6 Simple Ways to Be an Employee-Centric Workplace

In the fervor to attract and retain top talent, companies from startups to conglomerates have stepped up the game by offering bigger, better, quirkier perks and benefits. It doesn’t seem too incredible to expect that someday soon one of the more prosperous companies will market itself to job prospects as the equivalent experience of an all-inclusive cruise ship.

From in-house barbershops to bringing in dogs to the slides (no, not PowerPoint slides… playground slides), these wild and wacky benefits and perks are widely publicized. We can assume that job seekers and employees have noticed the hoopla.

That’s a boon for the larger corporations that can afford to adorn their benefits and perks with bells and whistles. But even if you’re a small- to medium-sized business, you don’t need to feel discouraged or outmatched.

Anyone who is accomplished enough to be considered “talent” is smart enough to know that fringe benefits and perks aren’t everything. They aren’t the determining factor to accepting a certain job position.

In fact, so many variables exist for someone to want to leave their job and take on a new one that it’s nearly impossible to nail down exactly what it is that employees want. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

What Employees Want

What all people have in common is that they’re human, and as such they share basic needs and desires. These are things like safety, belonging, respect, esteem, sense of community, and so forth. (Psychologist have created a large body of work on human needs.) Food is considered one of the foundational human needs, which – as you’ll see later – is very striking.

It occurred to us that people try to actualize these needs at work just as much as at home. When you consider these needs, it’s can be easier for employers to understand employees’ desires for certain workplace benefits and perks. Meeting these needs can help employees feel more comfortable and happy in their jobs. 

Think This Doesn’t Apply to Your Business?

If you think your employees are “just fine” and satisfied with their work and work environment, we’d like to gently draw your attention to a 2018 study on employee engagement: 

“About 4 out of 10 employees at any given point in time are having a less than positive experience in how they are led, inspired, rewarded, recognized, developed and enabled.” 
– Ken Oehler, Global Culture & Engagement Practice Leader at AON 

And if you’re wondering what the big deal is about that, let’s look at it in dollar signs. Each disengaged employee costs their organization $2,246 in revenue per year. This makes sense, since revenue is associated with customers, and customers experience your business through the employees. Unhappy employees equal unhappy customers, who don’t spend their money with your business. Enough said. 

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Meeting People’s Needs Leads to Engagement

So much is written and discussed about employee engagement and – on a larger scale – the employee experience. Yet we’d like to suggest that these topics aren’t as complicated as they seem to be.

By addressing the basics needs of employees at work, we believe you can ramp up the trust and consideration at your company, creating better morale and more motivation. In the long run, this goes a long way toward keeping employees engaged, improving their overall experience.

Of course, we also have some ideas on what areas can be improved – for the benefit of both employees and employers:

 

#1 Technology to Do the Job as Efficiently as Possible

One way to show employees that they are respected and valued is to give them the tools they need to do their jobs quickly and effectively. Expecting employees to perform repetitive and mundane tasks that can be accomplished through newer technology and automation is senseless and defeating. If you’ve ever had to struggle with your job duties using sub-standard tools, you can understand the frustration. 

The Millennials generation is filling up the workforce, and Generation Z has just started to enter it. Gen Z is the first generation to have grown up entirely in the online world, and it’s estimated that by 2020 they will make up 36 percent of the global workforce. Companies needs to adopt better technology to satisfy these digital natives. The Mills and Zs are too tech savvy to get any job satisfaction from being hobbled to outdated software or platforms.

By investing in technology to make employees’ experiences better and their jobs easier, you show them you appreciate their skills, talents, intelligence, and time. You empower them to focus their efforts on higher-level initiatives that not only improve their own value, but your company’s value.

#2 Supporting Teamwork and Collaboration

Whether it’s within a team or across teams, there is always room to improve communication and collaboration. In a 2018 article, Effectory published these statistics to support their statement that workplace collaboration can be tricky to get right:

85% of employees are satisfied with their colleagues. 

78% of colleagues work together well within teams.
        BUT… this number drops to 47% when you look at satisfaction between teams.

… also… 

70% of employees say they can get the information they need from within their team.
        BUT just 58% are able to do so between teams.

While using technology to streamline communication is all well and good, many companies have begun to encourage less emailing and IMing in favor of face-to-face conversations. Although some conversations feel awkward face-to-face, being able to include verbal nuances and body language in the conversation means there’s less likelihood of misunderstandings. 

Another way that companies are bringing employees together to encourage inter- and intra-teamwork is by providing lunch on a daily basis. By sitting down together in the middle of the day, employees can get to know each other on a less formal basis. Food is something that we all have in common, and that implicit truth can help smooth over many difficulties and create new bonds. 

Employees who don’t normally interact at work might have a casual conversation that leads to a new idea or better understanding. Teams that are wary of each other may find they have more similarities than differences. 

#3 Emphasizing Diversity and Inclusion

Multiple studies have made it evident that inclusion and diversity enhance employee performance because their teams are more original, engaged, and inspired in their work. In fact, Deloitte has stated that 

“companies with inclusive talent practices in leadership, development, promotion and other departments generate up to 30% higher revenue than their competitors.”

Of course, it’s crucial that “taking action” to hire and retain a diverse workforce doesn’t mean hanging up a poster in the break room. The 30% higher revenue mentioned above was realized only by companies with the most mature talent management practices. Along with such practices, these companies developed high-level strategies to reinforce the importance of bringing in people of diverse backgrounds and behaving in inclusive ways.

In such companies, there is a connection between diversity and employee engagement that researchers believe is based on the trust that is cultivated in the organization and teams. By solidifying this trust with employees, employers can reap the benefits.

Employees also benefit, of course. They have the satisfaction of working for a business that carries through on its stated values, feeling confident that their employer will make the right decisions.

#4 Reinforcing Employee Health and Wellness

A person’s health is directly correlated to that person’s performance and productivity as an employee. Obvious, right? Healthier employees are less likely to take sick days, can work at a steadier pace, and so forth. 

Employees would like some help in the area of wellness. A 2018 survey showed that one in two employees want their company to place a greater focus on well-being. Thirteen percent gave their company a grade that was below average in addressing health and wellness. 

The same survey identified a “commitment to health and wellbeing” as one of three factors that employees and job candidates are seeking in a company. (The other two are “permanent workplace flexibility” and “working with a purpose”.)

Employees are often the recipient of sponsored gym memberships, smoking cessation programs, and the like. However, employers don’t always lead well by example or don’t follow through with logical steps that reflect the desire for better health. One example is the prevalence of processed and packaged food in the employee lunchroom. Another example is regularly demanding overtime hours. 

There’s a difference between a company that offers health programs erratically and indifferently, while others have what Forbes writer Alan Kohll refers to as a “culture of wellness.” Such employers provide year-round initiatives like wellness challenges, onsite health screenings, and regular lunch-and-learn sessions. 

At a deeper level within the area of wellness is mental health. Supporting employees with afflictions like anxiety, addiction, and depression can go a long way toward reducing absenteeism and boosting retention and engagement. 

“Candidates, especially Millennials, need to know you’re a company that really cares about its employees if they’re even going to consider applying.”

– Harrison Doan, Director of Analytics at Saatva

#5 Demonstrating Values Through Community Care

Employees want to know that their employer sincerely cares for issues outside of the almighty dollar. This has always been the case, but the Mills and the Zs have been able to share their ideas, opinions, and visions faster and easier than previous generations by using social media.

In a recent article in Entrepreneur, the writer succinctly stated, “Younger workers prefer companies with missions that align with their values.” It’s a very broad statement, but it’s also supported by a study from Glassdoor, which states that 75% of employees aged 18 – 34 “expect their employer to take a stand on important social issues […].”

While some companies may not see the sense in supporting the political or polarizing issues of the day, taking care of the surrounding community through charities and other activities will always be viewed positively. It’s not a new or novel trend, though it did experience a resurgence after the recession of 2008.

In 2017, AT&T conducted a small survey of 5,000 and reported that 76% support small, local businesses. The survey found that restaurants enjoy most of this support (58%), followed by retail stores (40%) and other service-type businesses like hair salons, medical offices, and coffee shops (each 35%).

By soliciting feedback from employees on their community concerns and preferred local businesses or charities – and following up with actions – employers can become a true and engaged member of the community.

The More Things Change…

The employee-employer relationship has changed radically from the first Industrial Revolution. We are entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution (the fourth major industrial era) and are constantly besieged by terms such as AI, IoT, and 3D printing (along with adding “nano,” “quantum,” and “bio” to almost anything remotely technical). You can’t have a conversation about newer businesses, especially involving technology, without hearing the word “disruption.” 

However, as demonstrated by numerous studies, surveys, and articles in the past few years, the employee-employer relationship and how it’s evolving is still big news. We are now entering an employee-centric phase, with most businesses anxious to attract and retain employees who provide value and innovative thinking. 

Despite our technological advances, we believe that humans retain their innate characteristics and needs. They still want to feel appreciated, needed, and respected. They also haven’t changed their desire to connect with others, such as co-workers and the surrounding community. 

#6 … The More We Eat Lunch

If the themes of technology, teamwork, wellness, diversity, and values resonate with you, and you’re looking for a tangible way to improve in these areas, we have a suggestion: 

Invite your employees to eat lunch together every day. 

Besides the benefit of enhancing teamwork by bringing employees together on “neutral” territory to share food and conversation, your company will also demonstrate support for the other areas of wellness, diversity, and values.

Wellness—You can order from restaurants that provide healthy meal options.
Diversity—Food is a small way to introduce the multicultural theme at work. 
Values—You can support local restaurants by ordering from them. 

In 2018, Zenefits surveyed 600 small to mid-sized businesses and reported that free meals and snacks are one of the top five most popular perks. Zenefits also observed that providing this type of perk can give smaller businesses an edge when competing with large, deep-pocketed corporations. 

So how does technology fit into this? If you remember, we covered its role earlier, suggesting that providing the best tech tools for employees to eliminate repetitive and redundant tasks will go a long way toward keeping them happy and engaged. 

Technology now makes it simple and easy for each of your employees to order his or her daily lunch as part of a group order. Before such technology existed, attempting to collect and order lunches on a regular basis often drove office administrators crazy. (Thankfully, no such occurrences have been officially documented and cannot be cited.) 

Every day, an AI-based platform automatically picks a different restaurant based on your employees’ likes and preferences. The office administrator can even set up the system to send orders automatically every day. Adding new employees or changing details is done via a web application. 

Employees even get a meal suggestion based on what they’ve ordered in the past and their likes and preferences. Of course, they can always order something different from the restaurant. It takes employees just minutes to select their orders. If an employee is sick or otherwise not present, no order is taken so no food is wasted. 

Providing lunch on a regular basis is a small gesture, but when repeated over time, it can have a significant effect on workplace satisfaction and office culture. 

More About the Tyme Commerce Food Platform

Tyme Commerce makes it possible for you to make every employee’s day better. It’s an AI food platform that can curate and deliver personalized meals for groups. 

Tyme includes other features to enhance employees’ lives and the business of local restaurants: 

Tyme has created an online, wholesale-to-wholesale marketplace for local restaurants to purchase food from each other. For example, a bakery could sell cookies and other small pastries to a sandwich shop. Supporting this type of commerce opens up an entirely new revenue stream for restaurants and also allows them to add variety to their menu.

Tyme also enables people outside of work to order their meals ahead of time and pick them up from local restaurants. When the food is ready, pickup from a designated area is hassle free with no waiting in line, and payment is handled automatically through Tyme.  

Resources

https://www.zenefits.com/blog/top-rated-fringe-benefits-2018/
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/323924
https://www.hrtechnologist.com/articles/employee-engagement/4-employee-engagement-trends-that-will-rule-2019/
https://www.hrtechnologist.com/articles/employee-engagement/top-3-employee-engagement-trends-for-2019/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinecomaford/2017/07/08/the-surprising-link-between-customer-experience-and-employee-engagement/#551ace8bb512
https://www.effectory.com/knowledge/blog/why-individual-bonuses-can-ruin-your-company-culture/
https://www.adp.com/spark/articles/2018/11/unique-new-employee-benefit-trends-in-the-workplace.aspx
http://www.fsgplus.com/fsgplus/news/hr_insight/201805/P020180515513270762947.pdf
https://www.forbes.com/sites/alankohll/2017/04/06/how-you-can-nurture-a-culture-of-wellness/#46f3e3701525
https://medium.com/@anneloehr/four-ways-to-start-amping-up-your-diversity-and-inclusion-efforts-2112413bad6f
http://www.mtmps.com/cpms/uploads/high-impact-talent-management-white-paper.pdf
https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/corporate-social-responsibility/
https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/business/trends-and-insights/articles/power-buying-locally/
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:B6y2RdG0PP8J:about.att.com/newsroom/small_biz_trends_survey.html+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs
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