Getting employees involved and happy to be at work is an important part of being a boss or manager. But how can you get them involved? And how can you maintain that sense of involvement over time? This article is all about creating your workplace involvement culture.
There are proven ways of creating an involvement culture at work, and none of them are too difficult. It’s just a matter of committing yourself and your office to the principle of involvement, and then sticking to that principle. It also helps if you include statements addressing the importance of involvement in your company’s mission statement and employee handbook.
If you’re looking for quick ways to initiate an involvement culture, here are five easy tips to get you started:
Start an involvement culture by…
1. Organizing social gatherings
Yes, they’re your colleagues, not your friends, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t hang out socially. Non-office-related gatherings help people get to know each other, creating bonds and a sense of camaraderie that extends far beyond the gathering itself. These can be sit-down gatherings at restaurants or coffeeshops, or they can be recreational gatherings, like volleyball matches, group hikes, or a night out at the movies. Think about organizing them at random times, as well, not just during the holidays – when everyone expects to have parties. These are special events, but they can be at any time of day or any time of the year. The goal is to get people talking, interacting, and learning about each other.
2. Encourage feedback
Employees have plenty of opinions and ideas, and it just makes good business sense to listen to them. After all, wouldn’t you rather they told you these opinions directly than post them anonymously on Glassdoor.com? Have a system in place for gathering and discussing feedback. Perhaps, you can send out surveys or have a comment box. Perhaps, you can arrange a regular meeting where employees are encouraged to bring their ideas for improving the business and the workplace. Whatever you do, make sure that everyone is invited and that no one is left out. It’s important if you’re creating a culture of involvement that everyone feels involved, not just a lucky few. Encouraging feedback helps both the employees themselves and the business as a whole, since no one knows the company inside and out like the employees do, and often, they can be your best consultants. It’s truly a win-win situation.
Another way to initiate involvement culture in the workplace: The old switcheroo
3. Consider job switching
Some companies, like Honda, do this regularly – having employees literally stand in others shoes for a while. Having people try out other people’s jobs give them a sense of what their colleagues are going through, what they deal with every day, and why they might behave the way they do. It also lets employees see things with new eyes, which can bring about change in the workplace. If you haven’t been doing a job for a long time, you might have a different perspective than someone who has been in that position for the last 10 years and has a comfortable routine. Job switching can be fun – almost like a mini-vacation for those involved in it. Don’t just switch horizontally, either. You can also switch employees up and down the vertical corporate ladder, with managers working on the line and assembly people taking their turn at managing. Do it for an hour, a day, a week – whatever works in your particular business. You might be surprised at the ideas, suggestions, and changes that come about, and in the meantime you get a little cross-training done. And more than anything, you’ve gotten your employees involved in the workplace in ways they’ve never been before.
4. Give bonuses and rewards
Many businesses don’t give bonuses and rewards to employees, figuring that their salaries are enough. Studies have shown, however, that employees respond well to positive encouragement, including financial bonuses, recognition, gifts, and other rewards. To make them meaningful, be sure that employees know exactly why they’re getting them and what they’ve done to deserve them. Also, make sure that you publicize throughout the company how they can get them in the future. Put an article in your newsletter or post information on the employee section of your website so that employees know exactly how they can get in on the game. This creates a positive morale and encourages employees to do their best. Also, strive to recognize all employees in small ways regularly, so that no one feels left out. The worst thing that can happen with a rewards system is that people who don’t ever get them grow resentful and stop doing their best work. Transparency and regularity are key: let people know what you’re doing and why, and give them multiple opportunities to get recognized for the good things they do in the workplace. There’s nothing like a carrot here and there to make employees feel like they’re an important part of the team.
5. Develop a charity program
Giving back to the community is an important part of corporate responsibility, and encouraging employees to be actively involved in charities and community work also helps them feel like they’re an important part of the business. Consider developing a program that rewards employees for giving back to the community, perhaps by recognizing the hours they work with donations to the charities of their choice. You might also consider setting aside time during work days for community service or pro bono work. Although it wouldn’t seem to directly benefit your business, in fact, letting people give back to the community makes them feel more actively involved in your business. They feel more valuable, and that their time is worth something. The other benefit for your business is that the community will recognize your business as a responsible corporate citizen. Before starting a charity program, study those run by other companies and talk with your employees about what they would like to see. You’re creating an involvement culture, so it just makes sense to check with your employees first.