As Chief Work Officer at Xponent21, I’m tasked with ensuring that our team has the tools, training, and systems in place to allow them to focus on and perform their best work. By creating a work environment that prioritizes the employee experience and fosters optimal performance, we believe that everyone wins – our clients, their customers, our employees, our company, and ultimately, our community.
That sounds idyllic, but how does it work in practice?
As a Leader in Your Organization, How Can You Create a Work Environment that Supports Long-Term Job Satisfaction?
In 2020, tectonic shifts in the foundations underlying our workplaces, expectations, and priorities coincided with the onset of “The Great Resignation”. In an effort to retain and attract top talent, the question of how to create a work environment that supports long-term job satisfaction has become a core focus of business leaders around the world.
Within our own organization, my role as Chief Work Officer was established, just as other companies appointed leaders to similar positions – Chief People Officer, Chief Employee Experience Officer, Chief Experience Officer, etc. No matter which title applies, the foundational skill set that drives success in these employee-centric roles encompasses the following disciplines:
- Experience Design
- Human Resources
- Organizational Development
- Business Systems & Process Design
- Project Management Methodology
Begin by Listening
If you’re a leader responsible for the employee experience, I suggest that you begin by listening. Seeking feedback from employees will allow you to achieve buy-in from your team, take stock of the current sentiment, uncover areas for improvement, and gain a sense of what your team’s priorities are when it comes to career satisfaction.
Continue by Empowering Employees
Some other recent initiatives we’ve undertaken on the employee work experience front:
- Created committees – Through the creation of employee-led committees, our team is not only involved, but leading the effort to shape the future of our company.
- Expanded our internal web app – Version 1.0 featuring standard operating procedures has been expanded to include a team member skills directory, work request forms, a glossary of key services and terminology, and other tools to support our teams and employees.
- Prioritized opportunities for face-to-face team building – We’ve assessed our team calendar with an eye toward fostering in-person connection with 1:1s, water coolers, community events, and company-sponsored social events. Getting together in person not only improves morale, but also augments our ability to successfully collaborate with our colleagues.
- Conducted internal studies – We audited the workload of one of our most high-volume teams (development) to improve resource allocation and work management. We also analyzed task completion metrics to track productivity gains since the implementation of the four-day work week.
- Held a team training focused on projects – Our development projects are some of our most intensive, taking place over several months and involving collaboration across all of our internal teams. To ensure total alignment, we developed, held, and recorded a team-wide training that covered everything from the “big picture” down to the specific roles and responsibilities of individuals.
- Sought more feedback – Because leaders can never get enough input from their team, we conducted several internal surveys focused on workplace topics from benefits to employee engagement.
The Outcomes You Can Expect from Your Efforts
If you’re successful in your efforts to create a workplace that fosters career satisfaction, of course your team will feel satisfied with their roles and what they’re able to learn and accomplish while at your company. What may come as a surprise is this additional benefit: your clients will be excited about the relationship they have with your organization and the results your team can deliver. This, in turn, drives deeper engagement and, since you’ve built a framework that supports employees in consistently delivering their best work, referrals.
As an Employee or Contractor, How Can You Create a Satisfying Career Path for Yourself?
If you’re an employee seeking improvements in your level of satisfaction with your job, the first thing to solidify is what represents an ideal state for you.
Questions to ponder:
What are your top work values, and can you prioritize them?
This is a personal question, and the answer will be specific to you. You may consider a number of factors like: work that will engage and challenge you, work you’re good at, work that helps others, supportive workplace conditions, fair pay, job security, and benefits.
Consider the type of team culture that you seek to be a part of and use this to screen prospective employers for fit assessment.
Does the leadership team inspire you? Does the organization respect diverse ideas and opinions? Does the team exchange honest and constructive feedback? Do the current employees seem satisfied with their jobs at the company?
What does your optimal work life balance look like?
Do you like the structure of a 5-day week, or would you prefer to tackle your workload in fewer, focused hours? How important is flexibility, like the ability to leave work early to pick up your kid from school or to go home at lunch to walk your dog?
What kind of work environment fits best with your career and lifestyle?
Think about whether you prefer to work in an office environment or to work remotely from anywhere. Are you excited about the prospect of a job that requires frequent travel, or do you prefer the comfort of home? If you live in a particular city, how far would you be willing to commute for a great job opportunity? Do you prefer to work collaboratively most of the time, or do you do your best work solo?
Where do you plan to be five or ten years from now on your career path?
Is this current opportunity supportive of your goals? Will it assist you in getting to the next step in your trajectory?
Once you have formulated a solid idea of what your happy state looks like, it’s time to network and explore job opportunities. If you’re embarking on the next phase of your career journey, your timing couldn’t be more impeccable, as employers across industries are in search of talent. The workplace is your oyster!
Illustration by Storyset.