What are the key aspects that affect the working environment of organizations? It is certainly a fundamental question because, if we do not detect them, we can never understand how to improve it, what is failing, or even know if something is failing. In my previous article “Benefits and risks of the study of the work environment” I already discussed about the importance of organizations taking this issue seriously. Now, I want to go a little further and go deep into the hot spots of the working environment. I mainly detect 8 topics:
1. Formal corporate aspects of the company. In this category I include:
- Working hours: we must consider whether they are flexible, if they are good, if they adapt to employee’s needs, the level of presenteeism we have, etc. Bear in mind that today, working hours are starting to be as important as salaries.
- Workload of the different departments: we need to assess, for example, if it is equitable.
- Location of the company: consider how long it takes for employees to get to work and the effort, they make to be there every day.
- Holidays: when can they take them, flexibility to take them, etc.
- Permits: there are companies where you need to sign, while others start from a relationship of trust.
On this last point, it’s worth pointing out that control does not always have to be seen as something negative. Rather, it is a double-edged sword. Let’s think about someone who is completely engaged, who has been working for more hours than it is demanded. Hours control allows for this to be recorded and enables the organization to consider this overexertion beyond subjective perception, because it is supported by data. For example, in companies where overtime is paid, it is very valuable information.
The control is positive if there is a good culture, a culture of recognition and not of punishment. However, in large companies, control is important because there is no way to manage it easily. In smaller organizations of up to 30 people, however, it is counterproductive. In any case, to read the data, the manager must be very well trained to correctly interpret the information.
2. Motivational aspects. It is the motivation of employees, both at the company level and at the department level. In climate diagnostics there are always two dimensions: corporate and personal. And I always add a third: the departmental.
It is important to explain, because you can be proud of belonging to a company, but maybe not be happy at a department level. We see cases like those of Google or Amazon, in which employees are proud of their company and the brand. But maybe if we go down to the departmental level, we find workers with an excessive workload, with negative feedback towards their line manager, etc.
3. Internal communication. It is striking that many companies focus more on external communication than communicating internally. There are several things that we should consider for instance, whether our employees are informed of all the projects we carry out, whether the intranet of the organization is used effectively, how internal meetings are held, the adequacy of email management, interdepartmental communication, and a long etcetera. 80% of the time internal communication comes out as an area to improve the climate in an organization. In fact, many companies already have their own internal communication department to own this.
If I do not know what my colleagues do or what my company does, in what projects we have participated or how much is our income, it will be hard for employees to be proud of the company. Employees require information so that they can be proud, but often what happens is that they have a totally biased vision of the work of their department and struggle to understand how their work is contributing to the company.
4. Recognition and rewards. Now, here comes the retributive variables. Often the salary map has many inefficiencies because the age factor remains influential. Although I do not deny that it is a value that should be considered, ¡t does not seem fair that an individual has a much higher salary than another simply because of seniority. The perception of wage inequalities is a constant and, unfortunately, talking about salary is a taboo in Spain.
Organizations themselves have large taboos to manage this issue with transparency. I always say that there are variables that are hygienic and others that are motivating. An individual´s salary is like hygiene, because it is something we complain about when we don’t have it, but the moment we get it, it stops being motivating.
That’s where the recognition comes in. Most companies only have a fixed salary and never consider a variable salary, or only do so within the sales network. A variable amount linked to objectives could be very motivating.
5. Management style. This factor must be analyzed at a two-dimensional level. On the one hand, at the global level of the company (is the company well managed? Does it have a good brand positioning? Is there an economic growth?). And on the other, at the departmental level, thinking about the management style of the department head.
6. Customer orientation. It is important that the central services of the organization have the same customer orientation as the sales network. In many cases, external services do not feel supported by central services and it is necessary to study this relationship.
7. Image and corporate management. It is about analyzing the positioning of our brand, knowing if it is recognized, if it generates trust and if it has a good reputation. Working this and having the internal vision of how it is perceived is very important.
8. Training. Training implies possibilities for improvement. It means there are opportunities to be a better professional and not get stuck. After all, acquiring new skills is one of the clearest ways to increase your value as a professional. Without a doubt, being in an organization that allows you to develop your professional career has a major impact on the work environment.