For all the workplace innovations over the last few years, we seem to still be struggling with a critical element of productivity and success: people.
Earlier this year, Bloomberg listed “attracting and retaining top talent” as CEOs’ top concern worldwide. Employee turnover is costing companies tens of thousands of dollars – as much as 75% of the employee’s salary, according to one calculation – and many of today’s best and brightest are choosing to be their own bosses in the gig economy rather than to seek full-time employment.
In the wake of #MeToo, organizations now have an additional hurdle: employees are poised to be skeptical (at best) of their employers’ commitments to a safe and secure workplace. Companies must work to earn employee trust.
On Tuesday, August 28th, I’ll be giving a free talk at CIC Boston at 12:30 on the importance of authenticity to your company’s brand. Bring your lunch and join us! Space is limited, so register today at Eventbrite!
That’s where being authentic can help. Much like power (and being a lady, according to Margaret Thatcher), being authentic is one of those things that if you have to say you are, you aren’t. Authenticity shines through in our communication and in our actions. It’s the words we use every day, not legal jargon, carefully contrived slogans, or themes.
Authenticity is genuine. It’s honest about strengths and weaknesses, aspirations and limits, and it recognizes that we all mess up sometimes. But that’s good news! Creating a workplace community based on authenticity provides room for errors and learning, both of which are fundamental to innovation and, more importantly, trust.
Trust is hard at the best of times. It’s even harder when the parties involved have an inherent power imbalance, like employers and employees. Few companies are solely dependent on a single employee. However, every employee is entirely dependent on their employer for everything from housing (indirectly) to healthcare (directly). In communities devoid of trust, employees don’t want to rock the boat. Rather than raise issues with their managers or seek assistance from HR, they’ll just leave.
Authenticity will help make the space for employees to raise grievances, but empowerment will enable them to do so. Many people don’t know how to have difficult conversations or how to ask for help; they are afraid to be vulnerable or to show weakness, or they’re afraid of how people might react when they say what’s on their mind. Training people on the nuances of communication will empower them to speak up and will reduce the likelihood of misunderstandings.
Being authentic – tapping into trust – takes practice, and it’s hard to do alone. Fortunately, we’re here to help.