Leadership and Workplace Culture

There’s a lot of focus right now on increasing wages and that’s good but it’s not everything.

This week there was another report of wages being raised at some other companies. A segment on PBS Newshour told about Aetna Insurance raising wages for some of their employees along with some other companies. The segment also said raising wages increases productivity and morale plus reduce turnover. Reducing turnover helps to reduce costs for organizations. Raising wages provides organizations with more skilled applicants. Aetna thought it would also improve their customer service by having more informed and involved employees who were not spending time worrying about their personal finances.

All those things about increasing productivity and morale do happen with increased wages but usually for the short term. The enthusiasm eventually wears off and more things need to happen to maintain the passion and zeal. It takes a combination of money and other things for the long term.

A couple of weeks ago, we blogged about retail needing to create a different culture but ALL workplaces need to address their culture. Some workplaces may be the very best place to work but if they don’t re-visit how the organization is perceived, things can change and they can change fast. Leadership changes can create a different environment. Employees, too, can make a different workplace.

Earlier in the year, Deloitte released its findings on how millennials perceive their workplace. There were over 7,000 online responses from those in 29 countries. The responses were very similar. Millennials want their workplaces to focus more on individual and society needs. They think organizations become too focused on profits and not enough on the human element. When asked what they expected of leaders, the top responses were strategic thinking(39%), inspirational(37%), inter-personal skills(34%), visionary(31%) and a tie: passionate and decisive(30%). All these help to define the culture. When it came to what millennials saw senior leadership actually doing and what millennials thought were more important there was a huge divide.

It’s not millennials think there shouldn’t be a focus on profit and the financial well being of an organization, they do, but it shouldn’t be the top priority. The priority should start with the human element and society. The other will occur because of embracing a culture that shows some interest and cares.

In the December, 2014, issue of Psychology Today, an article cited another survey of more than 200,000 employees in over 500 organizations. Money was not the major motivator in the survey. The top four motivational items included camaraderie, desire to do a good job, being recognized and supported for a good job, and making an impression in the work of the organization. Money was the seventh item out of a list of 10 items.

The survey wasn’t from any particular classification of workers. It was a good cross-section from organizations. There were enough responses to validate all classifications had the same responses.

As the author pointed out, all the items that came out higher were about workplace culture and management shapes the culture of the organization.

Wages going up does help but the culture makes a lasting impression. Is the culture responding to what employees deem as important? Is the organization creating an environment that says the efforts of all employees are valued and their efforts are recognized? Does the organization involve employees in partnership to work on workplace issues and include them in the decision-making process? Is the organization willing to allow risk-taking?

If the answer is yes to all those questions, then it must be a great place to work! The investment in pay increases and creating a positive work environment should be paying off in great rewards for both employees and the organization!

There are complaints out there about millennials and their younger counterparts. Some of the complaints may be valid but some of them may help all of us. If the millennials from the Deloitte survey can make an impression on changing leaders and changing workplace culture then it sounds like their on the right track!

For more information in creating a positive workplace culture, see the short webinar on Employee Engagement on the CALMC website at CALMC-On-Demand: http://calmc.org/

The links for the Deloitte survey, the PBS Newshour segment and the Psychology Today article are below.




About CALMC Blog

Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to involving employers and employees to preserve jobs, resolve workplace issues, and promote labor-management cooperation. Visit our website at http://calmc.org
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