Workplace Improvement 101

Jun 06, 2016 at 01:16 pm by Staff

Workplace Improvement initiatives continue to be a priority regardless of the nature of business. As a small veteran owned business, I am faced with many of the same concerns that loom over all businesses today, regardless of the industry. There is a concern of how to qualify, train, mentor and retain personnel to fill vacancies that will be left by the retirement of current employees, the relocation or job shifts of some, or the necessary turnover of employees with inadequate skills, training, or work habits.

The National Association for Workplace Improvement's (NAWI), goal is to work with their members in spearheading and coordinating the link between business and educational facilities in order to insure that a new supply of top quality educated and trained individuals are prepared to enter the manufacturing and technical workforce.

In the area of medical and healthcare related professionals, that same concern for maintaining a consistent pool of qualified talent has been projected by the Alliance of Health Reform. In their April 2011 publication, they shared the results and the specifics of the medical profession's future employee needs. The conclusions of their exhaustive research into the current and future critical supply shortage of needed healthcare personnel are alarming. Recognizing the talent drain and mobilizing programs to attract and promote adequate replacements is part of the supply side solution.

And, it is estimated that over the next several years the 78 million currently employed baby boomers will be retiring. The Gen X'ers to replace them is a population estimated at only 44 million. The fact is the current pool of available personnel is dwindling. Knowing that future demands will be increasing while the supply of available talent is decreasing will require active intuitive initiatives by business leadership to avert the effects of this looming shortage. As demand becomes greater and the human supply is lessened, the options for available good talent are greatly diminished. Perhaps the goal of attracting and retaining good talent must be even more of a priority.

An alternative resource to re-address may be to revisit the basics of good management techniques. Techniques that encourage the current staff to extend their work life by the options presented, changes implemented, and dividends offered. Perhaps this focus on employee retention efforts may better assist in bridging the gap between today's diminishing talent pool and tomorrow's needs.

Yes, I realize these basics have made their rounds through past years. But often, after the directive to implement is passed, their underlying purpose is forgotten or neglected due to the throng of daily pressures and responding to other regulatory demands. However, according to recent reported employee satisfaction surveys, overall employee satisfaction is down to 45 percent. Among employees in the 25-34 age group satisfaction is 35.7 percent. Maybe a review of the basics is timely.

This recent study affirms that Frederick Herzberg's list of Dissatisfiers and Motivators is still a valid concept for evaluating employee job satisfaction.

Human Resource experts agree these reminders should be revisited to aid in the retention of your current employee talent. Remember, just knowing the buzz words or adding a consultant does not change the workplace.

List of Dissatisfiers:

Company policies and administration, Supervision, Working conditions, Interpersonal relations, Salary, Status, Job security, Co-workers, and Personal life

List of Motivators:

Recognition for accomplishments, Achievement, Advancement, Growth, Responsibility, Creative and challenging work

A few management reminders:

  • Management by walking around works and is effective because employees see upper management in their work area. If added with encouraging words, it does wonders to demonstrate, "What you are doing is important."
  • Management shows up when things are not going well. Just as important is to be seen when things are going well.
  • Reminding and retraining the supervisory staff of the impact they have by the words they speak and the actions to take. According to exit interviews the vast majority of employees do not leave the job or the company but, they leave the managers and supervisors who made staying next to impossible.
  • An understanding of the expectations within a framework that allows participation and input. Looking at the current staff as a unit of production instead of a customer or team member robs people of their identity and diminishes their desire to tap into what has been described as "discretionary energy". They may think, "I could give more, but if this is all you want from me, this is all you will get."
  • Provide changes in the work environment that will influence health and job satisfaction and reduce absentee rates. Often small changes that are important and initiated by employees are greater that those that come from outside consultants. Things such as fully functioning air handlers and lighting, appropriate and functional furnishings, updated technologies, health club memberships, and the availability of nutritional advisors.
  • Some basic but thoughtfully and carefully implemented employee recognition delivered from sincere supervisory personnel is invaluable. Plaques are nice but sincere words of appreciation spoken outside of the official program are more impactful. Catch and reward employees for doing the right thing as it happens.
  • Give them the forum to tell their story of why they chose their profession. Remembering why they chose and programs that give them opportunities to tell their story helps remind them of the difference they are making in the lives around them. Newsletters can offer this opportunity.

Douglas McGregor and his Theory X - Theory Y is still a means to understand how management often makes assumptions about employees that either help or hinder employee motivation. Theory X - Employees must be coerced to perform; Theory Y -Employees like work and can exercise self-direction. Managers who lean toward Theory X will negatively impact employee retention.

The most effective employee retention is spawned by leadership that demonstrates an attitude of appreciation for all people and recognizes their unique personality. They can blend that contribution into a vibrant and effective service delivery team.

Sean Lindahl, President of B&L Office Solutions, was actively engaged in a variety of business settings before starting B&L in 2007. From their Casselberry, Florida corporate office they serve the greater Orlando area.

B&L Office Solutions is a certified veteran owned business and is a one stop shop for office furniture; selling both new and used; delivering; installing; space planning; handling office relocations, reconfigurations, and liquidations. Sean can be reached at