This year, Sky Bet CEO Richard Flint was rated the number one CEO in the UK by the job rating site Glassdoor. Glassdoor’s reviews come from employees, making this award very meaningful and its recipient, a leader businesses around the world ought to take note of.
What is Flint doing that resonates so strongly with his staff? According to him, keeping work culture casual has opened up an invaluable dialogue between all levels of staff.
The managerial approach Flint takes to maximize employee engagement is actively creating an informal and collegiate environment.¹
“Be nice, friendly, and approachable […] and you’ll get the best out of your employees every single time…The best way to find out what’s really going on is to talk to people outside of the formal environment. In a formal meeting, people always want to tell you everything is really good.”
Operating with a less formal office environment is something more and more businesses are practicing, and it’s not just startups. From open-concept offices to employees working from home, flexible work structures seem to be becoming the new norm.
But where should the line be drawn? At what point does a casual work culture impede employee productivity?
Here are a couple of guidelines to keep in mind:
Constant communication can kill employee productivity
Office chat platforms are incredibly effective tools for keeping staff connected. Different departments and team members can instantly get updates from one another and keep projects moving forward without having to call formal meetings.
The issue is that those message notifications are not always arriving at the ideal time. In the spirit of open communication and in the wake of flexible work hours, employees at all levels are making themselves available much of the time – even outside of regular hours. When chat conversations become relentless, all-day affairs, employee focus and productivity take a hit from repeated interruptions.
Accordingly, management should be aware that employees crave a bit of structure for their chat rooms. A recent survey showed that as much as 81 percent of staff expressed an interest in having guidelines around communication apps. Often, a simple acknowledgment that it is okay to set your status as Do Not Disturb will alleviate any guilt from saying “I’m unavailable” and give your workforce uninterrupted time to focus.
Employee engagement for staff working from home
There are a lot of benefits to working from home – no time or money wasted on transit and a comfortable, quiet work environment to name a few. It’s no surprise that many employees are increasingly negotiating this flexibility into their employment agreements.
With this freedom comes more responsibility. Managers or supervisors need to regularly check in and maintain a connection with those staff working from home in order to prevent employee disengagement.
These meetings don’t have to be formal – you may decide to do check-ins through chat tools, email, or even over coffee – that’s Richard Kent’s preferred approach.
Whatever approach you decide on, these status updates should include general conversation to connect with the employee and most importantly, be done on a weekly basis. By keeping your employees informed on the going-on’s of the office, you reinforce the message that they are still a part of the team and their work matters to the company.²
Concrete boundaries are key
Don’t be afraid to relax your company culture and try out a more informal approach. Trading-in rigid guidelines for a more collaborative, horizontal business structure has proven to work wonders for many organizations.
The employee engagement success of these relaxed atmospheres is dependent on having an awareness of areas where a little can turn into too much. Knowing and managing counterproductive practices that can emerge from an open culture requires an understanding of employee work styles. The more you know about how your staff like to work, the more accurately you can shape a culture that will benefit them.
An “informal and open” work culture is not all about open-space offices. Employees want a work culture that allows them to express their true selves, inspire and be inspired by their teammates, and lets them walk away at the end of the day feeling connected to the success of the business.