In one of my previous organizations, it was a common water-cooler discussion about how the environment of the office has changed. People lamented “It is not the same what used to be earlier”. “I remember the time when we used to have fun at work. Now every morning I groan that I have to go to office” “Nowadays people do not even smile at each other. Even the office fun activities which we have seems to be crafted and directed by the senior management and we are forced to participate”
What went wrong ? What changed ? Now when I contemplate about it, I think I know the answer. The employees did not “belong” to the organization anymore. They were just placeholders. Just as protein is needed in the diet for the health of the body, the feeling of “belonging” is a basic need for the mind and soul. At home. At work.
According to me , here are a couple of things which the organization’s leadership should do increase the belongingness of their associates
- The “Fun” activities should be driven by the employees – I remember the times when we formed a small drama society in our office. We used to cut back on our lunch hour and practice and rehearse and conduct shows. It was a huge success and I still receive notes from people (most of them have left the organization) about the fun we had. The people in this group are still a strong virtual community.
- Ignite creativity by encouraging failure : Innovations happen in an atmosphere where people can work fearlessly. Yes, people will fail. And these failures will strengthen the culture of creativity. And even when he fails , the attempt to create is lauded , the fears will vanish and someday something great will be created. It is guaranteed. And the bond with the employee becomes like steel.
- Think Employees : The buzzword today is “employees first” . It is your employees who create the organization. They are the faces to the customers. Cultivate them. Make them your partners. Have you tried being transparent with them ? Are you treating them fairly ? have you told them your problem ? I have seen magic happen when I have told about a grave situation about the project and the team have forgotten their own and have worked night and day to recover the situation. Smilingly. Without anything extra. With alacrity. Make them your ally. And see the change !
- Initial touch points matter : When a person comes for an interview he faces a couple of moments of truths. Is the appointment happening on time? Is the interviewer smiling and asking whether he wants tea or coffee? In case he is waiting, what does he read ? In my own experience, a magazine or a newsletter , created by the employees themselves acts as a very good method to start the bonding even at that stage. And even if he is not recruited, he goes back as an ambassador of the organization
- Build Trust And stick with it : It is not easy. Just like Rome, trust cannot be built in a day. The leader has to be persistent. He will have to walk the talk. Just like in one of my earlier blogs, trust will definitely ECHO. Yes, there will be non-believers. There will be cynical people. But as long as the organizational leadership repeatedly raise the issue of trust and be strong advocates of it, perseverance will win.
All of us crave to “belong”. If this feeling is enhanced, the employees will go the extra mile with a heightened level of ownership. Win their commitment. And see your business boom !