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In my not-so-humble opinion (Part I)

Healthy Workplaces

This week the list of 2016 winners of Canada’s Top 100 Employers came out as an insert in the Globe and Mail. I was reading about the categories that determine whether or not an organization is a top employer and I wondered if those categories really reflect the qualities that are truly valued by the average employee. In my not so humble opinion, the workplaces where employees feel valued, respected and supported are the workplaces that we should be awarding but many of those workplaces cannot afford the application fee required to participate in the competitions. Their focus is not on the bottom line. They do not work their people to the bone and create work environments that mimic homes and recreation areas so that employees are more comfortable working the hours that are expected of them. So many of the criteria seem superficial to me. Perhaps that is because the criteria that I think would reflect a quality organization where star employees thrive and are driven to succeed for their own growth and satisfaction are criteria that require some hard core reflection and work on the part of the leaders.

For those of you who have not read the results of Canada’s top 100 Employers, here are the criteria upon which top employers are evaluated:

  1. Physical workplace

  2. Work atmosphere and social

  3. Health, financial and family benefits

  4. Vacation and time off

  5. Employee communications

  6. Performance management

  7. Training and skills development

  8. Community involvement

Don’t get me wrong, all of the criteria are important and many of the organizations that won are likely doing fabulous things and they may even really be great places to work but what is really required to make a great workplace? What’s required beyond vacation time, benefits, pension, physical workspace, community involvement, etc.? In my not so humble opinion, to get beyond the surface of those packages what’s required is sincere and effective leadership that is modelled at the top and permeates throughout the organization. All of those criteria will draw employees into an organization and perhaps become the golden handcuffs that keep them there but in this day in age when what’s required more than ever are employees that are innovative and passionate about what they do—workplaces are going to have to put practices into place that scratch beneath the surface and demand a leadership culture that inspires and supports passionate and productive employee performance. Are we there yet?

I would argue that despite the results of these numerous competitions, we have a long way to go. There are a lot of wonderful leaders out there but to find an organization with consistently great leaders located throughout the same organization is perhaps difficult to find, for so many reasons—but that’s a topic for another blog. Yet, that is what is required to create a great place to work. It starts at the top, the very top. The leader at the very top has to want consistent leadership behaviours and practices in their workplace. They have to be like a dog with a bone insisting that those behaviours and practices be in place throughout their organizations. They must hold their leaders accountable with regard to those behaviours and practices and they have to know what’s going on in their organization. So much responsibility, but that’s why they get paid the big bucks (and for some those bucks are really big)! It rests on their shoulders. The shoulders of the person at the top. Without that modeling, demand and support for those leadership behaviours and practices an organization can offer all of the perks in the world but those perks will not result in the kind of employee commitment required to succeed in our rapidly changing world.

Effective leadership behaviours and practices are not rocket science, they really come down to common sense but unfortunately that sense is not commonly or consistently practiced in most workplaces around the world.

Click here to sign up and download the free PDF: Top 5 Leadership Practices required for Healthy Leadership Culture. Next time, I’ll give you some behaviours!

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