Is your highest paid team member slacking off?

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Ram Srinivasan Head of Consulting, JLL Canada
Talk to Ram Srinivasan
Ram is a strategy consultant by day and astronomy enthusiast by night (literally!). He is also a trained classical violinist and an avid mid-distance runner

What if I told you one of your team members is only working at the very most at 60% capacity for only two hours a day? To make matters worse, that member does not adapt to changing business needs, does not align with your culture, potentially comes in the way of collaboration and yet, is the highest paid.

Maybe you think, there is no way someone like that is on your team. Look closely, you have one of these high paid slackers on your team hidden in plain sight – it’s your workplace!

Imagine your workplace is your colleague

In a recent article we explored how the workplace is becoming more human. Should we, therefore, think of the workplace as a member of our team? Should our workplaces be held to high performance criteria, as our employees are? Absolutely.

In response to the agile nature of today’s business and the needs of your team, your workplace needs to be equally flexible and organic. It should help you shape culture, promote collaboration, inspire ideas, respond to trends, improve performance, build retention and grow the bottom line. If that sounds like a lot, there’s more, your workplace should talk to you and inform your decisions.

Is your workplace working for you?

With industry shifting changes and disruption, becoming the new normal, you cannot risk your office working against your business goals. And yet, studies indicate that most workplaces today are underutilized by as much as 40 to 50%. This is  because two-thirds of work now takes place outside corporate offices. People are increasingly mobile – with technology they can work from virtually anywhere. We believe, therefore, that workplaces are represented in three places:

  • the virtual place (remote working),
  • the third place (co-working and other shared spaces), and
  • the experience place (the next generation office)

In this context, if your workplace does not provide the right experience to inspire and engage your people, they will lose interest, lack motivation or worse join a competitor.  As your highest paid colleague, your workplace should help you attract and retain people, not repel them. It is time we put our work environments under the scanner and find out if they are really working for us.

How do you assess where your workplace is underperforming?

A starting point: Workplace Performance Review

When one of our colleagues underperforms, we objectively assess their output against pre-defined job requirements. This helps us create a plan for performance improvement. We can do the same for workplaces.

We firstly need to define what we need our workplaces to do for us, what outcomes we expect from our workplace, how we expect the workplace to support us. These will form the workplace’s performance criteria, and you can get these factors by asking your leaders, business managers and teams.

The next step is to gauge performance against those criteria. While there are a host of ways to assess workplace performance, two simple methods are conducting a Utilization Study and employing an Experience Survey.

A utilization study will help inform your workplace decisions and answer how employees are using your workplace, where are people collaborating, which spaces are most in-demand, how can you balance high demand in one location with over-supply in another, etc.

An Experience Survey involves asking people what is most important to them at work and how well the workplace supports their cause. They can help uncover challenges your people face in the work environment. It can help accurately identify gaps between what exists and what is desired.

Armed with this data, you will know why your workplace is underperforming. So what comes next?

A High Performance Workplace

To create a high performance workplace, we can learn from high performers in the workplace. We can adopt some of the strategies they use to differentiate themselves. To begin this journey, here are three ideas:

  1. Anticipate: High performers anticipate change. They stay ahead of the pack. Similarly, for a workplace to be ahead of the curve, you need to determine what the future requirements of your teams will be and align accordingly.
  2. Evolve: High performers evolve constantly. Continuous monitoring of changing business is critical for workplaces as this will inform the adaptive changes needed to ensure workplace effectiveness.
  3. Leverage: High performers leverage their networks. Your workplace decisions need to be informed not only by your real estate teams, but also by your human resource and technology teams. This ensures your people have the right tools to do their best work.

In summary

Think of your workplace as a key member and contributor to your team. If your workplace is underperforming, take concrete steps to find out why and initiate remedial action. No resource can be as powerful to an organization as a high performance workplace. Take full advantage of this often missed team member and turn your highly paid slacker into your best performer.

It's time to re-evaluate your workplace strategy. Let's have a chat.