THE IMPACT OF EMBRACING A POSITIVE WORKPLACE COMMUNITY

Prepared by Gao Yang

” This is actually a report that I wrote back in the fall of 2012 while I was pursuing a business management degree.  It is a report—not an article, with a strong emphasis on work-relations and organizational development that can be broadly applied to any group setting.”—remarks from the author

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Purposes of the Report

According to surveying companies of the Dolan Technologies Corp, voluntary turnover rates have been on the rise (Turnover, 2012).  This report is not intended to cure high turnover rates, but it highlights how businesses can sustain their current staff by exercising standard values and staff development.  Readers should separate the characteristics of community development from individual development.  This report also cites the success of Google as an example on how to embrace community in the workplace.

Structuring Staff through Establishing Community

As others investigate companies with high retention rates such as Google, Google is immediately distinguishable from others by its reputation for keeping its employees inspired (Life at google, n.d).  Its investment in the personal interests of employees has shown boosted productivity and higher overall satisfaction in its staff members.  The work-and-play culture set forth by Google is an active example of how businesses can form personal connections between staff.  Long-term effects of implementing a culture of community show increased levels of team performance, feelings of belonging to a business, and individual employee obligation to employers.

Recommendations

Those who are looking to increase feelings of community in the workplace should practice the following recommendations:

1.      Realize the values which are important to a company and its vision.  Then, share these values and visions with employees as a tool to bind members of the company together.

2.      Teach employees to recognize their strengths and improve their weaknesses through employee development training.

3.      Accept change and the exchange of positions within teams.

 

INTRODUCTION

Problem

As the nation struggles in its economic recovery, the unemployed and underemployed venture into new territories in search of jobs.  Starting with one of the most controversial topics of the decade, it is evident that the recent layoffs and lowered availability of jobs is leading many to settle with any job that will make ends meet.  With the uncertainty of the job market, one might assume that these employees might want to hold on firmly to their newly acquired positions. However, according to surveying companies of the Dolan Technologies Corp, voluntary turnover rates have been on the rise (Turnover, 2012).  So what is it that makes employees stay with a company?  Though pay rates and benefits play a big role in overall employee satisfaction (Shetrone, 2011), this report will focus on how to form communities in the workplace and display ways that it has helped businesses like Google, one of the largest Fortune 500 companies (100 Best, 2012), to keep its employees happy and productive.

Background

Throughout the years of economic development within the nation, there has been a development of a corporate culture that commands attention from all ages of workers.  This culture comes with dreams of high salaries, paid vacations, 40-hour work-weeks, and full-coverage health insurance.  In times of economic stability, it seemed these dreams not only trickled down to blue-collar workers, but they became tangible requirements to all.

Significance

Since the recent economic recession, the goal of many businesses to cut budgets has affected the staffing and attitudes of workers.  Why have employees’ attitudes changed?  After all, the tasks being performed are initially the same.  When surveys were analyzed through the Dolan Technologies Corp, many voluntary halts in employment were shown to be a result of retiring baby-boomers (Turnover, 2012).  Though these positions became vacant, many businesses also reported having difficulty in finding experienced replacements (Turnover, 2012).  How could these positions have been filled with the turnover rate being just as rapid on the entry levels?

Purpose

This report is a suggestion on how companies can indirectly improve the feelings and attitudes of employees through staff development.  It is suggested by the researcher that businesses struggling with a high turnover rate consider revamping their company values and employee interests.

Scope of Report

As noted in the introduction, turnover rates are an ongoing issue that has seemed to peak in the recent years.  Though this report will not cover all ways of assisting a lower turnover rate, its aim is to open the eyes of readers to consider how businesses can sustain their current staff through recognition of standard values and staff development.  The work will help readers to separate community development from individual development and how they intertwine.  This report also highlights the success of Google in its pursuit to satisfy their employees as an example on how to embrace community in the workplace.

BODY

Google Works

In February of 2012, CNN gave out its annual ratings on the top 100 companies to work for.  Google topped the list, landing the number one spot (100 best companies, 2012).  Though comments on the online posting revealed that the salaries may not be as high compared to other contenders, the business made up for it in perks (100 best companies, 2012)—better known as extra benefits that come with a job.  Google job’s official website displays videos, pictures, and all sorts of visuals to help understand what these perks are (Life at google, n.d.). There are workout centers, astonishing rest areas and hallways resembling museums, and limitless in-house catering for all employees at no charge (Life at google, n.d.).  With so many possibilities for leisure, how can one focus on work?  Surprisingly, though the company has invested in what most would consider to be outrageously lavish facilities, Google also ranked as one of the top most profitable businesses of the year (Top companies: most profitable, 2012).  Their turnover rate is also record low.  Despite the well-known perks that most only dream of having with their jobs, most employees reveal that their satisfaction comes from the family-oriented culture within the company itself (Life at google, n.d.).

What is Community?

According to a periodical which highlighted the presence of community in small businesses, a community consists of people who are committed to each other’s care and nurturing through participatory means (Naylor, Willimon, & Österberg, 1996).  The idea seems reasonably applicable to a team of co-workers.  However, that relationship must first be established through expectations of a culture set forth by management.

As previously noted on the success of Google, the company had shown growth on the creativity and passion of its employees.  It seems that everyone shared something special within the organization—a similar spirit.  However, what is it that created these feelings?  How can other businesses mimic this effect?  The creation of a workplace community is not as simple as it may seem, but the following list is the criteria used by Naylor, Willimon, & Österberg to outline communities (1996):

  1. Shared vision– Employees must share a future goal which they want to accomplish as a business. This commitment must be made to work toward the business’s overall progression.
  2. Common values– The ability of employers to emphasize ethics which are consistent to the beliefs of its employees is a stabilizing tool (Naylor, Willimon, & Österberg, 1996).  Workers who feel that their employers recognize their self-interests are more likely to commit to the business (Shetrone, 2011).
  3. Boundaries– In forming a community within the workplace, a company must set guidelines of consistent beliefs and culture within the organization. This may include a written code of conduct, a ranking system, and a statement of liabilities that employees share with the business (Naylor, Willimon, & Österberg, 1996).
  4. Responsibility sharing– Members of the business must realize that they all are accountable for the success of their business.  This shared responsibility is at the base of how employees will cooperate as a team (Naylor, Willimon, & Österberg, 1996).
  5. Empowerment– Everyone in the company should feel that their ideas can help define the movement of the company (Naylor, Willimon, & Österberg, 1996).
  6. Growth and development– A business that invests in the personal growth and development of its employees will see that it is the best way of sustaining the business (Naylor, Willimon, & Österberg, 1996).
  7. Tension reduction– Successful communities will adapt to new demands and have a form of conflict resolution in place. A business must know their environment’s current circumstances such as economic, social, and political changes.  Businesses must also know how to resolve disputes occurring between workers, consumers, and vendors (Naylor, Willimon, & Österberg, 1996).
  8. Education– It is important to have an effective training program in place to coach workers to share basic core values (Naylor, Willimon, & Österberg, 1996).  This will also allow new members to understand expectations of becoming a part of the workplace community.
  9. Feedback – Businesses who search for additional improvements within the company should be open to feedback.  Considering that there may be instances where employees or consumers feel that this is extra work (Naylor, Willimon, & Österberg, 1996), it is something that should be presented as an opportunity for contribution as opposed to being a requirement.
  10. Friendship- It is shown that most job applicants are searching for an environment that will foster friendship and enjoyment (Naylor, Willimon, & Österberg, 1996).  In organizations where workers claim that it is easy to make friends, there are less reported absences and an increased morale. Also, experiments in a construction company showed that teams that were formed on a social network were more productive than teams of people who were not friends (Beddoes-Jones, 2004).

 

When this criterion is met and standards are clear, employees who share the same attitudes will realize their common goals both in the workplace and in their personal lives.  They will realize the importance of their position in the business which encourages endurance in pursuing their roles.  This is a distributing factor in employee satisfaction and long-term commitment to an organization.

           

Employee Development: The Key Investment

 

Part of the process in eliminating members who may not be happy at a business is the initial interview.  Though background and experience in a particular field are most times desirable, showing adaptability and openness to change are also traits to look for.  Employees leave their roles because they are unhappy, unfulfilled, retiring, or being terminated.  It is best to look for new-hires that a business feels it can support (Shetrone, 2011).

 

As a company specializing in business development, DS Performance Group from Hutchinson, Minnesota has outlined these five key elements in building work relationships (Peters, 2010).  Contrary to the list compiled by Naylor, Willimon, & Österberg (1996), the workshop focuses on the actions of the worker as opposed to what standards should be met by a business entity.  These concepts are the coping skills needed by all staff to interact well with one another.

 

ImpactofembracingPositiveWorkplaceCommunitySelf-Esteem is the respect, confidence, and trust that one has in his/herself.  This is a contributing factor to whether a worker will communicate openly or not (Peters, 2010).

 

Self-Disclosure is what one reveals about him/her to others in a given situation to clarify their motives.  It is useful in quickly identifying with others (Peters, 2010).

 

Acceptance is one’s ability to understand and value other’s disclosures (Peters, 2010).  This does not mean that the two parties are in agreement but they may simply understand that they are different.

 

Trust and risk are two elements which DS Performance Group pair together.  Trust is important in measuring others capabilities.  Risk assessment is important in measuring possibilities of loss.  The level of trust one holds affects what risks they will take in working with others.  Coworkers who bear high levels of trust in one another are more willing to complete many tasks together as opposed to coworkers who have low levels of trust and feel more self-conscious about their individual performance (Peters, 2010).

 

In reviewing both the periodical by Naylor, Willimon, & Österberg and the workshop outlined by DS Performance Group, it is possible to conclude that businesses must educate their members on organizational standards as well as coach them on good practices and self-assessment.  Until organizational members are able to disclose themselves openly, look past each other’s differences, and establish good self-esteem, an organization cannot be a thriving community.  Businesses must recognize that not all personal conflicts can always be individually addressed by management. Therefore, it is important to empower current workers with the five-key concept and remind employees of the benefits of these basic relationship monitors.

 

Groups are Ever-changing

 

Bruce W Tuckman’s 1965 four-stage model of forming, storming, norming and performing is one of the most well-known group concepts (Beddoes-Jones, 2004).  This theory highlights the activities of group members in the growth of a team over time.  During forming stages, members are unified by a common purpose.  During the storming stages, members will assess each other’s positive and negative aspects in comparison to one another in order to establish place and hierarchy among each other.  The norming stage happens once everyone knows the boundaries of their actions.  After the first three stages are met, groups may begin accomplishing their goals.

 

CONCLUSIONS

As displayed by Google, an investment in showing appreciation for employees has created a culture of happy feelings that everyone can share.  However, another thing employers and staff must realize is that groups are always changing.  Companies change direction as do workers in search of new challenges.  This is something that all members belonging to a workplace must realize and accept.

 

The work-and-play culture set forth by Google is an active example of how businesses can form personal connections between staff.  Long-term effects of implementing a culture of community show increased levels of team performance, feelings of belonging to a business, and individual employee obligation to employers.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

Those who are looking to increase feelings of community in the workplace should practice the following recommendations:

1.      Realize the values which are important to a company and its vision.  Then, share these values and visions with employees as a tool to bind members of the company together.

2.      Teach employees to recognize their strengths and improve their weaknesses through employee development training.

3.      Accept change and the exchange of positions within teams.

 

References

Beddoes-Jones, F. (2004). The psychology of teams. Training Journal, 16 p.16. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/202950329?accountid=6392

Life at google. (n.d.) Google jobs. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/about/jobs/lifeatgoogle/

Naylor, T. H., Willimon, W. H., & Österberg, R. (1996). The search for community in the workplace. Business and Society Review, 97 pp. 42-7

Peters, D. A. Building work relationships. (2010). DS Performance Group. Retrieved from http://www.dsperformancegroup.com/pdf/building.pdf

Shetrone, A. (2011, May 18). 7 ways to improve employee satisfaction, INC. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/guides/201105/7-ways-to-improve-employee-satisfaction.html

Top companies: most profitable. (2012, July 23). CNN money. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/global500/2012/performers/companies/profits/

Turnover rates inching up (2012, September 12). Compdata surveys dolan technologies corp. Retrieved from http://www.compdatasurveys.com/2012/09/12/turnover-rates-inching-up/

100  Best companies to work for. (2012, February 6).  CNN money. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/best-companies/2012/full_list/

 

 

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