There are a lot of articles bemoaning the fact that employees aren’t engaged. These articles explain why employees may disengage from their organization. They don’t necessarily identify a framework to help those organizations become and remain attractive to their employees.
According to Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones in their book, Why Should Anyone Work Here?, employees today are much more focused on accountability, transparency, responsiveness, and the opportunity to grow and develop. They suggest that organizations that are authentic and have integrity will be better at attracting and retaining employees.
They have noted six qualities that will help organizations meet employee needs. As you may have guessed, the acronym for these qualities forms the word DREAMS: Difference, Radical Honesty, Extra Value, Authenticity, Meaning, and Simple Rules.
Goffee and Jones have translated these qualities into specific steps:
1. Attract and Encourage Differences. By differences, they mean different ways of doing things. An organization will thrive when it has employees who have different perspectives, experiences, and attitudes. This mix can lead to great creativity, as long as the individuals are allowed to be themselves. This means that set policies and procedures that stifle individuality and creativity will have to go.
2. Be Radically Honest. Employees need to be able to trust the information that management gives them. Organizations that take the initiative to communicate openly and completely can silence the rumor mill. This honesty has to go both ways, so employees need to be encouraged to provide honest, if sometimes critical, feedback without fear of reprisal. There are two exceptions: employees should not use this request for honesty as an excuse to hurt or bully others, and it is understood that there will be times when management must maintain confidentiality.
3. Add Extra Value to People’s Strengths. The emphasis is on staff development and job crafting (building jobs that develop or take advantage of employees’ skills and abilities). Staff development can take many forms. This includes sabbaticals for employees to have experiences that take them beyond their usual roles, and formal improvement plans for employees who are struggling. Staff development also pertains to teams. When team members’ job-specific and interpersonal skills are strengthened, the team can assume greater responsibilities.
4. Emphasize Authenticity. Goffee and Jones define authentic organizations as ones that have a strong sense of identity, a set of values that people respect, and leaders who model those values. Leaders can develop authenticity by: recognizing their strengths and challenges; adhering to their core values; openly sharing their thoughts and hopes; and modeling the behaviors that they expect of others. Employees also need to know the organization’s mission and vision, which are hopefully consistent with their own.
5. Make Work Meaningful. Employees need to understand where they fit in the organization, how the different teams or departments interact, and what impact their work has on others. There should be no silos in the organization. Employees should feel like integral parts of a thriving, supportive and interconnected community.
6. Keep Rules Simple. For rules to be useful, they need to be “clear, workable, fair, and widely agreed upon.” Employees are much more likely to follow rules when they understand the reasons behind them. However, organizations need to eliminate the outdated and unnecessary rules and procedures. They also need to review, revise and simplify the rules and procedures they retain. Goffee and Jones point out that less rules are needed as employees prove themselves to be trustworthy.
So, where is your organization in relation to these DREAMS?
About the Author
Deborah Spring Laurel is the President of Laurel and Associates, a certified woman-owned small business that builds and strengthens managerial, employee development and technical skills through the design and delivery of participatory classroom training on a national and international basis.