Several years ago in corporate America, the wave of the future was to set up expansive open spaces and plant employees in giant cubicle farms, allowing them easy access to their coworkers and even upper management. It also saved money on real estate.
While that model probably facilitated conversation (and ramped up the distraction level, too), it also contributed to a pervasive “cubicle culture” that identified cubicle dwellers as nondescript worker bees, expected to buzz around and do their jobs… to keep the honey flowing. As long as the bees did their jobs, the bee farmer-bosses were happy.
The problem is, this environment does little to positively influence employee morale. For some of us, simply doing our jobs to keep the bosses happy doesn’t make for a fulfilling work life. Some of us need, and appreciate, more. For me, even though my workspace is a cubicle, I’ve found “more” at The Network Support Company, because management here does several things that fuels our morale and makes each person feel valued.
Here are the top five:
Allow employees to give input: At my first performance review at TNSC, my manager said one thing they wanted me to do was help improve the company’s processes and procedures. I thought, “wait, they want MY input on that?!?” I actually had some suggestions about our status check procedures, so they brought me in and I gave them my ideas, which they started using.
Follow through with employee requests: At a former job, I asked to be part of a special project, and was told “sure, we’ll see what we can do.” I never heard back from management; it never happened. A while ago, at TNSC, I was doing a lot of remote work, and I asked to go onto a special project inside the office. In just a short time, I was moved onto the project. They actually followed through on what they said they’d do.
Let people be themselves: I once worked at a place where people got in trouble for “over-personalizing” their cubicle. At TNSC, we actually have this ‘thing’ where a few of us collect figurines for our cubicles. Once, we pooled our money to buy a Christmas tree for our room, and it was allowed. Management doesn’t think this sort of thing will make us poor employees; instead we both believe, instead, it builds camaraderie.
Have a lot of fun: There’s always laughter in our office. Someone is either planning some kind of shenanigans or they’re engaging in some. And, instead of having to hush up when a manager walks in, more often than not, the manager is the one planning the prank! We’re all humans; we spend eight-plus hours together every day; it’s important to have fun while working hard.
See employees, and treat them, as an important part of the team: Nothing deflates morale more than not being “seen.” If no one asks for your opinion, seeks your expertise, or recognizes you for a job well done, it’s easy to lose heart. There’s no motivation to be productive and your existence at that company loses meaning.
When I first came to TNSC, I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I didn’t think this sort of workplace was possible. But, it is, and it can be at many more workplaces – if management eschews a “worker bee” culture treats people with care and respect and works to fuel morale.