Collin Goedhart, Community Manager at Eurest
The Dutch are among the most efficient employees in the world. Working hard is their second nature, but unfortunately they should do a bit better when it comes to collegiality. Our survey reveals that 30 per cent of the Dutch working population are not involved in their colleagues’ (private) life, and that one in five employees find their request for a colleague’s help falls on deaf ears. This has a huge impact on the working atmosphere experienced. The good news is that the employer can improve the mutual relationship and commitment between colleagues by means of some simple adjustments.
Thinking from the employee’s perspective
In most cases, offices and workshops have a standard interior that is exclusively intended to make the proper execution of core activities possible. This is practical, but not really inspiring and creative. In addition to a workplace, employees quite obviously need an area where they can relax and meet people. It is therefore important to invest in this and to identify the employees’ needs carefully. It should be noted that employees spend a large part of the day at their work location. Let’s be frank. Have you really done your utmost to put the working environment to its best possible use? Probably not. No need to be the new Google with a slide at the office, but make certain that in addition to a place to work there is also sufficient opportunity to relax and that areas are suitable for relaxation. It is essential to find out how to make people get up from their chair to meet each other. Think from the employee’s perspective rather than from a standard system or facility, and focus on the people you want to reach.
58% of employers does not do anything to create a good working atmosphere
The working environment has a major impact on the overall working atmosphere, but getting people closer together and improving their mutual relationship requires a lot more than making the workplace attractive. The employer plays a key role in this respect, but unfortunately the majority of Dutch companies fail to act accordingly. 58 per cent of the Dutch working population say there is no active contribution to creating a good working atmosphere. This is an alarmingly high percentage, in my opinion, but it is consistent with what I see in practice.
In some companies, the relationships among employees are good and do not require any improvement, but these companies are few and far between. As an organisation, you have to work continuously on creating the optimum climate in which employees feel they are heard and where employees enjoy going to work. To achieve this, there is no harm in bringing people together compulsorily. At a collective start of the day, week or month, for instance, colleagues can hear from each other what they are working on, what problems they are facing, but also who is celebrating his or her birthday and what other personal matters are going on. In this way, people will grow interested in their colleagues. Getting to know each other better will also improve collaboration. It all begins with providing a safe environment where people can be themselves. Employees do not need to become friends, but gaining some mutual understanding is what really matters. Plan these regular moments in addition to team outings. You will see that other relationships will spring up, once people meet outside the working environment.
An average workforce spans four generations, each with its own needs. The post-war generation is quite frugal and not an advocate of change, whereas the newly graduated, who are far more individualistic, are concentrating on their careers. This mix of four generations may easily lead to doubt and conflicts at work. I recommend that you take this into account while working on the other points mentioned above. Make sure that everybody has a say and that the various needs are responded to.