When you spend at least a third of your day in one place, you better hope it’s one that you like. After all, employees aren’t rats in a maze looking for cheese, even if the grind is dubbed as the “rat race”. In job interviews, the question “What is your ideal workplace” is asked with gusto. Hiring managers are keen to find out if a particular person is a good fit for the position and the company. But does it really matter? Surely if we’re going to be pragmatic about it, as long as the person says they’re willing, it shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Dan Ariely, a behavioral economist would disagree. In his Ted Talk, he explains how naive and simplistic this view of the working class is. He redirects us to the false imagery of the corporate life as being a “rat race” and how money is not everything. Money may make the world go round, but it does not magically translate to a good working environment.
Now, how do you create an ideal workplace? Is it Google’s perks like free gym, free lunches or even the fact that in some locations, they can bring their pets to work? Or is it the unlimited vacation time given to employees by some companies in the United States? As amazing as these sound, it’s not a one size fits all, and some of these aren’t realistic in the Philippines as of the moment.
Here are the three things that are found in both articles:
Crystal Clear Communication
Driving at night with no headlights on is ridiculous and an abhorrently bad idea. How can you navigate without knowing your surroundings and what lies ahead? With that being said, how can you work efficiently when you have no clear grasp of the organization? A thorough understanding of the goals and where the company stands is something that would benefit both employee and employer. It gives context and answers the question of “why?”
More than simply dictating “what”, “where” and “who” to your people, a two-way communication is also an indicator of a healthy environment. If the management is open to feedback from the employees, aside from them gaining useful information, this will encourage people to be more proactive and involved.
The road to corporate success is paved with burned out people. It’s no secret that if you want to climb up that ladder, sacrifices have to be made. Keeping your eye on the prize is one thing. But neglecting health, family and relationships for ambition is another. Unfortunately, a lot of people who are just starting can very easily fall into this trap, especially if the company culture says so. An environment that encourages balance will churn out people who are excited to work and more satisfied with their jobs. As a result you will gain assets who are not only good at what they are doing, but who will stay as your assets for a long time.
However, that is on the side of the employers. What about us employees? What can we do about it? The answer may not be an easy one, but it’s something we should all remember. On Nigel March’s Ted Talk, How to Make Work-Life Balance Work, he says something that challenges us to take control over our lives:
“If you don’t design your life, someone else will design it for you, and you may just not like their idea of balance.”
Leadership, Growth and Development
As with the phrase “climbing up the corporate ladder”, people are on the prowl to move. They’re not looking to stay in the same position forever. As such, investing time and money to hone their leadership skills will not only motivate them, but provide the company high-caliber leaders as well. Continued improvement and the search for something bigger and better is something that is innate in people. So innate, that when a good place becomes stagnant, they look for another.
However, growth and development is not boxed solely with giving a promotion or a raise. It also involves providing your employees with life skills that will be useful to them in the long run. Training your people will not only provide you with better workers but with people who are proactive and invested.
These three are not all there is in creating a good working environment. But ultimately it’s a good start. When you foster an environment that thrives on transparency, people are more inclined to be honest as well. Prove to people that in your company there is life after work, and they will work with more vigor. Treat people like assets and not expenses, and they will strive to prove their value.
Lotie Mercado is an Editorial Assistant at WorkWise Asia. She loves literature, art and films.