At Rhythm Systems, some of our team works in the office, but most of us work remotely. As an office worker with the flexibility to work remotely on occasion, I can appreciate the challenge of both settings. In the office, you’ve got the drive by “Do you have a minute?” conversations and the typical water cooler chat that can be distractions, and at home, you’ve got the temptations of family members, pets, domestic work, and your favorite TV show on Netflix vying for your attention. So, which is better?
Rhythm Blog | Employee Engagement
by Patrick Thean and the Rhythm Team
I recently had the pleasure of hearing Tom Hoff, Gallup's Southeast business development leader, speak on employee engagement. He shared some stats from the most recent State of the American Workplace Report that would make any leader sit up and pay attention. Thankfully, he also shared some tips for taking action to help leaders and managers improve employee engagement so you can be on the right side of those stats.
Anyone who has ever had to work in a freezing office, gotten stuck doing a conference call from a busy airport or coffee shop, or sat at a dark desk buried under a mountain of paperwork knows that your physical environment can have a major impact on your job performance and productivity.
Here are some considerations for designing your most productive office space:
Bloomberg recently published an article touting the benefits of “Summer Fridays” - “It’s a cheap and easy way to keep employees happy, since no one is really working then anyway.” Workplace flexibility - like the ability to head to the beach instead of to the office on a hot summer Friday - is one way companies are competing to attract top talent.
And, they are on to something - flexible work schedules are becoming more important not just for attracting, but also for keeping Millennials and women engaged and productive. According to a Gallup study, flexible work schedules result in higher levels of well-being and employee engagement.
My husband used to coach a 3- and 4-year-old soccer team (the “Gorillas”) at our neighborhood YMCA. If you’ve never watched toddlers play soccer, it is pretty hilarious. I remember one game, someone walked by the sidelines with a puppy, and every player on both teams ran off the field in the middle of the game to pet it! I also remember one game where little Petunia with her precious braided pig tails was the goal keeper (the kids rotated so everyone had a chance to be the goalie at least once in the season). A particularly big, fast kid from the other team kicked the ball right to her, and she quickly moved out of the way, turned to watch it go in the goal, and then clapped! “We scored!”
As noted in my prior blog, “To Assess Productivity & Engagement, Ask: Who Really Owns Your Company?,” if you want to increase productivity, you’re going to have to work with both parts of the productivity equation: Efficiency + People = Higher Levels of Productivity. Your goal is to create a culture where the people in your company should be engaged to do what they do best, at their highest level, every single day. Otherwise, you’ll never move the needle much on increasing productivity. We’ve seen recent examples, though, of what happens when you let rules or process run your company. When these things literally own your company, you run the risk of creating a culture that lets policies and procedures dictate just about everything about how your people think and, in the end, the decisions they make.
“I’m tired of all this ‘employee engagement’ stuff. We hire people to do a job, so why can’t they just do it!”
“People keep telling me to just hire more people, but are we maximizing the people we already have?”
“How do we get and then sustain higher levels of productivity?”
Higher levels of productivity. We really do want it to have an easy answer. We want it to just happen, almost magically as a part of everyday life. We try and try to target it by providing increasingly efficient processes and procedures. We buy new and updated equipment, and we invest in the latest and greatest technology—our people will be so appreciative!
At Rhythm Systems, our CEO, Patrick Thean, is fond of the saying, "The fish rots from the head down." When you are thinking about your team's productivity and employee engagement, realize that you lead by example. Gallup has found that employees working for engaged leadership are almost 60% more likely to be engaged than those who don't. As a CEO, you have a lot of demands on your time, but managing your day effectively so that you are productive and engaged has a huge ripple effect on your employees.
I did some research on how successful CEOs spend their days. Hopefully, these suggestions from other CEOs can help you plan your most effective daily routine.
In all the brow-beat talk about “those high maintenance Millennials!,” we might consider shifting the conversation. What may well be needed is a move away from the all the expressive angst of having to deal with Millennials toward a strategic understanding of how to get the most from them while they’re in your employment. This isn’t to minimize the frustrations you may have, but turn and look the other direction—through the window of opportunity.
One thing I really appreciate about Millennials is that they’re holding Baby Boomers (who are having to lead them in the workplace) accountable for what they said was most valued: Time with family, time for a life, etc. To honor those values, Baby Boomers exhausted themselves raising their little Millennials—always on two wheels. Millennials saw that, and the insanity of it all. So no wonder they want more work-life balance.
In many fast-growing mid-market companies, departments and teams do their work with little time or effort spent communicating with other departments or teams. What’s the harm as long as everyone is getting their work done? According to an article in Forbes, this “silo mentality... will reduce efficiency in the overall operation, reduce morale, and may contribute to the demise of a productive company culture.” These silos also have a negative impact on customer satisfaction and can kill innovation, according to an HBR article. This article also points out that “the bigger the company the more harmful a role silos play.” So, the time to step back and evaluate whether your have silos and take the time to fix them is now.