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A HEALTHY workplace culture is the best bet for happy employees and low turnover.
That statement applies as much in a small family-scale cattle operation with a single employee, as it does in a feedlot employing 35 staff, or a meatworks employing hundreds.
If you’re wondering what the culture is like in your business, consider the disposition of the people who work with you.
If employees seem disengaged or under constant stress, it could be a symptom of a bad work environment. While there isn’t a quick fix, improving workplace culture is possible if everyone – not just people with responsibility for HR – puts in some effort.
Below are six tips for thoughtfully improving workplace culture throughout any agribusiness:
Invest in Diversity and Inclusion
The Harvard Business Review warns that though the words diversity and inclusion have become intrinsically linked, they don’t mean the same thing and, if you don’t invest in both, it’s possible to have one without the other.
Investing in diversity starts with recruiting. Are there any barriers in your application process? For example, do you advertise job opportunities in a wide variety of sources to make sure that many different communities/social groups know about openings? For example, are older potential applicants as likely to see an opening on Facebook? Examine your company’s job descriptions and interview process. Do you know what diverse applicants are looking for in their work experience? Are you communicating your business’s strengths to that end?
Once you’ve achieved a diverse workforce, plan strategies to foster inclusion. One of the easiest ways is encouraging employees to talk about their experiences. For example, what are their day-to-day interactions like? Are there systems in place to ensure everyone feels welcome and included? One company established an internal ‘Women In Agriculture’ type forum, where female employees have an opportunity to connect with one another and hear from women leaders. The forum has created a community of advocates who support each other wholeheartedly, even after they leave the organisation.
Create an open door policy for feedback
The feeling of not having a voice or being heard is one of the top reasons employees leave a company. Consider ‘virtual listening’ by sending an anonymous annual workplace culture survey that will help better understand the highs and lows of working in your business from the employee perspective.
After the survey, recap the results and craft an action plan to show employees how you’re using their feedback. Be direct- tell them what will be changing and when. Fostering transparency and an open culture will set the tone all the way through the company.
Keep communication simple and in the same voice
Once you find the right tone, establish a company voice that will be used across all internal communication including newsletters, announcements, learning and development programs, and new hire training.
Strive for transparency in workplace culture
Strive for transparency by explaining the why, whenever possible. People care about the reasoning behind decisions. It’s also incredibly important to keep the message simple and direct. For example, which would you rather read in an email?
“If there are any points in this email which require further explanation for any such reason, we will be glad to provide such additional details, please just let us know.”
“If you have any questions, reach out to us directly.”
Keep it simple. Mean what you say and directly say what you mean. If time allows, get another manager to proofread communication before sending, to ensure the same voice and alignment for company-wide communications.
Strive for transparency. People care about the reasoning behind decisions.
Establish and live your core values
Align your ‘company voice’ with your company’s goals and core values. Whether you prioritise innovation, stewardship or gold-star customer service, clearly communicating the core values assures employees that they are part of something they can believe in. It also makes them feel accountable for seeing those values through.
But setting core values is only half of the equation. Where so many companies fail in this initiative are in the rollout, and in the consistent reinforcement of the values every day.
A few ways to make your values more recognisable is to put them on the walls in coffee room change-room or other gathering area, add them to your website, create employee-nominated core value awards and recognition programs, and align performance expectations and reviews to the values.
Ensure everyone knows their purpose
Core values must be actionable, meaning employees should be clear on how they can contribute to them on a daily basis. Carve-out time to let each employee know directly how their day-to-day work will impact the overall company momentum.
Mark Zuckerberg said in his commencement address to Harvard, “Purpose is that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves; that we are needed; that we have something better ahead to work for. Purpose is what creates true happiness.”
Helping your employees realise their internal workplace purpose will make them feel happier and want to stay at your company.
Spend time together beyond just work
Outside of work, it’s no secret that bonding with your co-workers beyond day-to-day operations in the paddock or feedlot induction facility or mill will improve workplace culture. A few simple ideas on how to quickly do this:
Give Back: Foster a culture of internal and external kindness. Get together as a group to work with a charity, allow employees to give volunteer hours without taking vacation time. Maybe its volunteering half-a-day to set up for the local rodeo, campdraft or races. When you set a tone from the leadership level of kindness, respect and giving back, it will be contagious throughout your organisation in a positive way.
Have some sober fun: While company-sponsored happy hours can be fun, consider catering to a wider range of your employee base by diversifying the time of the events and the activities. Try a night of Trivial Pursuit, or Poker.
Feed the man meat: People love food. Encourage spending time together by setting an occasional event that everyone has on their calendars and can step away from work and eat some delicious-company-provided grub.
Sweat it out: Build in budget for employees to participate in a local team triathalon, a Tough Mudder event or something similar.
There is no silver bullet to improving workplace culture. The key is to continue to listen to, invest in and support your employees, while remaining true to your overall business core values.
Source: Kati Ryan, https://www.ezcater.com/