A workplace is a complex and interesting machine. Many things go into the sum of its parts. It can be slightly overwhelming when you look at a company and wonder what makes it the way that it is.
Many experts would answer that question by citing their own area of expertise. Company Culture for example is pointed to as one of the major and most important component parts of a business. Someone else might say that Leadership is the most important element.
The truth of the matter is that there are twelve things which can be identified as critical workplace areas, that together make up an Amazing Workplace. Notice that they aren’t called “Most important” or anything else.
They are critical — in other words they are crucial to the success of a company, as a group. Critical by definition means “being a turning point or specially important.” So if these areas are focused on by an organization, one might expect a turning point of great importance to occur.
These 12 areas can be grouped together under three umbrella sections — Workplace, Job, and Pay and Benefits. The 12 critical areas of a business covers many high-level subjects that are more nuanced in their own areas. You’ll find that there are a few subjects that cross-pollinate over a number of critical areas, but that makes sense, since each one of these areas has an influence on others. For example, “Productivity” is influenced by “Leadership” and “Purpose” and “Engagement” and “Workplace”, and vice-versa. There are a number of similar examples one could point out.
So let’s take a closer look at those top three, shall we?
A Workplace is a group of people working together in pursuit of a shared purpose or goal.
The workplace itself — let’s examine how that plays a part. Whether you’re in an office, or working remotely — the place where you conduct your business is an essential factor. Things like having the tools to do one’s job, how employees feel about the workplace as a whole, or more heady subjects like the company purpose, etc.
Ask yourself, would you like to come to work everyday in a hot building without air conditioning, where there are bad smells in the restrooms and the kitchen areas, the chairs are uncomfortable, the desks are old and difficult to work on, and so on? Of course not. These things have a major effect on how employees experience their day-to-day work environment.
A job is simply defined as the work a person does in order to earn money. When performed over a long period of time, a job is called a "career."
This section measures how employees feel about their Job. Do they care about their job? Or is it just a means to cash a paycheck at the end of the week? How high is morale within your team? How frustrated are employees in the attempt to deliver their work, or do they have a high understanding and ability to complete tasks? Do they have the tools, resources and training available? How stressed are they? Do they have a future career opportunity or is their future uncertain?
Do they have the support of managers and leadership in the execution of their duties? Are they allowed the freedoms required for a healthy work-life balance? And here’s a big question — do they like their job, and want to stay in their job — or do they want to leave?
Pay and Benefits are what you get in exchange for doing your job. The amount of money you receive for your job is normally called pay. Other things you get in exchange for doing your job are normally called Benefits. Benefits may include things like snacks, paid time off, training, the ability to work remotely, health and retirement plans, and more.
This section measures how employees feel about their Pay & Benefits. Are they paid fairly for the work they do? Is the process to apply for a raise easy to understand and follow? How are the perks or benefits? All of these things fall under this category.
There is a lot more to look at in each of these 12 areas, but this article serves as a high-level look at the big picture. As you read down the list of the critical areas, most of them are fairly self-explanatory, (Engagement, Purpose, Productivity, Culture, Learning and development, Leadership) with perhaps the exception of "Like, Talk, Feel". So let's talk about those...
Like is simply defined as the things one finds pleasing or enjoyable. It also means things one would prefer or want. The origin of the word like means to "be pleasing." Like measures how much your employees care for, enjoy, and are pleased by things connected to their (1) Job, (2) Pay and Benefits, and (3) Workplace.
One could say that it is a measure of how much someone enjoys their workplace, or to what degree they are pleased by being around it. Why is that important? Well, if you don't like being around your workplace, then your experience as an employee there won't be very pleasant, and you wouldn't consider your workplace to be amazing. You also wouldn't feel compelled to help the workplace or improve it, and wouldn't really see a future for yourself there either. Similarly, you wouldn't enjoy the company of your co-workers, or derive any pleasure from the performance of your job itself. You'd also not align with the company purpose and wouldn't be a good fit for that company's culture.
So it can be seen how this simple, yet often overlooked area is quite important.
Feel is simply defined as the emotion one experiences after perceiving or experiencing things. The origin of the word feel means the "sensation received or emotion experienced." In a workplace, feel measures how much agreement an employee perceives to have with the workplace and those around them.
This translates into the amount of stress an employee feels on the job. If an employee has enough time to handle their work and also enjoy life, if they feel supported — then they experience less stress because they can meet the needs of the workplace and their personal life equally. If they have shared goals and feel like they're valuable to the company, they will feel a great deal of agreement with the organization — they'll feel encouraged and supported, safe and wanted, productive and happy.
Talk simply means communication. Communication is the process of sharing an idea or thought and getting understanding on the other end. When one understands, they can be said to "know" something. The origin of the word communicate means "to share something and get understanding." In a workplace, communication measures how well ideas are shared and understood. It also helps identify what employees know and don't know. Communication is the foundation on which workplace success is built.
A lot of attention goes into communication strategy nowadays since it is recognized how important communication is in the workplace. Productivity, morale and efficiency get swallowed up in the wake of poor communication and it affects every aspect of a business — not the least of which is the bottom line and profitability of the organization.
Good and clear communication results in employees knowing how to do their jobs well, understanding the goals of the company they work for, and knowing what is expected of them in their duties. Where good communication is the prevailing wind, employees are encouraged to communicate and feel safe to do so. Leadership is effective and employees are empowered and inspired to do good work and leave their job happy at the end of the day. Employees feel acknowledged and valued for the work they do, and know what their future looks like at the company. All of these things are essential in the creation of an Amazing Workplace.