Though there has been some progress at America’s workplaces in the past 100 years, times have changed with too many workplaces still going about their business relying on traditional approaches, habits and attitudes. The workforce composition has changed dramatically, and the expectation of employees, regardless of their respective generations, is vastly different than even a decade ago.
Ask most CEOs, and they will share with you that one of their biggest challenges is finding and retaining top talent. That challenge is even greater for those companies that are slow to adapt to today’s employee expectations.
If you find that your organization is behind the times or just needs a slight workplace “makeover,” consider some of the following ideas that will certainly create a positive “buzz” at work, and perhaps generate some public branding that your company is indeed a forward-thinking organization:
Unlimited Paid Time Off (PTO): Your first reaction to this idea might be that it would never work at your organization. You might be surprised how many companies across our country are adopting this approach to PTO. We incorporated the concept in 1998 at my former employer ERC, and it was embraced by our staff for over two decades. Ironically, our staff, on average, took significantly less time off than if we had left the traditional scheduled vacation and sick time policies in place. The key is having employees on board you trust and those who are interested in performing at high levels and contributing to your organization.
Change meeting times: A subtle but effective change is to alter meeting start times. Fight the temptation to start meetings prior to 9 a.m. There are many employees who struggle to make early meeting times due to family obligations. The later meeting start times are appreciated by staff, and you may find that your meetings are actually more productive. Also, consider discarding early Monday morning and late Friday afternoon meetings. You can hold them, but recognize that attendees’ focus and attention spans at those times might be limited.
Modify schedules: Much has been written about the merits of flexible schedules. Once considered a nice perk, flexible schedules are expected these days by top performing employees. They want to manage their schedules and be treated like adults. It is important to note that top performers are interested in being judged on results rather than hours worked.
Abolish the one-hour meeting: It’s fascinating that meetings are typically scheduled for one hour and scheduled at the top or bottom of the hour. How about a new approach for a few weeks? For a little fun, start all your meetings at odd times (e.g. 1:12 p.m. or 10:42 a.m). And, instead of one hour, schedule meetings in 30-minute durations. Also, advance an agenda to all invited attendees. You might be amazed that you accomplish the same amount of work in 30 minutes that you formerly covered in one hour. Imagine all the time saved due to the increase in meeting efficiency.
Change the look: Get rid of the beige and battleship gray walls and splash vibrant, high-energy colors throughout your facility. Your employees will love it and your customers, prospective employees and guests will certainly take note. Change the gloom to boom!
Menu change: Replace the traditional office/meeting pastries with fresh fruit and other healthy food options. Also, consider replacing soda with water and say goodbye to vending machines that are loaded with junk food.
Policy makeover: Get rid of the archaic policies like use it or lose it vacation, probationary periods and old-style bereavement polices. Add in programs and policies that top performers will appreciate like fully paid maternity leave and assistance with student loan payments. Remember that a great way to attract and retain talent is to stay ahead of the curve and be innovative with your pay and benefits.
Surprise, surprise: Create memorable moments for your team when they least expect it. These initiatives will certainly create positive talk in the organization, while having some fun with your team. A little spontaneity goes a long way.
Ask your employees first: Your employees are the best consultants you will ever hire. So, before you retain high-priced consultants for some projects, ask your staff first. You will save a bunch of money and get the job done without bringing in outside people. Your employees will appreciate being asked, and it will enhance their engagement with your company.
Prioritize employees and their families ahead of profits:
Though this seems counterintuitive to running a successful business, this approach greatly enhances your organization’s ability to attract and retain the best talent in town. And, when you have great talent, magic will happen with your company!
In addition to some of the thoughts listed above, there are dozens of other ways to positively shake things up at work. Take a few risks, have some fun and focus on new and different ways to enhance your workplace. If you are successful, you may find that the talent shortage will continue to be your competitors’ problem and no longer yours.
Pat Perry is a leadership advisor, motivational speaker and author (patperrybook.com)