The future of work Christopher SmithJanuary 27, 2021

For Employee Behavior Change, Model the Workplace

For Employee Behavior Change, Model the Workplace

Changing employee behavior is one of the biggest challenges faced in today’s workplace, but it can be accomplished with the right approach – for effective employee behavior change, model the workplace.

The workplace is one of the main factors influencing employee behaviors and attitudes, and it is one of the main aspects of employees’ lives that can be controlled. Other factors, such as personalities and home lives, on the other hand, cannot be controlled.

It is best to therefore start with those aspects of the work environment that:

  • Affect employee attitudes and behavior
  • Can be changed relatively easily and affordably
  • Deliver quick wins

Below, we’ll look at a few core pillars of the workplace, then learn how changing those elements can improve employee behavior.

For Real Employee Behavior Change, Model the Workplace

Deloitte identified five key elements of the workplace that affect employee engagement:

Meaningful Work

It is well-known that people want to find meaning in the work that they do – the more meaningful the work, the more engaged people are.

According to some sources, one of the best ways to add meaning to a person’s work is to show them the positive impact they are having. 

Deloitte, however, suggests that job-person fit is the most important part of employee engagement. To maximize engagement, they suggest carefully selecting the right person for the job, not necessarily the person with the right credentials.

Hands-On Management

The quality and effectiveness of management has an enormous impact on employee behaviors and attitudes.

According to Gallup, for instance, managers account for the majority of the variance in employee behavior. 

Naturally, improving managerial skills takes time and resources, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. A leadership development program is one way to improve the quality of managers.

Deloitte also suggests managers set clearly defined goals, simplify the annual appraisal process, and create a coaching culture.

Positive Work Environment

Like organizational culture, there is no such thing as a “right” work environment that fits everyone. What is positive and stimulating for one person may not be the right fit for another.

That being said, certain qualities are more suitable than others. A flexible and supportive work environment, Deloitte says, can significantly improve engagement.

Citing companies like Google, which offer free food, yoga, and more, Deloitte says that such working environments allow for more autonomy and freedom. 

Alongside other factors, such as recognition, this flexibility can go a long way towards boosting employee engagement, employee productivity, and ultimately their behavior.

Growth Opportunity

Everyone, from the highest-level executive to the frontline employee, wants to know what’s in it for them. 

That is, why are they working for the company?

Professional development is cited as one of the top drivers of engagement, particularly for younger workers. 

There are several ways to enable career development in the workplace. 

One way is to ensure that promotional pathways are made clearly available to employees.

Another is to implement career development programs that actively assist employees with their career growth.

Yet another, says Deloitte, is to support “facilitated talent mobility” – giving employees more opportunities to take on preferred tasks and assignments.

Trust in Leadership

Last but not least, leadership is one of the most influential factors in employee behavior and engagement. 

Leadership skills, such as communication skills and soft skills, can help leaders foster better connections with their workers. 

Yet Deloitte says that a company’s purpose actually has a large influence on engagement and behaviors. When that purpose is clear and aligned with the culture, it will resonate with workers and improve engagement.

Other areas to focus on include top-down transparency, investment in people, and inspiration.

The Bottom Line: To Improve Behavior, Build an Engaging Workplace

Deloitte’s model is only one approach to improving the workplace and, as a consequence, the employee experience, employee engagement, and behavior.

As mentioned above, however, there is no one-size-fits-all model or approach to improving behavior.

Instead, every organization should assess its own workforce through employee surveys, assessments, analytics, and other relevant data. That information, in turn, can help managers better understand the root causes of employee behavior, then make fixes as needed.

In addition to those covered above, here are a few other areas that can be improved upon:

  • Employee training programs can keep workers productive and stimulated, which can reduce performance-related anxiety and anxiety related to career growth – while also boosting employee performance
  • Ensuring that the organization’s culture aligns with new hires and existing employees can improve organizational communication, reduce friction, boost morale, and more
  • Improvements to the physical workplace, the digital workplace, and business processes can have a positive impact on employee attitudes and their behavior
  • Corporate well-being programs can help employees stay healthier and happier, which can in turn improve behavior and attitudes

Every workplace is ultimately unique and businesses should build their own “ideal” workplace model, then design a workplace that suits their organization’s desired mission, culture, and climate. When the workforce is aligned with that model, then behavior will improve.

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