Recently, my colleagues and I took several road (and air) trips to visit client sites and interview their employees. Part of a larger effort around improving the organization’s culture, we were focused on gathering honest, real-time feedback from employees on their current workplace experience. That is the beauty of a third party collecting qualitative input—people feel more comfortable sharing what they really think when the familiar face is removed.

After speaking with people from all walks of the company—plant operations, HR, communications, senior leadership, finance, etc.—some common themes kept bubbling up to the surface. These themes are many of the same ones we hear no matter what industry or organization we go to. Here’s what we heard employees need to see more of at work:

That is the beauty of a third party collecting qualitative input—people feel more comfortable sharing what they really think when the familiar face is removed.Click To Tweet

Proof of Action. When something at work needs fixing—whether it’s the organizational culture, security protocols or the beloved Keurig—employees need to know their company is doing something about it. At our site visits and during interviews, people commented that seeing us there was welcomed proof that their organization was taking action to address the cultural challenges. Action to resolve an issue is a sign of commitment – walk that talk! And overall, employees will feel heard if they see steps being taken to fix the problem.

Clear Communication. A nice accoutrement to the aforementioned proof of action: tell employees the action being taken (and why). Many times, companies are working behind the scenes to make improvements to things like company culture, with action being a ways off. Still, communicate that to employees. Tell them the organization is currently evaluating and forming a plan, even if there’s nothing to show for it just yet. Employees will at least know their voices were heard and that action is coming. While on the road, the people we interacted with at the company were satisfied to know action was being taken—they saw it happening through our interviews and conversations. But what about the thousands of other employees we didn’t speak to? A simple “we heard you, and we’re working on it” type of company-wide communication would go a long way.

Recognition. This is so important and something we hear all the time. Employees want to feel valued and appreciated beyond their paycheck. Formal and informal recognition is critical to maintaining an engaged workforce. Some of our interviewees recounted their “last best day at work” as one that included some type of recognition. It stuck out for them and they remembered it. Recognizing people for their work matters! How you implement recognition should be reflective of the organizational culture and feel authentic to the company and its people. A great way to start is by recognizing employees who are bringing your culture and values to life in their everyday work.

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