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/

 

 

Crocheted Dolls, 3-4 hr project

wpid-IMG_20140310_123633.jpgDon’t know how to crochet?  Here are a few great resources for beginning steps and patterns from other talented online bloggers.

*CROCHET GEEK on YouTube – These are the best quality videos that I have seen on the web for crocheting.  The videos take you through all of the simple beginner steps that you will need to know.

Step-by-Step Stitch Guide provided by thestitchsharer

Lots of cute patterns and reviews from Sugar’s Sweet Stitches

Lots more ideas from Hello, I’m Amee

DIRECTIONS:

Arms and legs (make 4)

Chain 10, DC 2 in the third chain from the hook, DC 2 in the rest of the chains for a total of 16 DC. Finish off.

Head-

Chain 2

R1: 8 SC in the second chain from the hook, chain 1 through the first SC and the last SC to connect the circle, chain 1 and rotate

R2: SC 1, SC 2 in the next stitch of R1, repeat until you have 12 SC, connect the circle, chain 1 and rotate

R3: SC 2 stitches in a row, SC 2 in the third stitch of R2, repeat until you have 16 SC,  connect the circle, chain 1 and rotate

R4: SC 3 stitches in a row, SC 2 in the fourth stitch of R3, repeat until you have 20 SC  connect the circle, chain 1 and rotate

R5-R9: SC in each stitch of the previous row, keeping a constant of 20 SC, connect the circle, chain 1 and rotate to continue next row

R10: SC 3 stitches in a row, SC decrease using fourth and fifth stitches of R9, repeat until you have 16 SC, connect the circle, chain 1 and rotate to continue next row

(Stuff the head with cotton to the firmness of your liking.)

R11: SC 2 stitches in a row, SC decrease using third and fourth stitches of R10, repeat until you have 12 SC, connect the circle, chain 1 and rotate to continue next row

R12: SC 1, SC decrease using second and third stitches of R11, repeat until you have 8 SC, connect the circle, chain 1 and rotate to continue next row

R13: SC decrease using first and second stitches of R12, repeat pattern until you have 4 SC, connect the circle, chain 1 and rotate to continue next row

DON’T BE AFRAID TO BE CREATIVE WITH COLORS, BUTTONS, AND BEADS!wpid-IMG_20140310_070643.jpg

Body-

(Switch to desired color of yarn for the body)

R14: SC 2 in each stitch of R13 until you have 8 SC, connect the circle, chain 1 and rotate to continue next row

R15: SC 1, SC 2 in the next stitch of R1, repeat until you have 12 SC, connect the circle, chain 1 and rotate

R16: SC 2 stitches in a row, SC 2 in the third stitch of R2, repeat until you have 16 SC,  connect the circle, chain 1 and rotate

R17: SC 3 stitches in a row, SC 2 in the fourth stitch of R3, repeat until you have 20 SC  connect the circle, chain 1 and rotate

R18-R25: SC in each stitch of the previous row, keeping a constant of 20 SC, connect the circle, chain 1 and rotate to continue next row

(Attach the doll’s arms and legs where you would like them positioned.  Fill the body with cotton to the firmness of your liking.)

R26: (To close off body) Lay pattern ends flat to make 1 top and 1 bottom layer, matching up the stitches of R25 in pairs, chain through one top stitch for every bottom stitch until you have a total of 10 chains.  Finish off, weave in ends.

Hair-

For long hair, cut strips of yarn between 5″-6″.  For short hair, try 2 1/2″-3″.  Weave them into the back of the doll’s head by folding the yard in half and pulling the loop end diagonally through a stitch.  Then pull the two loose ends of yarn through the loop as if making a chain, but continue pulling the yarn ends all the way through the loop.  Tighten at the root and move onto next strand.

Why I Relearned the Language of my Heritage

Though Wisconsin holds the second highest population of Hmong-American residents in the United States, my family always resided in areas estranged from any major Hmong communities.  I didn’t speak the language very well because I never had to.  All of this changed when my family moved to Appleton during my seventh-grade year.

I attended school in the city of Milwaukee until we moved to Appleton.  It was my first time attending a suburban school.  My textbooks were brand-new, the hallways were tamed, and for the first time, I could look passer-byers in the eye and receive a friendly smile as opposed to a hostile stare.  I felt at ease as I followed the school counselor to my first class —level one French.  I was quickly introduced to a curly brown-haired girl named Katie. She was to be my mentor and designated lunch-buddy for the day.  By the end of the class, I had already befriended her and by the end of our lunch hour, I had befriended all her company.

As everyone gathered their books for the next period, I was surprised to see two Hmong girls approaching me.  They asked me why I didn’t sit with the other Hmong kids. I shrugged my shoulders and followed as they guided me to the far corner of the cafeteria. There were about four long lunchroom tables fully occupied by Hmong students with dark eyes and coal black hair like mine. They looked like me, but they didn’t sound like me.  As the sound of the sing-songy Hmong language echoed through the air, I grew timid and shy.

Over time, the Hmong students I met that day came to degrade me for prominently speaking English, not being able to speak Hmong, and having non-Asian friends. I realized that they felt threatened that their language and culture would become irrelevant.  What they didn’t know was that they hindered themselves in this way: their unwillingness to learn English and my equal desire to relearn Hmong was what kept them from fully engaging in the life and opportunity in front of them which I took advantage of.  That day, I learned the power of bilingualism and what a difference it has made in my lifestyle.  Though it’s been almost ten years, I hope those same colleagues have studied English with the same effort that I have studied Hmong.

Staying Young as a Married Couple

dancingwithhubbyThough my husband and I were one of the last couples to tie the knot in our circle of friends, we were the first to have children.  In many ways, we both feel that not only have we matured significantly more in our relationship, but we’ve also aged much faster physically and emotionally.  While all of the other wives are trying on stilettos at 9 p.m. on a Friday night, I’m usually laying half-awake on the couch wondering when my two toddlers will finally fall asleep.  Even on nights when we have a sitter, my husband and I are drained of energy before the clock strikes midnight.  How do we stay young when it seems we’re always running low on batteries?

What makes us feel old? Is it lifestyle? Routine? Perhaps, a lack of neurotransmitter activity? Stay tuned for upcoming posts to these questions.

The Confusing World of Naming Inorganic Chemical Compounds

Are you taking chemistry as a requirement this semester?  The good news is if you absorb any bit of information from the lectures, you’ll have insight into a world most people neglect to see.  The bad news—you’ll probably have to know how to name inorganic compounds, which is just as difficult as a grammar lesson.  No need to fear!  Here is an organizational chart of how to name inorganic chemical compounds which I webbed out of notes.  Hopefully it simplifies a few key concepts for those struggling to finish their study guides.

Click on image to enlarge