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Published 11 October 2012 04:14, Updated 12 November 2012 23:44
Bad behaviour hurts in more ways than one. 50 per cent of employees who are victims of unlawful workplace behaviour and 35 per cent of employees who observe unlawful behaviour report reduced productivity.
It appears happiness at work is decreasing. An International Social Survey Program shows Australia is near the bottom of a list of 35 countries and the worst among English-speaking nations for job satisfaction.
Long hours, doing more with less and the reluctance of organisations to raise salaries is driving employees to look for jobs that offer more of a life outside the office. Reward, recognition and challenge are cited as reasons to seek new jobs, alongside the financial stress of increased costs of living.
Happiness at work is important to me. RedBalloons for Corporate helps organisations reward and recognise their teams for work well done. It doesn’t take an investment of millions to capture the imagination and loyalty of your people.
First, stop linking rewards and money.
Every human resources manager I meet tells me they know cash doesn’t work as an incentive but they also say they’re too scared to take it off the table. If you’re paying people fairly for what they do, you have room to get creative with your recognition.
Don’t let cash become your easy option. In the long term, cash programs do not make commercial sense.
About four years ago I was speaking with the HR manager of a large publicly listed company with 15,000 employees. Management decided to celebrate a certain business result by giving each employee a $1000 bonus.
The human resources manager told me it was the single worst HR decision it had ever made. He said people were upset and became unmotivated. The highly paid didn’t noticed the bonus in their bank accounts – those who were part of a workplace agreement had shop stewards arrive demanding next year’s productivity bonus. The worst part, he told me, was the complaints, such as: “She was on maternity leave she wasn’t even here for most of the year. Why should she get the same amount?”
This HR manager admitted there was so much backstabbing and unrest over the bonus, it damaged the culture and it has taken years to recover.
A well-intentioned $15 million spend, instead of motivating people became a disaster for employee culture and motivation. Worse, a recent national survey of 5000 employees found that linking pay with performance created tournaments between people. These tournaments encouraged inappropriate behaviour such as bullying in the workplace, resulting in a risk to employees and employer reputation.
The survey by professional services firm Risk to Business also found that 50 per cent of employees who were victims of unlawful workplace behaviour reported reduced productivity, while 35 per cent of employees who observed unlawful behaviour also reported reduced productivity.
Second, make your values valuable.
Get clear on your values and recruit on them. A company’s reputation and brand is the No. 1 attribute that drives interest from job seekers. Negative work culture is voted most likely to tarnish a brand.
Given that one-third of people will decide in the first month of employment when they plan to leave that job, it is imperative that employers really set expectations and manage them before people commit to a role.
Organisations simply cannot over-promise and under-deliver. People want to believe in the business they are joining. Transparency and authenticity are critical to that. The first days and weeks in a new role are critical in fulfilling what people believe the brand promise is. Managing those expectations on the way in is important.
Third, please, say thank you.
I’ve come to realise that happiness – whether it’s in our workplace or personal – is tied to what we do, not what we have. And happiness is intrinsically tied to gratitude. You can choose to be thankful and happy, or you can choose to be ungrateful and unhappy.
A thank you at work costs little – your time and eye contact at the very least. When we showed our big red toolkit to a recent, independent, focus group of HR managers the response was immediate: “Love the thank you cards”; “I can give this to every manager and they can choose when and how to use it”; “I like the spontaneity of it – it is something a bit different that is not just monetary value.”
How difficult can a thank you be? I challenge you to authentically thank five people today. Let me know how you go at the fivethanksaday.org website.
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