To my HR Peers,
When I first saw that the theme for this year’s SHRM Conference was Creating Better Workplaces I honestly thought it was a little lack luster. Of course every HR professional is hoping to make their workplace better. But it stayed with me and I found I kept thinking about it. Not as something to hope for, but as something to work for. What if every day, our purpose as HR leaders was to create a better workplace? Not next month, not next year or hopefully over the long haul, but today. I started thinking of what that would look like. Below are a few of my thoughts and baby steps we can all take toward creating a better workplace. If you are attending the conference, I hope you will come say hello. I will be hanging out with my favorite people in Booth #506. Or you can connect with me on social media or follow the blog. Let’s do this together. -Dana, The HR Investigator
Creating Better Workplaces – The first 3 baby steps.
#1 – Let them see you laugh. Or better yet, find a reason to laugh with them. In HR everything we do is so intense. We are often seen as the dark cloud that walks in the room. But it is important to remember that HR is not who we are, it is what we do. Laughter is an amazing way to connect with people through diverse cultures, ages and lifestyles. Through laughter, we all speak the same language. So, take 10 minutes out of each day and walk around to a different area to interact on a lighter level with the employees.
Here’s an example: You know that Tony who works in the lab is a soccer coach. On Monday morning, stop by the lab and tell Tony you went to your son’s soccer game on Saturday and were walking by the field of the 3-5 year-olds when mid game one of the kids saw a squirrel and ran after it. Next thing you know all the kids on the field were chasing the squirrel and the soccer ball just sat there in the middle of the field. Not just Tony, but all the workers in the room will have a lighter moment in their day.
#2 – Teach kindness. It may seem a little elementary, but these days more than ever we need to teach people how to be kind. It is very apparent that we are amid a very “me” focused society. Consider how often you walk down the street and see people walking toward you with earbuds in looking at their phone and think, “If I just kept going straight this person will walk right into me.”
To build a culture around kindness we must first shine a light on what kind behaviors look like. You might start by putting awareness messages in company communications (intranet, social platforms, in breakrooms, etc.) The next step would be to encourage employees to share “moments of kindness” they experience in the workplace. And most importantly, get your management and executive teams on board with emulating kindness whenever and wherever they can, every day. A small change can go a long way.
#3 – Cultivate respect. Where kindness is about action, respect is more communication based. It’s not only what is said, but how it is said. The more diverse your workforce, the more challenging it can be to define respect. We all see respect through different lenses based on our cultural upbringing and diverse social norms. As such, respect cannot not be defined by one person or group of people.
If your company is small enough, maybe you set up a white board or virtual e-board on which you can ask employees to define respect. For larger companies, you can create a discussion group or survey to define what respectful behaviors and communications are required. The key to a successful journey in building respect into your company culture is including as many people as you can in the process, communicating the results, and holding people accountable to respectful interactions. For today…..be the example.
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