Great as an icebreaker when connecting with a friend, not so great when it’s your staff. This statement is a death sentence to morale and employee engagement for an organization who has not established policies that provide channels of communication that are “safe” and “employee friendly” for employees to voice concerns free from the fear of retribution.

It’s not enough to listen and make suggestions. Employees want results. Even if you can not resolve the issue and deliver the outcome(s) desired, if you are consistent in following through, your actions are interpreted as being authentic and transparent. Anything else is lip service. No one likes a talking head.

Trust is lost, apathy grows and communication breaks down, when employees believe they are not being heard. In any relationship, no one wants to feel neglected. No one stays in a relationship where they see no signs of their partner changing the behavior that is causing the relationship to be strained.

Developing a culture and employee brand where your staff is engaged is possible. Here’s what you can do to have your organizational culture align with your missions and vision and incorporate an authentic “open door policy”.

  • If your door is open, your objectivity must be as well. Managers and supervisors can not take concerns or grievances personally and they must refrain from reacting to what is being shared. Creating opportunities to model effective feedback will help in setting a standard in how to voice a concern and gives managers practice in how to properly respond.
  • Establish what your employee brand will be. People talk, especially disgruntled employees. What they say about your organization has an impact on your ability to recruit top talent.
  • Make sure your organization’s policies and procedures align with your mission/vision statements and strategic plans. If they communicate an organizational culture that has a human capital asset based approach to HR, then your policies can not have language that aligns with a liability approach.
  • Develop a clear and understandable grievance policy. Have the staff get involved. Make sure the process feels safe and free from retribution.
  • Celebrate the new policy. Who wants to sit for a boring workshop. Present “our” new policy and thank everyone for being a stakeholder in the process.
  • Most importantly implement. You are committing organizational suicide if you take your staff through a process of brainstorming, feedback surveys and one on ones to develop a desired organizational culture and there is no follow through and/or failure to implement in a timely fashion.
  • If there is no action, prepare for an exodus. Your staff may show up but I assure you they have mentally checked out. Once an employee is no longer engaged, apathy sets in. An apathetic, dissatisfied employee will cost you more than an employee who leaves because they are on your payroll and not producing to their optimal ability.

Having the organizational culture you envision is possible. Your HR department is integral in creating this culture. If your organization is small and your budget doesn’t afford you the luxury of hiring a Strategic Human Resource Manager, you may want to consider outsourcing.

Today’s workforce demands for organizations to be proactive and not reactive. SHRM’s are business partners that can help your organization have the culture a 21st Century workforce would thrive in.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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