Today’s workplace is at the office, in the home, at a local coffee shop or bistro…virtually any location where you can do what needs doing on behalf of your organization. What does it mean to have an inspiring workplace culture for employees no matter where they work? It can mean:
- Employees are supercharged to show up to work
- They’re excited about what the future holds
- They’re aligned with the organizations’ overall mission and in tune with its vision
- They feel supported coming into work, knowing that the organization has their back
- They see themselves reflected in the company and have a strong sense of belonging
- They see the workplace environment as one that allows them to do their best work
- They perceive the workplace culture to be positive and suited to their well-being
Let’s break down inspiration in the workplace and talk about the benefits and where it fits in most engagement models.
Inspiration is a question often included in the employee engagement index which determines engagement scores and with some analysis, helps organizations act on factors that are most impactful on organizational change.
Inspiration is a leading indicator of discretionary effort which drives productivity and can help improve customer experiences. It might be reflected in your employee engagement index with a question like, ‘My organization inspires me to give my very best at work’.
Aside from business results though, isn’t it just nice if you have a workplace full of inspired people working together to achieve a mission, or in WorkTango’s case, a passion?
For an in-depth look at WorkTango’s employee engagement model and index, download the info sheet here!
A work environment that encompasses all these different components and more is what shapes an inspirational workplace culture. And there are proven focus areas, which when worked on, make this inspired and inspiring goal, achievable.
Creating Your Ideal Inspirational Workplace Culture
Say an inspirational–workplace-oriented survey “question” (statisticians prefer to call them “items”) doesn’t measure up with internal or external benchmarks — what do you do then? There are hundreds of pointers on how to create a more inspiring workplace, but these dozen tips touch on the most common ways to get the best results. Let’s have a look.
1. Master the Onboarding Process
Let’s have a look.
To ensure employees feel inspired coming into work, you need to get off on the right foot from the get go. This means creating the right employee onboarding experience.
It can be intimidating coming into a new place of work unfamiliar with communication tools or protocols. A well-planned onboarding process systematically brings your new hires up to speed. In fact, employees who report having had a good onboarding experience are 18 times more likely to be committed to their organization than those who didn’t.
Feeling inspired from the start nurtures a sense of loyalty that permeates throughout the rest of the work experience. But there is a danger if what’s promised during orientation doesn’t match the reality of what unfolds on the job. In turn, this can create a sense of discontentment and cause disappointed or overwhelmed employees to feel uninspired.
2. Create the Desired Workplace Experience
During the pandemic, many organizations are offering funds to their employees or sending them office capital to create the ideal workplace at home. Such support is being extended inside offices as well, so onsite employees are set up with the right workplace ergonomics.
The workplace experience, however, goes beyond workplace design. It’s also shaped by the interactions and activities that happen in the physical workspace. So, many new things are being introduced by progressive organizations such as:
- Bring your pet to work days
- Planned outings
- Providing breaks during long workdays.
- And, a favorite at WorkTango: holding weekly Foody Friday’s
3. Work on Motivation
Motivation is a factor closely linked with inspiration in the workplace.
Feeling inspired leads to being more motivated at work. Feeling motivated feeds into feelings of inspiration. And on it goes.
So, to create an inspirational workplace culture work on motivating employees. You can learn about what motivates your employees through survey assessments. Is it career training and development? A better work/life balance? The job? The freedom to make decisions about their work?
By ensuring that you support employees through their everyday work and are in tune with their personal and professional goals, the odds of them showing up to work inspired goes up.
Over years of surveying the employees of organizations large and small, from rural and urban locations around the globe, we’ve found Professional Growth / Career Growth is often high on the list of impactful drivers of engagement. (In fact, it’s one of ours at WorkTango, so we’ve created a Pursuing Mastery Committee dedicated to creating opportunities for each of us on the Tango team to grow personally and professionally).
4. Create a Diverse Workplace
It’s important to diversify the workspace so that you have different perspectives shaping your workplace culture.
Think about how a multigenerational employee population can impact culture. Values and attitudes change with time. GenZers and Millennials have a distinct way of looking at things compared to GenX or Baby Boomers. Women have different experiences than men and contribute to the culture of your organization differently. LGBTQ2S employees, people of color, of different belief systems, people with disabilities and so on, contribute to and help shape your workplace culture.
Is there a shared sense of diversity? Inclusion? Sense of belonging?
Do people from all backgrounds and with a range of identities have equitable opportunities to advance their careers? What can your organization do better to advance diversity, equity and inclusion?
As long as you take the time to survey all your employees and segment results, you’ll be able to compare responses, find out what resonates best for each grouping and create relevant experiences to keep them inspired.
Schedule a demo today to see how WorkTango’s robust platform can make surveying, analyzing, and actioning survey results simple yet impactful.
5. Involve the Team via Collaboration
When employees feel they have a seat at the table, they’re inspired to go above and beyond. Seeking feedback can make people feel their opinion matters. That they have a lot to offer. And it can also be a good way to trigger innovation.
When employees are consulted on various matters, that collaborative involvement promotes a sense of satisfaction and value. Plus, feedback is a useful resource that can flush out gaps and opportunities, and pull back the curtain on individual skills that may have been hidden or overlooked.
6. Provide Learning Opportunities
A culture of continuous listening can be inspirational in and of itself.
As business analyst Josh Bersin expressed in Harvard Business Review, “research shows that opportunities for development have become the second most important factor in workplace happiness (after the nature of the work itself). At the most fundamental level, we are a neotenic species, born with an instinct to learn throughout our lives.”
Workplace learning consists of building up your employees’ skills to do their current jobs better or to prepare them for future roles. It’s a key part of showing support. And when employees feel you have their back, they’re inspired to give their best effort.
In the 2021 Workplace Learning report from LinkedIn, learning and development executives indicated upskilling and reskilling is their topmost priority.
The opportunity is there to lead the way. It’s a matter of how the concept of acquiring new or more advanced skills is approached.
If it’s positioned as a “must-do” requirement, employees are likely to feel their hand being forced, and possibly even worry about job security if they don’t have the bandwidth to keep up with mandated training.
But if workplace training is presented in a way that conveys a vested interest in an individual’s success, that person will feel valued, and stirred to reach for the stars.
With “learning in the flow of work” playing a more prevalent role in the workplace nowadays, the bonds between mentors (or coaches) and employees strengthens. The supportive encouragement between colleagues and respect for one another’s insights and skills strengthens too. “We can build solutions and experiences that make learning almost invisible in our jobs,” says Bersin, elaborating how Google and YouTube are two of the earliest “learning in the flow” platforms.
7. Incentivize Through the Right Compensation and Benefits Package
Compensation and benefits questions have long ranked poorly in employee surveys, which makes perfect sense given as a headline in Scientific American asserts: Aspiration Makes Us Human. These days, however, a desire for better compensation is more than human nature. It’s become more tightly woven into the fabric of employee experience. It’s perceived as a measure of individual worth, and we know feeling valued contributes to the inspiration continuum.
Further, as the turnover tsunami slams into businesses worldwide, “companies across the U.S. economy are raising pay to recruit workers in a tight labor market” the Wall Street Journal reports, noting that increases “are rippling through firms and prompting employers to rethink pay for existing staffers,” too.
Organizations have limitations, of course, nonetheless this matter is a weighty one throughout the entire employee lifecycle. Not just when negotiating at the hiring table. Otherwise, perceptions of inequity could plant seeds of distrust and lead to speculation about whether your organization has the best interest of employees at heart – all of which is counterintuitive to producing inspiration. Salary transparency can help abate misconceptions.
8. Focus on Leadership
Leaders are one of the single most important sources of inspiration in the workplace.
Does an employee’s direct manager share useful and timely feedback? Do they follow through on commitments? Do they provide the autonomy needed for individuals to do their job?
What about senior leadership: do they demonstrate that employees are valued? Do they make employees enthusiastic about the future of the organization?
Survey feedback will reveal stellar management and flag opportunities for leadership development and growth.
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Arthur Ward, American motivational writer
9. Provide a Safe and Trusting Environment
I feel comfortable to voice my opinion, even when it differs from the group opinion.
I feel safe and comfortable when I come to work.
I regularly take risks at work.
I feel comfortable bringing my authentic self to work including all parts of my background and identity.
There is an atmosphere of trust at my organization.
Positive responses to the above survey statements as well as other diversity, equity, and inclusion queries, are an affirmation that you’re on the right inspirational track. An environment that not only welcomes but encourages people to be who they are without any form of “editing” is an environment destined to inspire.
10. Align Around a Mission and Purpose
Inspiration also comes in the shape of an organization’s mission, vision and values. People of all generations want to align themselves with something greater than themselves. But it’s a view that’s particularly near and dear to the hearts of Millennials and Gen Zers. The Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey, for instance, reveals that these two generations demand social change and accountability. “After…intense uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, political instability, racial discord, and severe climate events, Millennials and Gen Zs around the world are determined to hold themselves and others accountable on society’s most pressing issues.” Employers included.
The report goes on to say that 44% of Millennials and 49% of Gen Zers make “choices over the type of work they are prepared to do or organizations they’d work for based on personal ethics.”
Is your organization a diverse and inclusive workplace?
Does the mission and purpose of your organization make employees feel their job is important?
Show how your organization is committed to and actually making a difference. Create a statement of purpose for your organization that people can get behind. That gets employees excited and engaged. That can be tracked and measured and adjusted as progress evolves. An inspired sense of purpose will follow.
As McKinsey suggests: when employees feel that their purpose is aligned with the organization’s purpose, the benefits expand to include stronger employee engagement, heightened loyalty, and a greater willingness to recommend the company to others.
11. Create Forums for Recognition
When employees get recognition is it because they did good work? Do your employees believe they receive regular recognition or praise for doing good work? These sorts of question get to the kind of feedback that drive inspiration.
In an ideal situation, your employees’ responses to these questions are an overwhelming “yes”. Because as Gallup so rightly explains: “Workplace recognition motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment and makes employees feel valued for their work.” And being recognized as a valued contributor, as we know, is an inspirational way to boost levels of employee engagement.
12. When You Act on Feedback, Shout it to the Rooftops
Talk is cheap. Action is the currency of inspirational employers.
Do your people believe action will take place as a result of the feedback they give in employee surveys? Have they seen action as a result of past surveys?
Let’s hope so. Otherwise, if feedback disappears into an abyss of secrecy or inaction, survey efforts are all for naught.
Share findings as quickly as possible to convey that you’re paying attention.
Be transparent about feedback. Invite more input with follow-up pulse surveys, one on ones and group discussions.
Explain where and how and why the organization is focusing its efforts as a result.
Follow up with more questions to make sure initiatives are achieving intended outcomes.
Share these findings too, alongside measurements stats gauging any changes.
When results are stellar, sing those results to the rafters.
When results are off the mark, share those too. Dig for more input.
Transparency establishes a sense of ownership, of trust. People know the employee voice is being heard. And when they see the fruits of their candor, when they see their employer acting on feedback, they’re inspired to share insights without reservation, as often as they’re asked.
The Fruits of a More Inspirational Workplace Culture
Ultimately, creating a more inspirational workplace culture leads to greater happiness. Employees are more engaged but also have a greater sense of well-being. Not only is the likelihood of absenteeism and burnout reduced, but employees also find themselves applying discretionary effort. We hope you find these 12 ways useful to better inspire your employees.
Check out our guides on workplace culture, employee engagement, and employee surveys. Learn about every aspect of a successful employee voice initiative!
Watch the webinar, Happy employees, happy customers: how Purposeful Workplace Experiences create inspired and empowered teams that drive results