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Stronger together: How can you build a culture of belonging at work?

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Image Source: nd3000 via Canva.com

The rise of remote and hybrid work setups in the wake of the pandemic has led to a lack of social cohesion between people in the workplace. Moreover, COVID-19 has increased turnover rates globally, especially in the U.S. labor market, which was motivated by several factors; among them, the phenomenon known as the Great Resignation

While some may think things have changed, yet the Great Resignation remains as highlighted by ADP economist Nela Richardson said, “the great resignation is becoming the great stay.” Around 46% of professionals are thinking about leaving their jobs, compared to 41% in 2021, as surveyed by Microsoft and LinkedIn. Most of their reasons reflect the quality of their connection to their workplace, which defines the culture of belonging in an organization.

What is belonging?

According to the Harvard Business Review, for an employee to feel a sense of belonging, they must be: 
  • Seen for their unique contributions;
  • Connected to their coworkers;
  • Supported in their daily work and career development; and
  • Proud of their organization’s values and purpose.

All of the aforementioned factors are highlighted in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. As shown below (see Figure 1), psychosociological needs include belongingness, love, and esteem, while self-fulfillment includes self-actualization. Those represent three levels of the model, which build a culture of belonging. 

Figure 1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs | Source: SimplyPsychology

The figure also shows that belongingness comes before esteem needs and self-actualization, which means that unless an employee feels a sense of belonging in the workplace, they will not be able to perform beyond their daily tasks and reach their full potential. Employees need to be recognized, seen, and supported in the workplace to go the extra mile and send performance to a whole new level.

Read more: How can a motivational culture impact the performance of public servants?

Why is a culture of belonging important?

According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, among the top three reasons for U.S. workers quitting their jobs was “feeling disrespected in their workplace.” A study published by The Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that toxic corporate culture was the leading predictor of attrition when studying the effects of more than 170 topics on employee attrition for Culture 500 companies in 2021. 

The study found the main factors that contribute to a toxic work culture involve failure to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); workers feeling disrespected; and unethical behavior. All three go against the very essence of building a culture of belonging in the workplace, leading to companies losing their talent and increasing their recruitment costs to fill the gaps.

Building a culture of belonging has several advantages for employers. For instance, increasing employee productivity can have a cascading positive impact, inspiring employees to go the extra mile. Furthermore, a culture of belonging boosts teamwork for better organizational performance. A culture of belonging also makes employees loyal to their workplace, reducing turnover. 

How to build a culture of belonging

Below are some recommended building blocks for creating a culture of belonging in the workplace.
  • Communication: Two-way communication between managers and their teams is vital. This should be done formally and informally. Managers should not only depend on periodic, scheduled communication to connect with their team members, such as performance appraisals, project meetings, and update meetings. On the contrary, connecting with team members spontaneously can build a stronger bond, creating a real sense of belonging.
  • Strategy and values alignment: Managers should ensure that their team members understand the corporate strategy and the company’s values. Employees should understand the purpose behind their jobs and how they are contributing to the overall success of the company. This would emphasize their importance in the workplace.
  • Democratized decision-making: Involving team members in decision-making makes their voices heard, brings new ideas, boosts creativity, and makes everyone learn new things from one another.
  • Recognition and praise: Recognizing the achievements and contributions of employees should be done both privately and publicly. Each way has its own implications on the individual’s self-esteem and sense of accomplishment.

Read more: Beyond remote work: insights and strategies for enhancing employee productivity and performance

In conclusion, building a culture of belonging is a necessity. It is not easy for companies to replace talented employees, which is why it is crucial to foster loyalty to the company, and a culture of belonging makes this possible. Managers and leaders should ensure that their employees are not just trying to fit in and adapt to the company’s culture, but they actually have a positive connection to and trust in their company as this is what belonging is all about. A culture of belonging makes employees more resilient and able to come together during difficult times.

Business process reengineering: the path to maximum efficiency

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Source: Canva

 

To be competitive in today’s fast-changing business environment, companies must continually increase efficiency. Reengineering workflows and business processes may help accomplish this. Business process reengineering is a company management technique that analyzes and redesigns workflows and processes. It completely restructures company operations to increase quality and improve costs, service, and speed.

In the early 1990s, BPR was introduced to identify, evaluate, and restructure an organization’s essential business processes to eliminate redundancies, reduce mistakes, and boost efficiency. It rigorously analyzes, rethinks, and redesigns mission-delivery processes. Business process improvement (BPI) differs from BPR. The latter rejects rules and revamps processes from a high-level viewpoint, unlike BPI, which only makes incremental adjustments.

Identifying the triggers for BPR

Figure 1. BPR Triggers | Source: Adapted from LinkedIn

Businesses may realize the need for BPR when they observe certain signs that indicate inefficiencies or bottlenecks in their current processes. Here are some key indicators that suggest a business might benefit from BPR:

  1. Non-value-added activities: These are tasks or processes that do not add value to the business or its customers.
  2. Too many hand-offs: Processes involving too many hand-offs or transfers between different departments or individuals can lead to delays and miscommunication.
  3. Process bloat: Overly complex or bloated processes can slow down operations and reduce efficiency. 
  4. Difficulty in scaling up: This occurs when a business struggles to scale its operations due to inefficient or poorly integrated systems.
  5. Repetitive tasks: These are characterized by employees finding themselves doing the same thing repeatedly, especially tasks that could be automated.

Read More: The power of change management in strategy execution

BPR best practices

  • Process mapping: This involves defining the scope, purpose, and goal of the project, and then mapping out the sequence of tasks or steps that are performed to achieve a certain goal or outcome. This can help identify gaps, redundancies, bottlenecks, delays, errors, and rework in the workflow.
  • Analyzing current processes: This involves reviewing the current workflows and processes to identify inefficiencies and areas for improvement. This includes looking for common inefficiencies such as overproduction, waiting, transportation, overprocessing, and motion.
  • Identifying redundancies: Redundancies are any processes, procedures, roles, reports, meetings, or other business activities that are duplicative, outdated, or otherwise unnecessary. Once these are identified, they can subsequently be eliminated.
  • Using workflow analysis tools: Workflow analysis tools can help visualize, analyze, and improve business processes. These tools can identify inefficiencies, streamline operations, and automate manual tasks.
  • Implementing automation: Workflow automation tools can help streamline routine business processes for optimal efficiency. These tools can reduce busy work and optimize processes, allowing employees to focus on more important tasks.

Benefits of BPR

  • Improved collaboration: Optimized processes, particularly those that are automated, provide a centralized system for tracking tasks and sharing data. This shared access to information can improve collaboration among departments, reducing the risk of miscommunication and errors. 
  • Enhanced productivity: Process optimization can lead to significant increases in operational efficiency. By streamlining processes and automating routine tasks, employees can work more effectively and deliver quality work in a timely manner.
  • Empowerment: Reengineered processes often involve redistributing power and authority among functions and levels, empowering individuals to think, interact, use judgment, and make decisions. This fosters innovation and creativity among employees, leading to better solutions to problems and faster problem-solving times.
  • Innovation and creativity: Integrating innovation and creativity into the reengineering process can lead to more effective and sustainable process improvements.

Read More: How businesses make use of disruptive innovation to adapt to change

Case study: Domino’s

In 2008, Domino’s stock price hit an all-time low, rendering it nearly bankrupt. The transformation began with a complete overhaul of its ingredients, recipes, and menu, but the real game-changer was its focus on digital transformation. 

Domino’s focused on three key areas for its digital transformation: customer experience, data analytics, and technology infrastructure. The company implemented a unified digital platform that integrated online ordering, customer feedback, and delivery tracking.

One of the most significant steps in this transformation was the introduction of the “Pizza Tracker” technology in 2008, which kept customers updated on the progress of their orders. This innovation, along with others, changed the brand perception of Domino’s from a pizza delivery company to a technology-driven company.

By 2018, Domino’s overtook Pizza Hut as the largest pizza delivery company globally, with a market share of 18.6%. The company’s revenue grew from $1.4 billion to $3.5 billion, and its net income increased significantly. The company’s stock price also saw a dramatic increase, from around $3.00 a share in 2008 to $211 in 2018-2019.

In conclusion

BPR is a critical component of any organization’s quest for maximum efficiency. By identifying and eliminating inefficiencies, streamlining processes, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement, organizations can successfully reengineer workflows, enabling them to stay competitive in today’s rapidly changing business landscape.

For more insightful articles on organizational performance and other similar concepts, click here.

Leveraging effective performance management systems for real estate success

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The real estate industry pulsates with the rhythm of performance. From agents closing deals to property managers ensuring optimal occupancy, individual and team success directly translates to organizational growth. In this high-stakes environment, a well-implemented Performance Management System (PMS) emerges as the conductor, harmonizing individual efforts and driving the symphony toward desired outcomes.

A PMS is more than just a goal-setting exercise. It is a comprehensive framework designed to establish clear, measurable objectives, track progress against those objectives, and evaluate individual and team performance throughout the journey. It fosters a culture of accountability and continuous improvement, ensuring that all efforts are aligned with the organization’s broader strategic vision.

The symphony of benefits in real estate

The implementation of a PMS in real estate unlocks a multitude of benefits, allowing organizations to:

  • Empower individuals and teams: By setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) and providing regular feedback, the PMS empowers individuals and teams to strive for excellence.
  • Make data-driven decisions: The PMS serves as a reliable source of objective data on performance, allowing for informed decisions regarding resource allocation, marketing strategies, and talent development.
  • Drive client satisfaction: A PMS aligns individual performance with customer satisfaction metrics to deliver exceptional service and exceed client expectations.
  • Cultivate strong talent management: Identifying strengths and weaknesses through performance evaluations allows for targeted training and development opportunities, leading to a more skilled and motivated workforce.

Adapting PMS for diverse roles

While the core principles of a PMS remain consistent regardless of the industry, it is crucial to tailor the system to address the specific needs of diverse real estate roles.

  • Real Estate Agents:Some important indicators are # Listings closed, $ Average selling price, # Customer satisfaction score.
  • Property Managers:Crucial areas for evaluation include % Occupancy rate, $ Maintenance costs, % Tenant retention rate, and % Adherence to regulations.
  • Brokers: For overall portfolio performance, organizations can use % Return on Investment (ROI) and % Growth Rate. For team productivity, they can consider # Time spent per task completion, # Average time to close a transaction, % Tasks completed without errors, and % Lead conversion rate.
  • Appraisers:The key metrics to consider are % Accuracy of valuations, % Timely report delivery, % Client satisfaction.
  • Mortgage Loan Officers: Organizations can look into # Loan origination volume, % Loan approval rate, and % Customer satisfaction.
  • Leasing Agents:A few important evaluation points to consider are # Leases signed, % Lease renewal rate, and % Tenant satisfaction.
  • Facility Managers:The major points for measurement are # Maintenance response time, % Budget adherence, and % Tenant comfort level.

Building a sustainable performance culture

Implementing a successful PMS requires commitment and careful planning. Here are some key steps:

  1. Define roles and responsibilities: Clearly outline expectations for each position within the organization, such as property managers focusing on tenant relations and leasing agents prioritizing property marketing strategies.
  2. Develop clear and measurable goals: Ensure that goals are SMART and aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives, such as setting targets for property occupancy rates and rental income growth over specific time frames.
  3. Choose the right tools and technology: Consider implementing dedicated software solutions to streamline the process, such as CRM systems tailored for real estate to manage client interactions and property databases efficiently.
  4. Foster open communication: Provide regular feedback and encourage open communication to facilitate continuous improvement, such as conducting monthly team meetings to discuss performance metrics and address any challenges or successes in property management.
  5. Adapt and evolve: Regularly review and update the PMS to ensure its relevance to evolving business needs and industry trends, such as incorporating new regulations or market demands into performance evaluation criteria and adjusting goal-setting accordingly. Moreover, companies can utilize real-time data analytics tools to monitor market trends and adjust strategies accordingly.

In conclusion, a PMS is not just a tool; it is the foundation for a thriving performance culture in the real estate industry. By aligning performance with desired outcomes, real estate companies can unlock their full potential and ensure long-term success in this dynamic and competitive landscape.

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About the Author

This article is written by Rami Al Tawil, the General Manager of Organizational Excellence at Al Saedan Real Estate Company. He holds a master’s degree in industrial engineering from Jordan University of Science and Technology. With 19 years of expertise spanning strategy planning, performance management, business improvement, and more, he excels in aligning employees with strategic visions for consistent performance improvement.

Strategies for effective workforce management

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Nowadays, effective workforce management is essential to success in the corporate world. In a time of swift technological progress, changing demographic patterns, and changing workplace dynamics, companies prioritizing workforce management stand to benefit greatly. To achieve sustainable development and competitiveness, the strategies and best practices for workforce management are examined in this article, focusing on their significance. There are two main categories for the workforce management, and they are:

Strategic workforce planning: Workforce management that considers the organization’s long-term goals and objectives is known as strategic workforce management. It entails coordinating the workforce with the strategy of the organization, projecting future labor requirements, and creating talent pipelines to satisfy those requirements.

Forecasting the demand requires understanding the full strategy picture so that organizational goals are properly measured. At the same time, to ensure that strategic workforce planning is effective, it needs to be measured against key performance indicators.

Operational workforce planning: Operational workforce planning enables the organization to achieve short-term outcomes. This level of workforce planning involves keeping track of day-to-day operations, assigning people, and addressing ad-hoc changes.

Workforce planning process

Workforce planning can be divided into five main areas:
  • Analyze the current workforce: This involves assessing the workforce’s current level of skill and capabilities as well as any gaps and the skills required to accomplish the organization’s long-term objectives.
  • Identify target needs: This includes a strategic analysis of the company, market forecasts, and industry trends. The organization can determine the precise skills and competencies needed to satisfy those objectives once it has a clear picture of what it will need in the future.
  • Develop strategies: Developing strategies involves filling up the gaps and preparing the workforce for the organization’s future demands. This entails creating targeted initiatives and programs. Programs for training and development, recruiting drives, and succession planning are a few examples of this.
  • Implement strategies: This entails implementing the identified techniques and assessing their effectiveness. To ensure the tactics are producing the intended effects, it is critical to regularly review and monitor them. The tactics can be modified as needed to increase their effectiveness. Workforce planning is an ongoing process that needs to be included into the organization’s larger operational management and business planning initiatives. Organizations can ensure they have the appropriate people with the right skills in the right location at the right time to fulfill their goals by proactively approaching workforce planning.
  • Monitor and evaluate: Workforce planning must include both monitoring and evaluation. Organizations may determine what is effective and what needs to be improved by tracking and assessing the workforce strategy’s effectiveness, efficiency, and appropriateness.

In a case study featured on AIHR addressing the strategic workforce challenges faced by ProRail Traffic Control, the main concern revolved around the imminent transformation of jobs for 700 Train Traffic Controllers and 150 operational planners due to increased automation. In response, the organization developed a 10-year vision named “Digital Vision” to digitize the traffic control process and accommodate projected capacity growth. To assess the workforce impact of these changes, the management initiated Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP).

Guided by principles such as business continuity, re-schooling, turnover, cost-effective growth, and technology integration, the SWP approach involved a data-driven analysis by a core team comprising HR and external consultancy experts. The quantitative model generated insights, including the anticipated retirement-driven employee departures, a natural turnover exceeding the reduction in required operators, and the feasibility of adjusting workstation numbers over time to align with technological advancements, ensuring operational continuity and job security. The study emphasizes the importance of aligning workforce planning with technological advancements to achieve long-term sustainability and adaptability.

Conclusion

Growth is ultimately fueled by a workforce that is aligned and can carry out the organization’s strategic goals. Organizations may create a culture of innovation and continuous development as well as react to the changing business environment by taking a proactive approach to workforce planning.

In essence, ensuring growth in an organization requires a workforce that is aligned with the appropriate skills and competencies. For organizations to achieve their objectives, strategic workforce planning ensures that the appropriate people with the right skills are in the right place at the right time. This encompassing method of managing the workforce fosters long-term success and flexibility in the dynamic organization setting.

An aligned workforce with the skills and capacities to carry out the organization’s strategic goals and objectives is a workforce that drives business growth.

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Nawaf Al Omari boasts over a decade of experience in optimizing teams and driving project management success. He excels at forecasting staffing needs, resource management, and fostering collaborations, with a 40% increase in stakeholder satisfaction. Prioritizing data-driven decision-making, he is adept at mitigating risks, tracking KPIs, and achieving cost reductions. Nawaf is strongly committed to delivering results and operational excellence.

How can a motivational culture impact the performance of public servants?

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Outstanding performance that can sustain positive results in the future is one of the key elements of organizational excellence.

Considering organizational excellence as what can drive organizations to a brighter future in terms of more profits, cost reduction, more customer satisfaction, referrals, better net promoter score; it is important to highlight the three pillars of the excellence model from the EFQM model 2020; direction, execution and results.

Having this in mind, the model stresses the need for methodological approach where we develop practices and processes, integrate them into the organization towards agile, effective, and efficient execution, in order to achieve better performance results internally (strategic and operational) and externally as perceptions from stakeholders (customers, citizens, and beneficiaries), which can sustain positively in the future.

The third criterion of the model, namely “Engaging Stakeholders,” focuses on ensuring continuous and positive engagement with all key stakeholders of the organization including employees/public servants. Employees are therefore seen as a key stakeholder, and having them as an integral part of any organizational excellence model emphasizes the need to shift the public sector’s focus from the traditional way of operations, in which public servants are only there to process the requests of citizens, try on their own to be energetic and efficient, awaiting their retirement, to a more competitive way, in which they compete with the private sector’s staff in terms of service excellence.

For this shift to happen, the key players are the employees, who will need to feel the need, accept and change towards a different mindset where they consider themselves not just as public servants but as drivers towards the public sector’s and country’s prosperity.

Leaders need to approve such a shift, align it with organizational purpose, direct it internally and externally, support it with the right values, allow change management to tackle all what needs to change step by step, and catalyze it with motivational culture.

A motivational culture can help public servants create ideas to improve, and innovate in the direction of efficiency and agility, so that they can get recognized internally and externally. Motivate them to be proud ambassadors for the country’s welfare. Motivate them so that they can understand and fully believe that they are the primary drivers of success.

Although motivation is one word, thousands of research papers have talked about it! So, let’s get back to the foundation of human beings without further complications: aren’t we survivors? Haven’t we gone through so many crises and changes in this world and made it safely in 2022? Accordingly, the desire to see what tomorrow holds for us and to consider what we may do now to get a greater return tomorrow is what drives us to get out of bed each morning in search of a better tomorrow.

Finally, I would like to refer to the very significant connection between motivation and sustainability. Motivation is one of the components of sustainability, which ensures that resources are preserved for current generations as well as all future ones.

Will sustainability direction, focus and efforts succeed? It will all depend on whether we, people, feel ourselves part of it and we are motivated enough to invest in it. How to feel this way and how to be motivated? Simply by ensuring our sense of belonging and our ability to effect the necessary change, both for our benefit and the benefit of all future generations.

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This article was originally published in the PERFORMANCE MAGAZINE Issue No. 24, 2023 – Public Sector Edition for the Ask Our Experts section. 

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