With Christmas around the corner and most of us taking some well-earned time off work, I have been thinking about happiness at work and what it is that makes a difference when we return full of beans and ready for the new year ahead as opposed to dreading our return to work.
Holiday and Monday Blues are luckily a relatively rare thing in my current role, but there are times when thoughts of work makes me feel heavy too.
By thinking about what it is that is not working when a return to work feels heavy, I have come to the conclusion that whilst my list is not exhaustive, these are eight areas that play a part if ‘The Blues’ come knocking and some suggestions as to what you might do to make those areas run smoother:
- Be clear about what is expected from your employees – seek buy-in from them (negotiate if necessary) that they are working towards realistic and achievable goals. To be successful they need to know what success looks like!
- Ensure that employees are clear in their communication with their peers; how do they prefer to be communicated with; what do they feel falls within their area of expertise; what time-lines can they commit to?
- Consider ‘Huddles’ – it is important for employees to know how the company is doing and to have an opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns. Knowledge is power!
- Make room for communication – virtual or otherwise – encourage colleagues to meet, speak and build professional networks– share their own experiences; offer and gain support and learn from each other.
- Ask your ‘doers’ how process can be improved – learn from them and act on feedback.
- Trust employees to carry out tasks using their own creativity, skills and judgement. In the words of OnTrack’s CEO Kevin Johnson “Why do we hire people and then do their job for them?”
- Provide employees with the right tools to be successful– ensure they can access the right information at the right time (Knowledge management)
- If required, consider options to cover skills-gaps in consultation with your employees – allow and encourage time for learning and CPD.
Trust & Integrity
- Employees need to feel trusted and respected.
- Empower and encourage employees to treat their customers with integrity
- Managers, Leaders and Co-workers need to say what they will do and do what they say.
- Employees at all levels need their managers and leaders to lead by example
- Ensure employees have access to experienced colleagues for advice and support when needed (Coaches, Mentors or Subject Matter Experts)
- Encourage employees to have a voice
- Listen to them
- Respond to them
- Involve employees (if at all possible) in decisions that will affect them directly
Job Security and/or a Career path
- Employees need to see a future within the organisation
- Involve them in conversations about their future – be it a promotion, a sideways move or a reassurance that they are doing fine and that their role is not going away.
- Employees need to feel that any time-commitment during out-of-work hours is valued
- Make it easy for employees to log and request any lieu time they are entitled to
- Offer virtual & remote working – where feasible
- Offer core hours of work – where feasible
- Consider showers & changing rooms at work – encourage and allow exercise during the commute or at lunch-time breaks
- Employees need to feel that they matter as individuals
- Make time to find out who they are – inside & outside of work
- Ask the question ‘How are you?’ and listen to the answer – take action if required
- Explore employees metaphorical ‘iceberg’ – understand how their at-work behaviours are more often than not underpinned by the under-the-surface chunk of the ‘berg’ (which could be everything and anything going on in their private lives)
In today’s modern society a life-time career within the same organisation is less common than in the past, it is therefore important that employers look at effective ways to retain its talent. To avoid skilled workers from moving elsewhere, employers need to consider ways of supporting its employees and their wellbeing at work.
A skilled management and leadership team in touch with their emotional intelligence, a fit-for-purpose knowledge management system and a focus on options available around work-life balance is a good start.
As employees, it is equally important that we ask for the tools we need to allow us to be happier and more effective at work.