How to promote unity in the workplace

Ask yourself, are you really doing enough for employee experience?

How to promote unity in the workplace

Inclusion and unity are more important now than ever before. The events of the past few months have rocked our beliefs, changed our priorities, and revolutionized the way we go about our work. Through it all, one overriding characteristic came to the fore – trust. Or, more specifically, maintaining a culture of trust between employer and employee. 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 – with 58% of people citing a total lack of trust impacts their personal career choices. In the face of such data, it’s incumbent on HR leaders to do more in building up trust in their companies and their teams by fostering a united workplace environment.

Have a sympathetic ear

The first step to unity is communication – or, more importantly, listening. A recent report in Forbes revealed that employees who feel their voice is heard are actually 4x more likely to perform well. Sadly, all too often, HR leaders rush in, guns blazing, wanting to dole out initiatives to save the day. But how can you build trust if you don’t first ask your people what they’d like to see done? Surveying employees is an excellent place to start. Roll out some company-wide pulse questionnaires asking how you can help realistically support your employees. Ask for feedback – and really take note of the negative. Lots of great HRIS technologies already have inbuilt survey reminders – such as BambooHR, which also encourages peer-to-peer feedback. Good to note, when you consider that 89% of HR leaders agree that ongoing peer-to-peer feedback is critical to overall success.

Don’t micromanage, let employees work independently

One of the worst offenders when it comes to promoting unity is HR’s tendency to micromanage. As we’ve switched to remote working, employers are keen to monitor staff productivity and ramp up engagement. Yes, of course it’s important to keep morale high, but is counterproductive to schedule mandatory ‘wellbeing’ checks every single day. Understand that sometimes people just want to be left to get on with it. One of the simplest ways to achieve this is by switching off the web cam, as Chris Mullen, executive director of The Workforce Institute at UKG, told HRD.

Read more: COVID fatigue? Leadership tips to revitalise your team

“There’s a lot of research coming out on that talks about or video fatigue,” he explained. “This is really starting to impact employee wellbeing. When I do one-on-ones with my team, I don’t make them turn on their video. It’s much nicer to chat over the phone when you’re having an afternoon stroll.”

Be careful when rolling out competition-based programs

The old adage that competition fuels innovation may well be true under normal circumstances – but in the midst of a crisis it can turn disparaging. If you want to incentivise your people through competition-based programs, tread carefully. A recent report from Baudville found that the average workforce comprises of just 10% high performers – as such, constant competitions in which high performers inevitably win leads to poor self-esteemed for the rest of the 90%.

Read more: Will hybrid working create 'second-class' employees?

Furthermore, let’s remember that excitement and anxiety are very different things – what inspires eagerness in some employees is a catalyst for fear in others. Instead, try personalizing recognition. Take a look at what inspires individuals on your team and cater to that instead. It may take up more time, but it’s certainly worth it.

Lead by example

Probably the most important aspect of any new HR initiative is leading by example. As HR professionals, we get caught in a cycle of ‘do as I say, not as I do’. It’s no surprise that HR practitioners are amongst the most overworked of employees – with workloads only ramping up since COVID-19 took over. According to People Management’s survey, HR leaders feel overwhelmed at least once a month – with mental health issues in the industry on the rise. When it comes to promoting unity in the workplace, you need to set an example. It’s all well and good promoting work-life balance, but if your team sees you working 15 hours a day, forgoing weekends, it’s not giving much weight to your ‘wellbeing schemes’.

Communicate expectations often

When you do choose to communicate with your people, lay out all expectations clearly. Communication is one of the most important aspects of a well put together culture. When people feel like they know what is needed of them, and they receive constructive feedback from their managers, they’re more likely to be invested in the company as a whole. Research from UKG found that 70% of employees believe their ongoing relationship with their manager is an extremely important factor in remaining with a company – so don’t let that slide.

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