Executive Insider

It’s Time to ReImagine the Workplace Experience: How to Get Employees to Buy Into Your Vision.

Donna Cutting

When it comes to the future of the workplace and employee experience, one thing is sure. What worked in the past is not what will work in the future. The world is going through a collective values readjustment, as evidenced by the Great Resignation, and the demands for more flexibility, higher pay, remote or hybrid working options, and safe working conditions are only going to get louder. It’s time for a great reassessment of your company culture and a great reimagining of the employee experience.

You might be thinking to yourself, “I have some spectacular ideas for the future of our workplace! How do I get my employees to buy into them?” That’s a great question with an even better answer. Involve them.

The harsh truth is that, as a leader, you aren’t the best person to determine what the future of the employee experience should be. Your employees already know, and they’re telling you. You just have to listen. They may not know HOW to get it done, but they understand WHAT has to change. The key is to collaborate on creating the future workplace experience. Here are three steps to help you do that.

  1. Actively Listen.
    Start with your current employee feedback systems and review every score and comment with an open mind and a fresh perspective. To compete as an employer, you’re going to have to change some things. Your team members have probably been telling you all along what those changes should be, but you may not have been listening. It’s time to start. There’s no going back to the old way of recognition programs, pizza parties, checking mandatory training boxes, and calling it a day. It’s time to go deep and consider making significant changes to keep and attract team members. Don’t stop there, though.

    Hold focus groups and listening sessions. Have one-on-ones with your employees. Walk around and ask people for their feedback. Organize lunch with the boss events. Bring in a third party to facilitate the discussion.

    Ask team members the following three questions: What should we start doing? What should we stop doing? What should we continue doing? Better yet, here’s a novel idea: Ask your employees to come up with the questions. In the 2021 Explorance Employee Feedback Survey conducted by Wakefield Research, 21% of 2000 respondents stated that they don’t complete employee surveys because they don’t contain the right questions.

  1. Involve Them In the Process.
    On another note, 45% of respondents replied to the same question that they don’t see that their feedback changes anything. Perhaps you look at the input, set up committees, and make minor changes that don’t get noticed. Maybe you throw up your hands at the comments, roll your eyes, and make no changes at all. Or perhaps you’ve made significant improvements, but you didn’t inform your employees.

    Regardless, the best way to assure your team members that you hear their voices is to involve them in the improvement process. Pull together teams of people at ALL levels of the organization and transparently share the results of your listening sessions, surveys, and focus groups. Work together to complete a SWOT analysis of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

    Be transparent about the answers you have and the answers you don’t have. Your employees may know WHAT changes they’d like to see but not understand the obstacles in the way. Share the problem with them and then collaborate to develop a solution that’s a win for the team, your customers, and the organization.

    The changes in question may involve better scheduling practices, work-life balance, feeling valued, increased pay, more flexibility, emotional and physical safety, or other concerns. Bring the problem to the table and involve people at ALL levels of the organization in solving it. Collaborate to envision the future of the employee experience together.

  2. Empower Them to Evangelize.
    Once you have reimagined your workplace experience, enroll some of your hourly team members to spread the message and get others on board. Package your vision in curriculum, branding messages, and other materials that make it easy to share. Develop people with leadership potential, so they learn to become good spokespersons and facilitators of the mission and the message.

    For instance, you might have someone create a curriculum around some new standards you’ve established to support the new vision. Instead of relying on human resources to deliver those educational sessions, have Train-the-Trainer programs and develop the facilitation skills of people who will become ambassadors for the message. The simple act of empowering them in this way will gain their buy-in and excite them about sharing the vision with their peers. Their enthusiasm will be contagious!

The best way to get employees on board with “your vision” is to ask them to co-create it with you and empower them to be an integral part of driving the change.

Written by Donna Cutting.

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Donna Cutting
Donna Cutting is the Founder & CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Worldwide and an organizational culture consultant who helps leaders create cultures of happy, caring people who deliver red-carpet customer service. She's the author of 3 books including "501 Ways to Roll Out the Red-Carpet for Your Customers" (Career Press, 2015) and "Employees First! Inspire, Engage and Focus on the Heart of Your Organization" (Career Press, 2022).

Donna Cutting is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow her on LinkedIn.