But how often do we meet someone who cannot wait to go to work on a Monday? Next to rare, right? Why is it so? Why have workplaces turned into torture houses which people dread going to? What are we collectively doing wrong in engaging our employees?
While the whole world is continuously looking for answers, the fundamentals are quite simple. It’s not about compensation, but about basic human emotions.
Turns out, en employer-employee relationship isn’t all that different from a personal relationship. A personal relationship can thrive in the long run on the basis of a few parameters – trust, fairness, and empathy. Unfortunately, the cutthroat world of professionalism does not pay heed to these simple elements. But these are what is needed to make employees happy at work, says Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place to Work.
Trust and respect
No matter what the values of a company are, without mutual trust and respect everything is automatically nullified. Unless and until employees feel like they can be trusted with a job, a project or with a laptop even, they cannot bring their whole selves to work. Just like a person will never be in a long term relationship with someone they do not intrinsically trust or vice versa.
According to Bush, organizations should start having a higher level of trust to make their employees feel secure and happy. Make employees feel like their ideas are worthy of experimentation and what they are thinking is great for the company. With such a high level of trust bestowed, employees go that extra mile to deliver some of the world’s best service.
No relationship can be a one-way street where the more powerful person dominates and one just surrenders. Even if such a relationship exists, the person on the receiving end is bound to be unhappy. Because people need a space where they feel equal and being treated fairly. Otherwise, it is a lost game.
If employees are treated unfairly, they will lose trust as sand escaping your grip. Regardless of an employee’s rank, age or tenure, they want to be treated fairly. Bush talks about Salesforce as a great example of a fair company. When they found that men and women working in the same job were being paid differently, they immediately invested three million dollars to correct it out.
The art of listening
I personally feel listening is the most underrated leadership trait. People who can lend an empathetic ear to others are always more liked and respected. Listening is a great way of connecting with all kinds of people but requires a big heart and a lot of patience. Listening means being humble and allowing the other person to express at his or her own pace, offering a feeling of psychological safety, and not judging or suggesting ways unless asked for. Employees should feel like they have the scope of expressing if they feel like, they should feel like they have someone who will listen to them.
Active listening requires careful observation and putting oneself in the employee’s shoes to focus on. This would entail preparing open-ended questions and be listening intently to what the employee has to say. Taking a step back and not trying to dominate the conversation with too much advice or judgments is a must. At the same time, be active to understand where the employee is himself asking for some guidance.
Having happy employees in the workplace ultimately falls down to human interactions and emotions. A lot needs to be done to focus on these basic elements, a lot of unlearning will happen in the process. But change has to happen, and once people think before they act, small things can go a long way.
Watch the full video of Michael C. Bush here.