What’s Really Brewing in the Mouse and Man Office?
Flexibility Leads to Happier Employees
Employees want flexibility more than anything else (at least that’s what ours tell us). They want to be able to work when and where they want. If employees don’t need to be in the office, then they don’t want to be. The office dynamic is changing. Cubicles are a thing of the past. More young professionals are starting to believe in the philosophy, “I can work anywhere and on my time.” And some company’s are starting to comply with these demands.
These questions come to mind:
- What are companys doing to engage and inspire employees?
- What are people doing to inspire themselves…and each other?
Millennials are Special Employees
Compared to their predecessors, there’s a difference in the employee engagement rates of millennials. According to a Gallup survey, as many as 71 percent of 20- and 30-somethings have mentally checked out of their job. So, not only are younger people not engaged – the numbers indicate a complete disconnection with work. Why is their engagement so low?
Many millennials don’t want to be a part of the daily grind, but at the same time, they want to feel as if they are a part of the company. They want to feel as though their work matters. Not to mention, being recognized for making a difference and that what they do really has an impact on shaping the company. When this generation doesn’t feel as though they’re contributing towards the greater good, they start to look elsewhere.
(Side note – How about an app which tracks employee’s engagement with LinkedIn? Presumably higher engagement equals less satisfaction. Contact me if you to wish talk further here. )
Other studies show similar stats. Many employees won’t stay with a company for more than a few years, especially if they’re not happy. Other generations would stay in their job even if they’re not happy because that’s what they were “supposed to do”. Millennials have the same desire for this healthy work-life balance; however society is more excepting of this new way or working (and living). Perhaps some of this stems from seeing their parents working long days and being stuck in the office for hours on end. They don’t want THAT life for themselves and for their own families, so they, and in part, we are changing it.
So these questions arise:
- How do you cultivate happiness in your company?
- Is flexibility in your workplace, like work from home or remote work, a consideration?
A meaningful job makes for happy employees. But how do you make the job more meaningful? How about sitting down and talking about it? Talk with your employees (not to them) and find out what they have to say. Most employees are willing to be blatantly honest (when they understand their honesty doesn’t have negative repercussions and won’t get them fired.)
Allow your employees to be in control of their job. Micro-managing is the worst thing to do, and employees don’t tolerate it for long. You also want to make sure they are able to learn new skills and gain a greater understanding of what is being done at the job.
In order to make the job more meaningful, you have to make a direct connection between effort and reward. When your employees see their hard work pay off, they’re going to gain a higher level of satisfaction from doing the job.
And if you’ve already bought into this idea, or are interested in trying out a remote workplace, the idea of providing meaningful work might seem a little more challenging. This is when you can use things like video conferencing in order to communicate with your employees. The face-to-face isn’t totally lost and you’re able to make sure everyone is aware of what’s going while employees are still dialed into the mission at hand.
Your remote employees can also stay engaged by keeping in touch with others. Just because there’s no water cooler to gather around doesn’t mean that there can’t be camaraderie in place. Use a messaging system so people can communicate and run ideas by each other. Use web whiteboards to help with collaboration, and use technology to keep everyone connected. This will ensure no one feels as though they are on an island while you give them the flexibility that they crave.
According to Forbes, as many as 45 percent of millennials would take a pay cut if it meant more flexibility. So if you are looking to run a more profitable company, perhaps more flexible schedules are something to test?
If your employee has to be in the office because of a meeting or because of some other task, then they understand the reason for it. However, the average employee today is going to do the majority of their work on a computer. If they can unplug that computer and go anywhere, then why do they have to be limited to the office? As long as there is a WiFi connection, they will have access to the network, all of their files, and even the programs that they need. When they’re in a happier environment, whether it’s at home or at a coffee shop, they’re going to do better work. Isn’t this (way) more important than being able to see them inside of a cubicle when you walk by?
More companies are learning to let their employees unplug – and it’s offering flexibility. We at Mouse and Man tried the big official office for a while to see if it would work for us. The assumption was that clients would want to come in to meet with us, and we would have all kinds of remarkable brainstorming sessions. It was candidly an epic failure mainly in part because we lost some of our flexibility. While the office was nice, we felt confined. This perhaps had a negative impact on the kind of work we were able to churn out. The moment we went back to a more flexible setup, like co-working and coffee shops and meeting “out” with our clients, it allowed us to be happier, and at the end of the day, more productive (and profitable).
I have to say – happier employees make it a lot easier to go to work every day. It means more quality work, more productive hours, and happier clients as well. A happy employee is bound to interact with clients on a higher level and this is vital when you want to develop loyalty. Clients go where they get the best customer service. When you offer flexibility, employees are happier and this is a better business move for so many reasons.