How ANYONE Can Improve the Employee Experience

This week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Happy On Mondays event. I started my Monday morning in front of a room full of bright people, all eager to learn the secrets of beating the Sunday Scaries and enjoying their work lives.

Here’s a recap of this inspiring event…

Improving the 9 to 5, WITHOUT Being an Exec

Whether you’re in a position to effect change or not-you can promote a positive 9 to 5 experience for yourself and others.

Yes, it could be by getting a new job, or moving to a company with an established workplace culture. But, if you enjoy the work and don’t necessarily want to go, there is still hope.

Improving your 9 to 5 may not happen overnight, but there are steps you can take to make the employee experience more positive for you and your colleagues.

Step 1- Identify the problem

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If you had a weird smell in your home, you could try to mask it for days with candles or air fresheners, but the smell would never truly go away. Eventually to get rid of the smell for good, you’d need to investigate what is causing the smell eliminate it forever.

The same goes for an office with poor morale. You could try to just cover it by playing louder music or handing out chocolate bars, but that doesn’t actually solve what is at the root of the low morale problem.

You need to identify why your team is suffering from low morale. As a team member yourself, you might have a good idea. But now is the time to figure out what’s going on.

How can you do that?

  • If you’re in a HR or Exec position- survey your team. Ask anonymous questions around how your team is feeling and what they might like to see (here’s a great list of important questions to ask in this survey)

  • If you don’t have this ability- ask around informally. Chat with your colleagues and see what’s got them down at work. (pro tip: Meet up for a coffee to get out of the office to chat in case they’re uncomfortable sharing their feelings in the office)

  • Observe- what do you see? Is there a culture of fear? Are people afraid to take a short break from work? Is there an air of distrust?

Once you identify these problems put together a small summary of the trends. You will need these for step 2.

Step 2- Speak to Stakeholders

No matter where you are in your career, you’re a valuable member of the team and can contribute your perspective to helping shape a better workplace.

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Especially if you’re new to an organization you can offer some valuable third party insight. But if you’re not in a position to make change yourself, reach out to those you can.

Identify who can help you with this, who has the authority to make a change. Pick someone who you feel would be open to chatting with you or has been friendly in the past.

Ask them to have a coffee meeting with to chat and let them know you’re passionate about the company and would like to do your part to improve morale around the office.

The goal of this is to get on their radar. Make sure they know you’re interested in contributing and want to help. This can sometimes be a touchy subject, so I recommend being as positive and helpful as possible. Don’t lay blame or make acquisitions, simply express your interest in playing a more active role in organizing team events and initiatives.

Also, don’t be discouraged if little action is taken after your first meeting. Sometimes it takes a few meetings to get things in motion. Stay positive, stay patient and do your best to continue your communication with these key stakeholders expressing your desire to contribute to a better employee experience.

Step 3- Put Together a Plan for Culture Committee & Present to Execs

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Some execs or decision makers may not buy-in to the value and return on investment that is employee engagement. They might not see the need to improve office morale, or the long term impact this can have on the business.

Your best bet for dealing with these naysayers are to convince them with a strategy. Come prepared.

Put together a plan to launch a volunteer culture committee. This won’t cost a thing and can be done over the lunch hour to limit any work time lost to this initiative.

How to start?

  • Come with Research - (here’s a great list of stats to share on the ROI of employee engagement) and your survey results or findings that address the root of the challenges your workplace is facing

  • Start with the value for your execs- pitch them on how the Culture Committee can help them with their challenges like the cost of attracting talent and the huge productivity loss and cost of high turnover.

  • Present your plan for the Culture Committee- how many people will be involved, how they’ll be selected, when you’ll meet, what you’ll discuss, outcomes of your meetings

  • Anticipate challenges - think about what they might ask you about or question and have answers prepared

In the Meanwhile- Be the Positive Change You Want to See

These are long-term, big picture solutions. Stay consistent with them and in the meanwhile, start with the power of one. Be the positive change you’d like to see and start initiatives to improve morale on your own.

Here’s a few ways you can do this:

  • Don’t eat your lunch at your desk- encourage your colleagues to join you eating in the lunch room. Just having lunch with other people and talking together can improve morale substantially.

  • Start a plank challenge- enlist a friendly colleague and start a 30 second plank challenge before you end your day and encourage others to join you. It’s a fun way to bond as a team and cost $0!

  • Bring in board games - they’re a great way to have some fun and improve morale around the office. Bring in a game from home and play it during lunch.

  • Be as positive and inclusive as you can- change takes times, but do your best to come to work positive and spread as much of that as you can. Smile at your coworkers. Ask them how they’re doing, ask them about their families and lives outside of work. These small gestures go a long way and can have a domino effect. Your positive compliment made your coworker happy, and she then gave a compliment to another colleague and it continues.

As cheesy as it sounds, you can be the change you want to see.

If you’re eager to improve your 9 to 5, but you’re not sure where to start get in touch. We’re always happy to give a free consult on how we can help your team have a better employee experience.