Sunday, November 1, 2015

Is Your Workplace Witchy?

Do you care about your employees?  Do you try to make their overall lives better?  Are you their advocate?  In contrast, are your employees suffering under a "witchy" workplace in a totalitarian, self-centered or mean organization?  Has the workplace become a house of horrors?  There are ways to bring it back into the light, and it starts with your sphere of influence.

Our society has adopted some false notions around otherwise good ideas.

Productivity - Progress toward goals should be our measure but, too often, we do not look at the outcome because we are enthralled with the output.  The danger of a culture that embraces continuous after-hours engagement (seat time and emails) is four-fold:  1) Employees may not be engaging where they should or accomplishing what they should when they should.  2) Organizations that encourage this behavior are setting bad expectations for the colleagues and clients, which ultimately harm their workforce.  3) Team members often feel alienated by this type of behavior. 4) Too much of any good thing is harmful. 

As America's workforce slides toward hiring increasing numbers of generation Y and Z, an out-of-balance work ethic could set organizations up for retention issues.

Collaboration – Open environments have become the norm in many organizations. There is a common belief that open floor plans increase collaboration and help employees escalate their creativity, innovation, and synergy.  Open spaces are desirable, but not full time.

Seating staff permanently in open cubicles without privacy actually makes them feel vulnerable.  Full time workers spend 40 or more hours of the week at work dealing with increased disease transmission, more frequent interruption, and just an overall feeling of being exposed.  Studies indicate that open work plans actually decrease the productivity that organizations desire. 

If employees were animals, would PETA be objecting to the environment?

Professionalism – Don’t expect your employees to be androids.  Realize that they will have bad days occasionally.  They will have issues that weigh on their mind and show up in their body language despite their efforts to leave them at the door.  This is especially true in the aforementioned open floor plans.  Most of us can put on the mask of professionalism that carefully guards our tone and body language, but even that can be challenged in some circumstances.

We need to put the “human” back in “humanity” and start dealing with people rather than carelessly handling malleable cogs in a wheel. 

Programs – No, programs do not fix everything, although they can make organizational leadership feel as if they have done something for their employees.  However, programs can be out of reach to some who are in the thick of things and cannot leave their seat due to heavy work demands. 

Perhaps we need to insist that people get up from their collaborative seating arrangements and take breaks and a lunch.  Maybe we need to be sensitive to the needs of those around us and suggest that they take time on certain days of the week to participate in an exercise class or personal / career development opportunity. 

Attending to your employees' needs will render them more productive than insisting broken people fill seats.


Only Moses could get water from a rock.  Even then, it was only with divine intervention.  If you are in a position of trust that makes you responsible for others, consider this.  If  you are preoccupied with your reputation, if you insist on flawless optics on top of veritable broken glass, if you bully or yell at your employees, if you penalize them for temporary life issues, and if you don’t invest in their growth and advancement, do you have your employees' best interests in mind or your own?

While the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers may have gone the extra mile regardless of work conditions, Generation Y and Generation Z may not.  They will move on to greener pastures.  Your organization could lose great talent because of an outdated corporate culture.

Friends, leading is a gentle pull, while management is a heavy push.  Leading considers the other, while management looks inward.  Innovation is not encouraged nor does it flourish in a top-down environment where employees are unhappy.  Do you want to attract dedicated employees?  Then truly care about and invest in their careers.  It will be THE difference between a good and great organization.

So, how do you sanitize a witchy workplace?  The golden rule is a start.  As Frozen's Olaf would say, "Some people are worth melting for."  That should probably include your employees.

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