August 13, 2021

Adapting to Changing Workplace Attitudes with High-Involvement Culture

Communications Director

It's no secret that workplace attitudes are changing. Many workers in all sectors and at all stages of their careers are learning that many parts of their jobs can be done from home. Others are beginning to feel there’s a disconnect between the value of their work and the amount of respect or compensation they receive. All of this points to somewhat of a cultural shift, not only in the nature of work itself, but in the way workers are treated.

The first thing to acknowledge is that this is not an issue with a quick fix. You can’t put a bandage on it, wait for it to scab over, and then be good as new. For many companies, this will require a real change in their workplace attitudes or in how they treat employees. And any real change requires, to some extent, finding out what your employees want and meeting them where they are. This is all the more important for employee-owners. If employee-owners literally own part of their workplace, then they ought be afforded the responsibility and dignity that come with that.

Aside from compensation and office policies (which are, of course, of the highest importance), what is often missing from the perspective of the worker is a sense of dignity and respect. It’s only natural that when you speak, you want to be heard. The same principle applies across the board. Employees want to know that their work matters and that their contributions are felt and appreciated. Far from being an example of this generation’s workers requiring extra hand-holding, this is a strength and a strategic benefit waiting to be tapped. Nothing can replicate the ideas produced by dedicated and engaged employees, steeped in the intricacies of their roles and jobs. A competitor may be able to copy one big idea you come out with, but it can’t copy dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of employees who are ready to and trusted and empowered to make many improvements, small and large, to how they do their work. 

Realizing this is only the first step. Now you know that you need to better engage your employees but are stuck with how to get started. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources both inside of the employee ownership community and in the business community at large that can get you started.

Our friends at the Great Game of Business, itself an employee-owned company, are well versed in how to get everyday employee-owners involved and thinking more like business owners. And, like us, they are hosting an event this September that is sure to give you the tools you need to create a company where employees truly own their jobs. Additionally, they'll be doing a pre-Forum Workshop at our upcoming Fall ESOP Forum on just this sort of high-involvement culture.
You’re also encouraged to browse our Service Provider Directory, which allows you to find practitioners across the country that specialize in relevant fields: use the categories “Employee communications,” “Employee education and financial advice,” and “Employee participation.” Filtering by these terms will show you the experts who you can work with to get your company ahead of the curve on engagement.

And for those who prefer to learn on their own, we have an acclaimed publication by  NCEO founder Corey Rosen, Beyond Engagement: How to Make Business an Idea Factory. This book gives detailed examples and case studies of companies who have succeeded by making their employees an integral part of the idea generation process.