Workplace Brain Hacks: The 3 Things That (Actually) Matter to Your Employees
It’s a new year and, for many, a new opportunity to change how they live and work. Over the past few months, one thing I’ve noticed is that companies seem to be focusing more on how to improve their corporate culture, and engage their employees in ways that are meaningful to everyone.
As I’ve discussed before, employee engagement is at an all-time low, and it’s been dropping steadily since 2014. There are many reasons for why this is happening. Part of it is the job market: many employees these days are stuck in retail and part-time jobs that they are often overqualified for, and the jobs are neither engaging nor are they providing the resources for a sustainable lifestyle.
Part of it is also The Management’s fault.
Jen Bunk, a Management Consultant and Deep Core Data blog correspondent, recently wrote an article on how and why it falls on the management’s shoulders to motivate their employees, and it’s both a sobering and uplifting message. No one likes admitting their flaws, but take a minute to read the article. Consider the article. Absorb the article.
Now that you’ve accepted the article into your soul, let’s talk about some tips and other articles that will help you create a positive impact and bring your team together.
1. Environment Matters!
We’re not talking about the difference between working from home or from the office here (although that can have an impact too!). We’re talking about the subtle psychological effect that gray walls and emotionless cubicles have on employees.
Believe it or not, color can affect your mood, and drab, industrial gray just doesn’t do it for most people. And while a warm, buttery yellow can brighten up a room, it might not be the best color for inspiring creativity; many people prefer green, and shades of red are recommended for meeting spaces.
You might even just want to match your company’s corporate colors. The Deep Core Data office space is painted a nice heathery purple, chosen specifically to maintain our brand image while not being overwhelming.
This panorama of the Deep Core office shows off the lovely color of our walls, but also shows just how empty they are.
Of course, our walls are still overwhelmingly bare, which makes the office feel a little empty. We’re still new to our office, and not a lot of focus has been put on decorating our space, so it’s understandable. But right now, as I’m typing this, I’m resolving to bring a little bit of personality into our office.
It’s not just for looks (although having a well-decorated office makes a good impression on visiting clients); having a little something to break up the monotony can go a long way towards creating a welcoming environment. Even if you’re not consciously pay attention to them, things like artwork and motivational pictures still subconsciously influence your behavior. According to a University of Texas study, call center workers in an office with motivational posters performed 33% better than those in offices without them.
This infographic from NASA shows that not only do plants add a splash of life and color to the office, but they can make the office air healthier as well! Click through to see the whole thing.
2. Feedback Matters!
In the past, I’ve talked about performance metrics and how they can help your business succeed. However, you should not rely on metrics alone to boost team productivity; while keeping track of numbers and posting them gives people a good idea of where they’re heading, it might not be enough to keep them engaged.
Feedback comes in two forms: observable effect, and volunteered information. The performance metrics we mentioned above are a good example of observable effect feedback, providing quantifiable, comparable benchmarks that track the rate of progress.
But that shouldn’t be the only source of feedback employees are receiving. You have to offer effective feedback about their performance as well. Performance metrics only convey the results of their actions; they don’t offer any insight to why a certain action produced certain results, or how some efforts could be improved upon.
Goal-referencing feedback enables employees to ensure that they’re on track, and highlights areas that need improvement by pinpointing specific behaviors or events that should be changed.
Explaining how these behaviors should be changed is also an important part of feedback; leaving employees to figure it out on their own may cause frustration and leave them stagnating as they struggle to find the correct solution. This is what makes feedback actionable. They give clear instructions on how to improve their performance.
And of course, it doesn’t work to only do this one time. It must be a continuous process that is both ongoing in nature and consistent in practice. Employees should know what to expect in terms of feedback, so that they know what they can rely on to help drive them farther.
3. Recognition Matters!
Think about the last time someone complimented you. It gave you the warm fuzzies and made your day a little brighter, didn’t it? It’s the same for everyone else, and people who regularly have their contributions recognized are more confident and productive in their work. In fact, this 2013 survey reveals that 83% of the respondents felt that receiving recognition for their work was more rewarding than monetary compensation.
Disclaimer: Just don’t hire Heinrich, or you may be met with unreasonable expectations.
Regular recognition can lead to a better, more productive environment as well. Showing recognition to one individual encourages them to spread the positive reinforcement around, such as by volunteering to help on projects, or by giving further recognition to their coworkers. Because they’re putting so much positive energy into their work, they spread their positivity to their coworkers. Their coworkers spread their positive energy to even more coworkers until the entire office becomes an overwhelming fount of enthusiasm and productiveness.
Of course, all that positive energy won’t stop people from grumbling about the broken coffee maker in the breakroom, but it might motivate them to do something about it themselves.
What else do you think matters to creating a motivated environment? Do you find yourself struggling with any of these issues? Leave a comment below and share your best tips for building a workplace that actually matters.