A boss just has to have a desire to create a better, more productive environment for employees.” Some of her suggestions include:

–Communicate employee duties and responsibilities clearly so workers know what is expected
of them. You can’t live up to what you don’t know.

–Make sure your employees have the tools, training and sufficient time to accomplish their
tasks and meet company goals. Few things make employees feel more unappreciated, frustrated and
unhappy as not having the appropriate resources for their job.

–When an employee has a problem with their job, set your employee up for success by valuing their efforts to do better, not berating them for the failure.

–An employee should never be surprised by a year-end review. All along the year, employees should receive regular, frequent, targeted feedback on their work.

–Acknowledging employees doing something right is a far more successful path to work excellence, than continually pointing out what they are doing wrong.

“Scores of workplace experts and psychologists have offered these suggestions for years, yet horror stories about bad bosses and horrible workplaces still fill websites and blogs,” says Nelson. “The question is why? Most likely, dysfunctional businesses and bosses just don’t care enough to make the effort to improve. Unfortunately, this means unhealthy behavior and attitudes in the workplace will remain until the economic price becomes too high to ignore.”

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Management Success Tip #120: Work Space Matters: Make it Matter to Your Benefit!

Work Space Matters: Make it Matter to Your Benefit!

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You wouldn’t think that where your employee’s desk/cubicle/workspace/meeting area is, or how it is configured, matters to his/her performance – beyond the basics of clean and functional, but it actually matters quite a bit.

And it isn’t so much a question of fancy interior design and ergonomic everything (as nice as that might be), but more a question of how much leeway do your employees have in designing their own work space?

The more autonomy employees are given in terms of time and space management has been shown to lead to greater organizational productivity, and positive impact on their motivation and performance.

Diane Hoskins, co-CEO of the design and architectural firm Gensler, who has spent her career designing workplaces and studying the link between design and business performance, points to Facebook as a prime example:

“At their headquarters, employees have the ability to tailor the layout, height, and configuration of their own desks based on personal preference. Teams can also create whatever workspace layout best supports their project, moving desks into a circular break-out space or a long row of desks, for example.”

Admittedly, most companies don’t have Facebook’s means or resources to provide their employees with such possibilities, however, most companies can find a way to allow employees some autonomy in designing their work-space.

For example, ask your team members: which project layout would work better for them? Or which room/space would make for more productive meetings? How can cubicles/workspaces be set up to support most effective and satisfying performance?

Your employees are best placed to know what physical conditions would facilitate their best work.

Ask, and you will receive!

Management Success Tip #119: The Relevance of Meaning to Employee Performance

As we evolve as a species, meaning becomes more and more relevant. Not just personal meaning, the age-old question “Who am I and what am I doing here? What is my purpose?” but work-related meaning.

The Relevance of Meaning to Employee Performance

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With that, I was not surprised to learn of the recent encounter Mitch Barns, the new Nielsen CEO, had with a young leader who asked him two pointed questions at a Q&A session. “Do you think the work we do has any redeeming social value? And more specifically, do you think our work does any good in the world?”

This is a question asked more and more frequently by all of us in the workforce, not just our socially-and-community minded Millennials. And the more often you, as a manager, can help your employees see the meaning and purpose in their work, the more likely they are to perform at higher levels, while gaining personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

How does your company, your business, further the well-being of others? Of your customers/clients, those your customers/clients interact with? How does your company impact the community, the environment, the bigger social picture?

These questions can be answered by a Mom & Pop shop or a mid-sized service company, just as well as they can by an international corporation. The important thing is to answer them, and communicate those answers to your employees so they can work with a sense of purpose, knowing they are contributing something meaningful to their world.

Management Success Tip #118: Don’t Dumb Down: Be Succinct, Be Clear!

Too often, in an effort to make things clear, we dumb-down our directives. But dumbing down isn’t the same thing as insuring clarity.

Don’t Dumb Down: Be Succinct, Be Clear!

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Clarity comes from being logical, succinct and to the point.

Jacob Kache in a recent Lead Change post sums it up well:

“Respect your employees’ intelligence. Maybe you got to where you are because you’re inherently smarter than those with whom you work. Maybe you got the position because your grandpa is the CEO. Either way, you need to remember that those who work under you are just as qualified to do their jobs as you are to do yours…As such, you don’t need to treat them like ignorant children when explaining complex issues. In fact, keep the “explaining” part to a minimum, otherwise you end up with day-long meetings and employees with dead eyes and crushed spirits.”

Communicate in bullets, in steps, use short sentences. Make sure your door is genuinely open, and that your employees know they can come to you for clarification if needed, and, as Kache says, your employees will: “…get the information that they need, and you won’t have insulted their intelligence by talking to them as though they were a bunch of drooling morons.”

Management Success Tip #117: Want More Success in the Workplace? Try Gratitude!

The simple act of saying “Thank you” has enormous power in the workplace.

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We don’t think about that a lot – for most of us, “thank you” is the automatic response to someone handing you something. And that’s the problem: too often, it’s an automatic response, something you do because your mother told you “always say please and thank you.”

But there is great power in “thank you” that far outweighs its purpose as a civil nicety. To give but one example, from Francesca Gino, associate Professor of business administration at Harvard Business School:

In one experiment, 41 fundraisers at a public U.S. university who were soliciting alumni donations were divided into two groups: the “thanked” and the “unthanked.” The thanked received a visit from the director of annual giving, who told them: “I am very grateful for your hard work. We sincerely appreciate your contributions to the university.” The other group received daily feedback on their effectiveness, but no expressions of gratitude from their director. The result? The weekly call volume of fundraisers in the thanked group increased by 50% on average the week after the intervention took place, all because the directorʼs expression of gratitude strengthened the fundraisersʼ feelings of social worth.”

“Thank you” is not only under-rated as a force for business success, but under-used in the workplace as well:  A recent survey of 2,000 Americans  by the John Templeton Foundation found that people are less likely to feel or express gratitude at work than anyplace else.

Put the power of gratitude to work – for the success of your business and the greater personal fulfillment of your employees.

Management Success Tip #116: Want Enthusiastic, Motivated Employees? Switch Your Focus from Output to Impact

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If you want engaged employees– critical to the success of your business–beyond the obvious of treating them with respect and providing fair compensation, change your emphasis from what Rosabeth Moss Kanter calls “output to impact – from how many products are sold to how much the products enrich peopleʼs lives in the broader society.”

We crave meaning in our work lives. We want to know that what we do matters, counts, is important–whether it’s putting widgets together on an assembly line or assisting in an operating room. Sure, it may seem easier to pump up employee enthusiasm when they are in life-saving occupations, but think about it: the employee who puts that widget together properly is integral to the safety of the machine or vehicle or whatever it is, and thus to the safety and well-being of the end user.

It’s up to you to see to it that your employees, from all departments, are well versed in the importance of what they do. Kanter’s recommendations are sound: “Repeat and reinforce a larger purpose. Emphasize the positive impact of the work they do. Clarity about how your products or services can improve the world provides guideposts for employeesʼ priorities and decisions. As part of the daily conversation, mission and purpose can make even mundane tasks a means to a larger end.”

What your employees do, matters. Let them know it. Lend your enthusiasm, your belief, your engagement to that cause, and your employees will bring their enthusiasm to yours.