Nurturing Teams

Nurturing Exceptional Teams: Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Employee Engagement

Nurturing Exceptional Teams: Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Employee Engagement

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Nurturing Teams

Building and retaining a high-performing team is a perpetual challenge for business leaders. Mistakes in managing talent can lead to the departure of valuable employees, especially those with ample alternatives. It’s crucial to understand that a disengaged workforce often results in the loss of top-notch talent. While this may seem like common sense, the reality is that many organizations overlook this fundamental aspect.

Abel Personnel recognizes the unique needs of our business clients, and we understand the intricacies of cultivating a productive team. As a company grows, maintaining standards becomes more complex. Government agencies and subcontractors, as well as medical administration and the financial sector are often required to maintain strict policies due to regulations and security. Abel Personnel will always respect and enforce the policies that our clients have in place. Our temporary and managed workforce service includes all human resource efforts– including enforcing policies, policy violation investigations, disciplinary actions, and terminations. This article is directed to leaders of businesses and organizations who are rethinking their company culture and business standards from 20+ years ago, which are rooted in tradition instead of productivity or quality outcomes.

Rather than implementing sweeping regulations, Abel Personnel advocates for a personalized, one-on-one approach to address performance issues. This method fosters a proactive and morale-boosting environment, contrasting with the passive and demoralizing effects of broad policies. The goal is to empower managers to handle challenges directly and effectively, reinforcing a positive company culture.

Let’s examine some common workplace policies that can inadvertently hinder engagement and productivity:

  • Six-Month Stay: Many companies impose restrictions on transfers or promotions until an employee has held a position for six months. Abel Personnel understands that individual progress varies, and managers should have the freedom to determine when an employee is ready for advancement or a change in role.
  • Rigid Attendance and Leave Policies: If your company requires 100% attendance– regardless of the reason– for the first 30 days, you can expect to be continually hiring and training new employees. For salaried positions, Abel Personnel recognizes that a results-driven approach is more effective than focusing on specific hours. Penalizing salaried employees for minor lateness, while requiring them to be available to work evenings and weekends can erode trust. Similarly, overly strict documentation requirements for bereavement and medical leave can leave a negative impression on deserving employees.
  • Limiting Individuality: While maintaining professionalism and safety is essential, Abel Personnel encourages a balanced approach to rules about personal items at desks and dress codes. Does a visible tattoo, vibrant hair color, or a hat affect the work performance of someone making phone calls from a cubicle? Will your company’s image actually suffer because of the employee who showed up for work tie-free or removed their snagged nylons? “Traditional” business dress is becoming much rarer post-pandemic, especially since more higher-level employees are working from home or in a hybrid arrangement. Restricting apparel, hairstyles or personal items that have religious or cultural significance or requiring documentation of the significance can be considered biased. Emphasizing individual responsibility over restrictive policies fosters an accepting and positive work environment.
  • Standardized Performance Evaluations: Abel Personnel advises against forcing employees into predetermined performance rankings. This approach can inaccurately evaluate performance, encouraging employees to “work the system” to achieve an arbitrary goal instead of serving the actual needs of the company/client. For example, a call center representative who has a high quota for the number of calls they must answer could hang up on customers whose issues take more than five minutes to resolve. While their numbers would imply that they are resolving more issues than their team members, they are actually causing more issues for their team members to resolve, costing the company money, and frustrating the customers. Good managers should know whether or not their employee is an asset to the company, and they should take the time and effort to document and discuss each team member’s strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Mobile Phone Bans: Unless there is a security or regulatory issue, Abel Personnel suggests a nuanced approach to mobile phone usage. Trustworthy hiring practices and effective management training can address the issue of excessive phone use without resorting to blanket bans.
  • Travel Reimbursement Policies and Frequent Flier Miles: It is a common practice for companies whose business involves frequent travel to either grant a modest, up-front per diem for meals and approved incidentals, or have the employee cover all of the expenses on their own, and be reimbursed for the approved expenses after the fact. Depending on an employee’s personal financial situation, a reimbursement policy may not be a possibility for the employee, which can be demoralizing, and even reflect poorly on the company if the employee runs into payment issues during the trip. Another questionable practice is how flight tickets are purchased. Companies have a tendency to purchase flight tickets on behalf of their employees so that the frequent flier miles are retained by the company instead of the individual. When an employee is required to use their personal means and document every expense except the one that offers rewards, it can diminish the individual’s sense of appreciation and breed resentment. Abel Personnel recommends the win-win solution to issue frequent travelers a company credit card with an appropriate limit so that all approved, business-related expenses are handled consistently.
  • Stringent Email Policies: Some organizations are implementing policies and installing software that require employees to select pre-approved email topics and messaging before hitting “send.” While in some cases, providing example scripts or suggesting verbiage for frequently used messaging can save time and effort for the employee, restricting email topics and electronically monitoring email usage is usually excessive and frankly, a waste of resources. Trusting employees to use email responsibly is crucial. Overly restrictive email policies can create unnecessary obstacles and discomfort for the majority of employees who use email responsibly.

Think about your company culture. Are you empowering your team to do their best work? How much of your resources are spent on enforcing unnecessary policies? How do your most challenged policies benefit your organization? By reconsidering demoralizing and unnecessary policies, you can foster a more enjoyable and productive workplace, ultimately contributing to the success and longevity of your teams.

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