21 Nov 2019 02:31pm

Organisational behaviour: keeping staff happy at work

Organisational behaviour is defined as the field of study which sets forth answers as to why people behave the way they do in professional settings

The human nature has a plethora of complex layers, and studying such with reference to how it adapts when one is surrounded by subordinates, superiors, and a heavy workload, can provide valuable insights as to how the associated parameters can be fine-tuned with a view to benefitting both the employer and the employee, creating in this way a win-win situation.

People tend to have two separate sets of personalities, depending on whether they are at work or off it, with the two of them being mutually deployed. In the former situation, depending on their position and responsibilities, people may adopt a stricter communicational regime and sterner appearance, while in a more casual environment they may appear to be more laid back. The million-dollar question is how do you get these two personality sets to align as much as possible in a seamless manner?

It all starts with workplace culture. A 2018 Harvard Business Review article titled Why Great Employees Leave “Great Cultures” makes a case in point about how organisational behaviour is driven by three core elements that can be found in the culture of a company: systems, practices, and behaviours. You need all three to be aligned in order to have a great culture in place, the author says.

Let us start with systems. An organisation may be heavily invested in technology, another may depend on doing things manually, the old way. Irrespectively, the underlying goals that these systems serve, such as hiring, assessments, and rewards, must be successfully met in all cases; transparently too. In this way, employees gain confidence in an employer’s systems and their associated formal processes, thus leading to peace of mind about the overall system working like clockwork.

Moving off to practices, everything from company outings for a pint (or two) of beer to on-the-job appraisals and feedback mechanisms fall into this broad category. An organisation must target its practices to suit the needs of all its employees, not only some. Holding a company-wide poll as to where the next Christmas staff party should be held will be perceived by the working population as a democratic and, thus, fair practice, even if disco is marginally decided over pop!

Lastly, we have behaviours. These are directly linked to company values, which in turn have their origins in the company’s leadership and governance. The tone at the top is a very powerful force – it can make the difference between appreciation and depreciation when it comes to an organisation’s most valuable asset: its workforce. People need to have clear visibility as to what is expected from them, behaviour-wise, in order to achieve the one thing that perhaps matters the most to them: progress through the ranks. Give them this kind of clarity and they will stay. Deprive them of it and they will walk.

The study of organisational behaviour is one whose findings are worth their weight in gold. Arriving at a certain set of rules that if adhered to will make people within an organisation feel “at home” can bring about countless benefits for both sides, including a rise in productivity and motivation, better interpersonal relationships between colleagues, and an increase in workplace happiness, the latter being the driving force of employees’ morale. And, while fine-tuning a company’s human resources may take considerable time and effort, the end-result makes everything worthwhile, every single time.

In sum, you don’t really need free muffins, company scooters, and a billiards room to keep people happy in the workplace. All it takes is a good deal of genuine consideration for their wants and needs. The actions taken thereafter by an organisation is what builds the kind of culture that persuades people to invest themselves in their company of choice.

Spyros Yiassemides is a partner at Yiassemides & Co, Cyprus