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Monday, 21 February 2022 09:37

Six key steps to creating a desirable workplace

By Jean Scott, people and culture manager at Somerville
Jean Scott, People and Culture Manager at Somerville Jean Scott, People and Culture Manager at Somerville

GUEST OPINION: Amid an ongoing shortage of talent and disruptions to normal office life, many Australian IT organisations are considering how best to create a desirable and productive workplace.

This trend comes at a challenging time when many staff are continuing to work from home while others have adopted a hybrid approach to their roles. In light of the ongoing pandemic, these changes are likely to become permanent.

At the same time, senior leaders need to find ways to maintain productivity and levels of customer service. They need to ensure staff are happy, motivated, and ready to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

Achieving the goal of creating a desirable workplace requires six key steps. They are:

1. Solid Leadership

Regardless of the size of an organisation, it’s important that its senior leaders be respected. Many people end up resigning because they don’t believe in their managers however, if they connect with them, they’re likely to stay for the long haul.

Solid leaders also recognise that they don’t have unbounded knowledge, and their approach must be to surround themselves with people who are smarter than they are themselves. As Apple founder Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

A good leader is an employee’s support person, guide, coach, and mentor – not their control person. They steer in them in the right direction, let them make mistakes, and (importantly) learn from them.

2. Have the “right” people in your business

It’s important to hire people who not only have the required skills, but also share the organisation’s dream and vision. These people will see something within the organisation that’s ‘calling out their name’.

The right people will be passionate, have a strong work ethic, and have their own goals in life. They will be good at communicating, display flexibility, and be open to change.

Leaders should take time to recruit those who have a mindset to learn and, grow. This is far more important than whether they are young, old, tall, height challenged or have a different ethnicity.

Also, leaders should not conduct recruitment interviews in a boring and very structured manner. Running through a series of tired old questions will never highlight how excited and passionate people in the workplace actually are.

The people in an organisation also need to be its biggest fans. If they’re not, it’s likely they are not (or are no longer) the right person for that business.

3. Communicate the state of play

When a department, people and business are prospering and things are going well, it’s clear that everyone is doing something right. At these times, it’s important to share success and celebrate achievements. People will feel inspired and keen for more of the same.

When things are not going so well, it’s important not to hide this from staff as they need to understand the situation fully. If they don’t, they can’t be expected to make sound decisions, turn things around and improve operations.

Leaders should communicate effectively, state the facts, set clear expectations, seek the thoughts of staff members, and reassure them that more positive conditions lie ahead.

4. Involve teams in decision making… and trust them

In a desirable workplace, team members will be trusted not only to run their own gig well, but also to offer their knowledge and guidance on decisions that impact the business as a whole.

Many staff are likely to be more in touch with the market than their managers and so they should be regularly consulted for their opinions and ideas. This will keep staff members thinking, engaged, and actively contributing to the organisation’s success.

5. Recognise and reward

Successful businesses are those that let their staff know they are appreciated. They should be regularly thanked, and their wins celebrated. Unfortunately, leaders don’t always take the time to do this however, when they do, the vibe that results is fantastic.

Also, if the business can support it, there should be a process in place that remunerates fairly once a year. If a member of staff isn’t in line for even a modest pay increase, it shouldn’t be a surprise to them as this would have been flagged with them in honest conversations during the year.

6. Have fun!
Finally, because everyone is part of a ‘connected’ team, it’s important to have fun together and laugh. It lightens the load and is a sign of a mature, enabled culture. If you’re not having fun, get out. You only live once.

By following these steps, organisations can readily create a desirable workplace. This will support both staff and senior leaders as well as provide support for strong ongoing business.

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