4 keys to building a modern workplace

September 13, 2019

For small businesses, the ability to adapt is often essential to success. A rapidly changing workforce means businesses must increasingly re-evaluate old standards in order to attract top talent. The most successful businesses are committed to building a modern workplace that better aligns with the values and priorities of a workplace that is becoming increasingly diverse and well-educated. Here are four key ways you can ensure that your small business is keeping up.

1. Rethink traditional roles

Until recently, the typical workplace was one of independence and hierarchy. This could be seen in the use of cubicles and office suites to physically separate employees. It was also reflected in a leadership structure usually based on authority and obedience. Those things simply don't work very well today. Modern employees often feel constricted by narrowly defined roles and respond poorly to a traditional management style based on authority.

Instead, invest in creating a progressive work environment that is more open and collaborative. Encourage your employees to work together and make sure that your working spaces are designed to facilitate it. Most importantly, hire talented people and empower them to make contributions in ways that are meaningful to them. Focus on cultivating a positive work culture in which everyone in the workplace can feel personally invested in the success of the business. Give employees in every role a genuine reason to believe their work matters by showing them how their contributions fit into the larger whole.

2. Invest in people

One of the simplest ways to bring in talented people and keep them satisfied is an increased salary. At least, that's the conventional wisdom. As it turns out, the truth is more complex. For about 90% of workers, compensation isn't a major issue as long as it's competitive. Offering larger salaries is nice, but modern businesses should also be investing more in the employees themselves. 

In practical terms, this means offering the tools for employees to better themselves and reach their fullest potential. A strong opportunity for professional development is among the greatest drivers of employee engagement among workers 35 and under. Providing access to coaching, training, seminars, and other growth opportunities is highly beneficial to both employees and the company as a whole. Likewise, cross-training within your business can help your employees expand their abilities and better understand how they fit in. However, it's also important to offer employees opportunities to put their developing skills to use. Providing clear paths for advancement and roles that expand along with employees' capabilities is essential.

3. Make the most of technology

The modern workforce is more reliant on technology than ever before. Smart businesses put this fact to use by leveraging technology to make their workplaces more efficient, flexible, and collaborative. Employees today place great value on the ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Offering flexible scheduling is a great way to make your workplace more appealing, but technology can expand the possibilities even further. Tech tools like virtual desktops and AI-powered virtual assistants make it easier than ever for many employees to conduct their work from home or wherever else they happen to be.

Technology also provides the tools to foster a more cohesive and collaborative work environment. Tools like Slack, Trello, Yammer, and SharePoint offer a platform for a wholly modern workplace in which communication, collaboration, and project management are rolled together into an instantaneous package. By introducing connectivity technologies into your workplace, you empower your employees to be more flexible, engaged, and team-oriented than ever. 

4. Provide a purpose

A recent survey indicated that 73% of employees who consider their companies to be purpose-driven feel engaged in their jobs. That number drops to just 23% among those who don't believe their companies to be purpose-driven. These results are hardly surprising. Most professionals want to work for an organization that shares their values and makes a positive difference in the world. In fact, 89% of surveyed professionals would take a cut in salary in order to work for a business whose values matched their own. Additionally, organizations that operate with a strong sense of purpose generate much greater confidence, boosting investment and often leading to more long-term growth.

This reflects the basic truth that most people want to believe their work means something. This has become a far greater priority in recent years. Kindling a sense of purpose in your employees is essential to building a positive work culture. To that end, it's important to remind people how they can make a difference through their work. Help them see how their contributions can improve lives whether in their community or in society as a whole. Craft a mission statement that reflects the values your company cares about and captures how your business is making a positive impact.

At Hiscox we believe in a strong work environment

The small business environment is more competitive and challenging than it has ever been. Bringing in talented people and keeping them engaged and productive is fundamental, but that's often easier said than done. Building a positive work culture requires understanding the shifting composition of the workforce and tapping into their values and motivations. To stay competitive, modern businesses need to invest in creating an inclusive, progressive work environment that allows employees to grow and produce meaningful contributions.