In a breakthrough presentation at TINYcon 2018, Collegewise founder Kevin McMullin shared statistics about the effects of an engaged workforce. According to Gallup data cited in the presentation, “An engaged workplace has 37% lower absenteeism, 25% lower turnover, 10% higher customer metrics, and 22% higher profitability.” That last stat would catch the interest of any people manager. But how does an organization go about building a more engaged workplace?
Anne Helen Petersen (@annehelen), Senior Culture Writer and Western Correspondent for Buzzfeed, took to Twitter to ask, “what's a small thing that your employer or manager has implemented or changed that has made the experience of work easier/better/less shitty/less of an exhausting nightmare slog?”
What's a small thing that your employer or manager has implemented or changed that has made the experience of work easier/better/less shitty/less of an exhausting nightmare slog?— Anne Helen Petersen (@annehelen) October 3, 2019
The Tweet generated hundreds of responses, all with valuable feedback for employers to consider. In this blog post, we’ll go over some of the best responses, and the key takeaways for employers.
In response to Petersen’s question, Twitter user @trumwill says, “Letting me time shift by an hour, reducing my round trip commute from 3 hours to 2.”
Letting me time shift by an hour, reducing my round trip commute from 3 hours to 2.— Will Truman (@trumwill) October 3, 2019
Similarly, @specksioneer says, “No longer worrying about employees being late. Come in late then just stay longer.”
No longer worrying about employees being late. Come in late then just stay longer.— Alan (@specksioneer) October 3, 2019
An estimated 80% of U.S. companies offer flexible arrangements, such as flexible start times and work from home days. If your organization is too inflexible in that area, it may negatively impact company culture and employee retention rates.
A more casual dress code
In addition to work from home days, many employees appreciate a relaxed dress code. User @amandaelsewhere says, “One day out of the blue my employer announced we could work from home whenever we wanted and that there’d be no dress code (aside from like, don’t wear offensive t-shirts) in the office. It’s made things SO NICE."
One day out of the blue my employer announced we could work from home whenever we wanted and that there'd be no dress code (aside from like, don't wear offensive t-shirts) in the office. It's made things SO NICE.— Amanda Patterson (@amandaelsewhere) October 3, 2019
As many as half of U.S. organizations allow casual dress every day of the week. Depending on your organization’s industry, dress code might not be this flexible. But in cases where employees aren’t doing client-facing work, allowing appropriate casual dress can make your employees happier.
Twitter user @kylejlock replies, “A gym in the office that we are encouraged to use during the day with no guilt-trip about wasting work time.”
A gym in the office that we are encouraged to use during the day with no guilt-trip about wasting work time.— Kyle (@kylejlock) October 3, 2019
While not every company can afford an onsite gym, many organizations simply cover memberships to local gyms for interested employees. This small step goes a long way toward building a culture of wellness, which can have a significant impact on your employees’ productivity and satisfaction.
No “working off the clock”
Twitter user @LastGreatAct says that “No emails on weekends or evenings past 8pm” is a good policy.
No emails on weekends or evenings past 8pm.— LastAct (@LastGreatAct) October 3, 2019
If your organization sends emails or Slack messages to employees outside working hours, they may feel obligated to read and respond, even though they’re not at work. This creates a more stressful culture, where employees may feel they’re never truly off the clock.
For positions that don’t require on-call time, expecting employees to always answer the phone outside of work hours is even more intrusive, and can result in legal action.
Improving organizational culture in this area can be as simple as waiting until the next day to send that email, but you should also set clear expectations for employees regarding after-hours communication.
Key takeaways for employers
Flexible hours, access to exercise, an easygoing dress code, consideration for employees’ personal time — what do all of these things have in common?
People want their employers to be more flexible and show that they care about employees.
McMullin points out in his presentation that engagement is what drives employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity. In order to get the effort you want out of your employees, you have to put effort in, too. But he also cautions against viewing that effort as a cost.
“Investment in a human is a deposit, it’s not an expense,” he says. “You’re going to get a lot back from that. These peak moments accrue interest.”
Every workplace is different, and requires different engagement initiatives. But these responses to Petersen’s tweet illustrate the fact that little changes can have a big impact.
Want to learn more about building an engaged workforce? Download the 2019 Employee Engagement Report.