Supportive Environment in the Workplace

Gallup’s research on 5.4 million professionals in the United States shows that 52% of employees dislike their job and 18% hate it. Last year, the New HR Consulting Group’s research involving 20 thousand professionals revealed similar results for Turkey. So imagine 10 people on a bicycle: 3 pedals, 5 pretends to turn, 2 brakes. Here is the state of the business world.

In fact, when we look 20 years ago, there are serious improvements in the physical conditions of the workplaces. Advances in computer and communication technologies, smart buildings have made things easier. At least, it is possible to say that people work in more comfortable environments and have many tools to focus on their work compared to the past.

In addition, the management structures of companies have become very professional over time. For example, important steps have been taken towards institutionalization in many family companies. While personnel departments were replaced by Human Resources, concepts such as employee orientation, governance and employer brand entered the agenda of companies. During this period, many companies became acquainted with performance and wage systems.

Managers are also quite different from 20 years ago. In many companies, an MBA degree has become a prerequisite for certain positions. In addition, many companies have started to provide regular training to their employees by establishing their own academy.

I’m sure it’s possible to add many more items to this list that I haven’t counted. However, it is clear that neither improvements in physical conditions, institutionalization, nor increase in management knowledge have made employees love their jobs more. People’s job dissatisfaction is increasing day by day. In addition, it is extremely obvious that external recipes for the solution of the problems encountered do not work either.

For this, we started a very comprehensive research about four years ago to determine the effect of management approach and HR practices in Turkish companies on employee satisfaction and commitment. As the first step of this study, we conducted detailed interviews with leaders who have gained a reputation in Turkey with their knowledge, skills and experience in people management. We saw that these people also shared our concerns about current management practices. Almost all of them were quite disturbed by the excessive use of extrinsic motivation tools, especially structural management systems and performance promotion. They believed that people’s devotion and dedication could not be bought with money.

The second step of the research was to go beyond the managers and see what was going on inside. For this, we visited a dozen institutions and organizations of different sizes. These included companies as well as non-profit organizations, schools, private teaching institutions and hospitals. Our observations have shown us that Turkish companies rely heavily on rational solutions. To put it more clearly, many managers still think that they can solve human problems by establishing performance management systems, restructuring the company, renovating offices, and making employees happy with practices such as luxury cafeterias, gyms, and weekend picnics. But, as I mentioned at the beginning, this perspective unfortunately does not yield any results. Because the structure and systems have destroyed the pleasure of doing business and creating value. In short, we need more emotional workplaces, not more rational ones.

In fact, most of us know this situation, but we pretend we don’t know. Instead of looking for permanent solutions, we try to mask people management problems with fashion management practices, pretending to be doing something. But the time has come for this perspective to change. Because the problem has reached a level that can no longer be swept under the carpet and threatens the sustainability of companies.

So, how can we move from rational systems to structures that take human emotions into account? We are still working on this and it is too early to write a prescription yet. However, I can gather the impressions I have obtained from successful applications under six headings.

1. Show employees how they can contribute to the big picture.

The working conditions offered by the employer are important but not sufficient in providing work motivation. In order for employees to dedicate themselves to their work, first of all, the work done must be worthy of dedication. For this, people need to see the big picture, how they can contribute not only to the company but also to society.

2. Be fair.

Justice is the most sensitive issue of Turkish people. Our observations reveal that people care more about how fair they are treated than how much they are paid.

3. People should not work too much and too little.

In many companies, people complain about the redundancy of work. It is a fact that excessive intensity makes work unbearable. In addition, we observed that the same dissatisfaction, or even more, is experienced in cases where the workload is low.

4. Build strong teams working for a common cause.

Teamwork makes many things different. People who work together during the day, rest together, go to dinner together, have fun together outside of work. Teamwork is critical in integrating work and private life. Many people say that the greatest value in the workplace is friendship and coworkers.

5. Make sure of the competencies of the administrators.

What does a good manager mean? We have observed that many employees in Turkey work well below their performance or quit their jobs because they cannot get enough help and leadership from their manager. Promotions are very critical here. We must see that someone who sells very well may not always be a good sales manager. We need to understand that management requires special skills.

6. Respect people and bring out their unique talents.

In ideal workplaces, harmony does not mean one type of person. Here, a common perspective on creating value gains importance. Apart from this, differences and respect for differences are one of the most important characteristics that the ideal workplace should have. The different perspectives put forward by people from different cultures increase the creative potential of the company. People have the opportunity to learn from each other.

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