Many employers wouldn't consider asking employees for decorating tips when moving to a larger workplace. After all, an office is an office. But when WorkRamp, an onboarding and employee training software company, moved, they enlisted the help of every employee instead of having management call all the shots.
It was the ultimate employee experience of empowerment.
"We involved every employee in the conversation and search process," said WorkRamp's founder and CEO, Ted Blosser. "By the time we found a new location in a new city, it felt as though everyone had played a part in making sure it would be best for the entire team. When we moved in, the office immediately felt like a new community, not just a new location."
Decisions like this are great opportunities to let employees contribute more to the company and shape an employee experience they actually want. Here are four other situations that demand employee input:
1. When you need employee buy-in.
Big company changes are scary for employees, especially if they're left in the dark. When leadership makes all the calls, they may face resistance from the rest of the staff.
As the regional manager at Insperity, a human resources solutions company, Sarah Grimstead worked with clients who faced budget cuts. To get employees to support their efforts, she encouraged the staff to offer ideas, which ultimately led to solutions that everyone agreed on.
"Because we had wide participation in solving the problem, we also had significant buy in for the solution," Grimstead said. "In this case, it was much better to ask for staff assistance in coming up with the solution, rather than dictating what they needed to do."
Involve employees in planning and strategizing so they have a stake in organizational changes, making them more likely to follow through and stay committed.
2. When productivity suffers.
Denver Peak Academy, a local government employee coaching program, originally had an 85-day hiring process. Obviously, when a role was left open, it hurt the team's overall productivity.
Brian Elms, the director, saw a great deal of unity when his team got together to determine ways to improve the hiring process.
"Every employee on the HR team got involved and they successfully reduced our post to fill process to around 50 days," he said. "They continue to push their teams to find additional ways to improve the process by communicating with the hiring managers about their goal of 45 days. One of the staff members uses a 'nudge' technique weekly to remind the hiring manager how long the process is taking."
To get the team back to peak productivity, encourage employees to hold each other accountable for finding solutions and taking action. They can often motivate each other to get things back on track.
3. When you need to inspire innovation.
Rita Santelli, the CEO of business consulting firm SAVVY, faced a challenge when she she led marketing and communications for a nonprofit. The company was the largest publisher of books in their area, but sales declined three years in a row. Instead of just addressing the issue on her own, Santelli asked her team to help.
"Innovation is an area where I've found employee leadership is critical to success," she said. "My team examined the data, discussed trends, brainstormed ideas and, then, made the decisions collectively. By asking the team to lead the decision-making process, it inspired them to take ownership of the results."
Involve employees to fuel innovation and make them feel like heroes. When they see the impact they have on the big picture, they become more results-driven, which ultimately improves the employee experience.
4. When employee satisfaction is involved.
Who better to understand employee satisfaction than employees themselves? Leaders who try to tell employees what they need to be happy are being presumptuous.
On the other hand, when employees share what it takes to improve satisfaction, the workplace is better for them.
The co-founder of Robo, a 3D printer company, Braydon Moreno, said he lives by a simple rule: "Workplace decisions that should be left to employees are those revolving around employee satisfaction in the workplace."
"You want to make sure that your team is happy," he said. "And a lot of the time, they have the best ideas for creating a happy space to come and work, day in and day out."
Let employees step out of their comfort zones and volunteer for new projects they're passionate about. When they pursue something meaningful to them, they're shaping an employee experience that makes them happy.