Years ago, I began my company by doing something fairly BASIC. I talked to people — pretty much anyone I could — about work. What did they like? What did they dislike? What would they change? How had they been treated? I had no particular agenda, except to try to truly understand the intersection between people and their workplace. As I began to seek out people who had particularly difficult experiences in the workplace, I developed some theories and advice for employers about addressing problems, but I also came up with the satisfying realization that employers of good will — those wanting engaged and creative employees — merely needed to aim for five BASIC elements to provide an environment where employees would thrive.
BOUNDARIES Employees need to believe their privacy is respected and that they can have a boundary between their personal life and their home life. Employers need to respect those boundaries, and set boundaries of their own with regard to conduct that is acceptable and unacceptable.
AFFIRMATION People want to know what they are doing well. Employees want recognition and reward to align with what their employers tell them. Employees need to know that they are valued for what they contribute and who they are. Employers need to have rigorous recognition systems and opportunities to celebrate success.
SAFETY Employee safety from physical, psychological and emotional harm is essential. Workplace safety programs, strong anti-harassment and bullying measures and an environment supporting creativity and productive risk taking allows employees to feel safe enough to demonstrate creativity and stretch. Employers can support positive steps for a respectful work environment and encourage new ideas.
IDENTITY No one wants to leave their identity at home when they come to work. Letting people bring their entire self with them means valuing differences, supporting those differences through excellent diversity practices and creating a leadership capacity that accepts different ways of thinking, working and being.
CONNECTION A workplace where people are truly connected is fully of creative energy. People are encouraged to build relationships that go beyond the superficial, and to take time to learn about one another. When someone asks “How are you?” they listen for the answer. When someone is going through a difficult time, they get support and will give that same support in turn to others when they need it. Employers encourage connection by building opportunities for networking, creating teams across silos, incorporating playfulness into work, and delegating to teams.
If employers focus on these five key qualities, they will be doing the things that make them employers of choice, and build engaged, satisfied and creative employees. If you’d like to learn more about building BASIC workplace strategies, contact Sepler & Associates.<a