Are false promises killing your company culture?

Failing to follow through on promises risks losing top talent

Are false promises killing your company culture?

False promises are damaging the employer-employee relationship, as more and more people look for companies that follow through on key issues. That’s according to workplace consultant Jason Greer, who told HRD that while employers are under pressure to fix toxic cultures, employees are growing bolder in voicing their HR concerns.

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“The biggest mistake leaders make is not tapping into the ideas and creativity of their employees,” Greer told HRD. “Your employees are literally on the front line of the company. They know what efforts the company should be focusing on, but so often their perspectives are pushed aside. Instead, spend time with your employees, listen to them and then act on their ideas.”

The importance of trust in leadership has grown exponentially since the pandemic. A recent report from The Workforce Institute at UKG found that 64% of employees believe trust has a direct impact on their sense of belonging at work. What’s more, 58% of employees we surveyed said that a total lack of trust affects their career choices – with 24% of those people having left a company as a direct result. In order to really make a difference, to change toxic cultures, employers need to build on this trust through open and honest conversations.

“Listen,” added Greer. “Go out there and talk to employees. Talk to them as you come in in the morning and really hear them. Are they complaining about their commute? Parking? Imagine how many other people feel the same. What can you do as the boss to help? Often, we don’t listen to each other enough at work and passing conversations can be an excellent way to informally get your finger on the pulse.

“We encourage managers to set up official feedback opportunities, 1:1’s and conducting exit interviews. This provides you with data points so you can start to see trends. If you have several employees asking for a specific change, it’s time to prioritize that one. You can also document their proposed solutions. Are they in agreement on anything? Start there. You get a lot of jaded employers who don’t want to do this work, but you have to because the alternative is waning support among your employee base, reduced profit or potentially losing workers altogether who enter the job search instead.”

Aside from feedback and exit interviews, HR needs to go one step further in keeping any promises they make. All too often, employers roll out surveys and request comments and then fail to act on the insights. If employees don’t see you taking their opinions and suggestions into account, then they’ll simply stop believing you’re sincere.

“You can demonstrate your accountability by following up and communicating about changes you’ve made, particularly when they were specifically requested by employees,” said Greer. “Ultimately, employers and managers are responsible for workplace morale, but they have an easy super hidden power in employees.

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“It’s also critical to admit that you’re not the expert. You want to learn more and that’s why you’re initiating this process and soliciting feedback. This can immediately lower their defences and align with you as a unit facing the issue together. However, workers also know when you’re not invested and this can come across as disingenuous so the best way to show your authenticity is through commitment, vulnerability and listening.”

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