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Do the people in your organisation leap out of bed in the morning, excited for what the day at work will bring? People’s levels of satisfaction and fulfilment at work has a direct correlation with workplace culture. A great culture is one where people actually enjoy coming to work, while a negative culture is one where people drag themselves along. As a HR expert, guess which one I prefer?

How to embed values for a high performance workplace culture

There’s a clear link between a great culture and engaged people. One of my most valued aspects of my work with business owners, leaders, CEOs and HR professionals is helping them consciously craft a workplace where people can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning to help bring their organisation’s vision to life. I know it sounds quite lofty but it is highly achievable – I’ve seen it happen, many times! 

Here’s the secret – great culture requires great people. This happens by design and intentionality such as initiatives like selective sourcing, but there’s a step before this. Before asking who do we want or need to create a thriving organisation, perhaps ask why would they want to work for us? In marketing speak, this is WIIFM, or what’s in it for me.

Enter the employee value proposition. This is a concept that asks how you can attract and retain good people, answering WIIFM. At a base level, the EVP is about financial and nonfinancial benefits, but honestly that’s just the very beginning. An EVP should go much deeper than that and showcase the way your organisation can allow a person to live their values by aligning with the organisation’s values. It’s about how they can have their potential identified and their development or growth facilitated, and their achievements recognised. It’s what the organisation brings that boosts engagement and encourages high performance, creating, in turn, a great workplace culture. 

So what are the non dollar and cents benefits? It could be career and professional development opportunities, work environment benefits such as flexible hours and locations, connection, wellbeing and work space design – who doesn’t want to work in a cool workspace? It might be a work culture that allows people to thrive while doing work that’s meaningful to them. The ‘them’ part of that sentence is possibly the most important:

Like everything Unscripted HR, crafting a workplace that people actually want to be cannot happen via a  cookie-cutter approach. Instead, align your offering to the people that work there, which means it could/will look different in different organisations and even within different portfolios. Examples I’ve seen are organisations where people have the day off on their birthday, workspaces that are dog-friendly, organisations with extensive EAP access and detailed celebration and recognition programs. 

There are many ways to create an engaging workplace. I love sharing ideas with my clients, and one approach that always has lightbulbs going off left, right and centre is applying the love languages to the workplace. This is a particular favourite of mine from a fabulously fun workplace where we incorporated Dr Gary Chapman’s languages into daily practice. 

But first a quick spin around love languages. They were the subject of Dr Chapman’s book in 1992 – ignore the schmaltzy cover! They’re about relationships and how people best receive and express love. It’s a fabulous way to frame building connection within the workplace. Here’s the five languages:

1- Physical touch

2- Words of affirmation

3- Gifts

4- Acts of service

5- Quality time

Generally speaking, people tend to have two preferences for the relationships in their lives, including professional ones. You can take a quiz here to see your preference (s), but here’s how they could be applied at work:

1 – Physical touch – we’ll start here because this is the category that gets the most eye twitches when I raise love languages as a way to build an EVP, and rightfully so. This is the trickiest out of all of them, but can be things like high fives after a win, handshake greetings. Always, always check the level of comfort with physical touch and obtain consent. All it takes is saying ‘Shall we high five?’ and wait for an affirmative response before holding your hand up in readiness. 

2- Words of affirmation – be direct, specific and person-centred when giving verbal feedback. For example, ‘I love how you conveyed xyz in the meeting’ is much more affirming and sincere than ‘great job in that meeting’.

3- Gifts – small and personalised is the way to go here – a gift doesn’t have to be a $10k bonus. Think a card, flowers, chocolate. 

4- Acts of service – people who have acts of service as their love language will appreciate a coffee delivered to their desk, or help with a specific task. For example, I witnessed a wonderful impromptu team building session one day when people spontaneously sat in the boardroom to help a team member stuff 150 event invitations into envelopes.

5 – Quality time – this could look like team dinners or lunches, offsite education/professional development sessions or team coffees.  

These are all quick examples of steps to creating a workplace that people love being part of, designed to prompt your thinking. If you’d like to explore these in greater detail please reach out. I’d love to chat with you.

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"Culture is a critical part of our business, indeed any business, so I'm super protective of who I trust to advise and help foster our culture & people. Kath has been instrumental in helping us at Skie take a great organic culture and nurture it while adding HR rigour that is complementary and right fit for our people and organisation."

Adam Troughear, Managing Director, Skie

“I had the privilege of engaging Unscripted HR's services for a critical senior role recruitment at our company. Kath's genuine, enthusiastic, meticulous, and compassionate approach greatly aided me in clarifying our requirements and sifting through various candidates to precisely define our ideal fit. From creating the job description to onboarding the perfect candidate, I felt consistently supported. I wouldn't hesitate to collaborate with Kath again and wholeheartedly endorse her to others.”

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Nitu Saksena, Founder and Director, SaaSTrix

"Kath brings professionalism, strong expertise and a commercial mindset to people and culture management coupled with a positive energy and kindness that radiates throughout her work.

She is able to provide technical HR support while coaching owners and leaders with sound recommendations that enable them to remain in control of their operations while bringing out the best in their teams."

Lee Morgan, Partner and Director, Cure Collective
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