The hardest-working, fastest employee is the most effective and productive employee, right? Ironically, effective employees become more effective and creative when hectic and high stress environments are minimized. High productivity stems from employee satisfaction. The challenge for you, as a CEO, is to create a workplace where strong communication, a community culture, and healthy work environments trigger a job satisfying level of productivity and creativity. Ask yourself three questions to make it possible.
1. How do your employees communicate with each other?
Your employees will notify you or HR when they are taking a vacation or taking a day off with the kids. A productive office also has a format to let the rest of the staff know whether that person is out, traveling, or working with a client for an afternoon. A missing employee can remain accessible to other staff when the limits of how and when to contact that employee are respected.
You, as the CEO, can easily design a structure that allows an employee to effectively identify their whereabouts (i.e. – home, conference, lunch, vacation). Newer office phone systems offer a variety of “away” options with one or two simple clicks. Employees can be encouraged to share their phone numbers in case an emergency contact is needed – with the understanding that a private cell number shouldn’t be shared outside of the office. Remote sharing of office data is widely available, allowing certain employees to work at a virtual office. Employees like this option and easily adapt to knowing they still need to be “reachable” by others within the office.
Employees also need to be able to easily reach their managers. When a manager is reachable by phone, email, text, and other sources, the expression of open door policy is reaffirmed. When a manager has some availability in the off-hours, it encourages employees to find similar availabilities. Being able to reach others makes powerful and effective decision-making easier.
2. Do your employees feel like they are part of a workplace community?
An employee should feel comfortable sharing their personal experiences and skills at work, even when the experience is not directly related to their job description. At the next staff meeting, try to encourage a few minutes of personal chat, rather than all business all the time. Developing a community in addition to being a workplace makes employees happier. Create an inclusive workplace by learning about each other’s differences and understanding when a particular employee has a special need for time off that varies from the standard work shift for family or religion. The CEO understanding these needs will create an employee base that respects each other. Habits, language, clothing, opinions, and decision-making styles are all variations to take into consideration.
3. Does your workplace have well designed shared and independent work environments?
Item 1, above, identified how to reach someone when they are out. There also needs to be a way to identify when a period of time has been reserved for no disruptions. Your top employee may need to sit down and write up a report. Do they have a quiet room where a door can be closed? Does the computer calendar tell others that they are busy? Does the phone allow all calls to go to voicemail? Are other employees easily made aware not to enter their work space? Working in solitude all day, every day, is not what is being suggested. Rather, the ability to occasionally work independently makes for a healthy workplace as not everyone can work well in an open office.
Employees should also have spaces where it is easy to work together in teams and share information. The ability to have a space to work together, as well as alone, makes for a well-designed work environment. This can lead to better efficiencies when digital filing systems work well between departments, without everyone filing their own way, eliminating redundancy. Printer stations and file rooms can also be strategically placed away from workstations for efficiency and noise reduction.
A great CEO can develop a greater work team by promoting improved forms of communication, culture, and environment. Without it, a team experiences decline in performance, abused time off, time waste, complaints and productivity decline. And who wants that?