How should companies tailor the work environment to suit individual needs?

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Written by Nick Gold on 10 August 2018

The world is changing at an incredible pace. In the chaos that is the evolving planet, individuals are experiencing change at a rate that has never been experienced before. The historical structure that previously enveloped an individual’s life plans, both personally and professionally, has been shaken up as attitudes, goals, plans and ambitions have been re-evaluated.

As such, the workplace and the employers running companies have to understand the new drivers for individuals. A subject that keeps coming up is the generational differences and that we have five different generations (for the first time ever) in working environments.

The challenge for businesses and employers is to deliver a motivating environment to all of these age groups by paying attention to their different drivers.

In my eyes, there are some fundamental tenets that need to be used as a baseline for all employers in how they deliver certain messages to employees before the work environment is tweaked to suit individuals or generations.

The fundamental tenet which should override everything is that we spend a lot of time at work, whether that is physically being in the office or thinking about work related issues. As an employer, we need to ensure that the environment, both from a physical as well as a mental standpoint, is suited to allow all members of the team to thrive and enjoy themselves.

In my eyes, there are some fundamental tenets that need to be used as a baseline for all employers in how they deliver certain messages to employees.

After all, it is not disputed that, while individuals of any generation are driven by pay and reward, they are also driven by much more than that. For example, feeling valued by the company and that they are achieving great things as well as having an environment which motivates them to be successful in business.

The critical element to this is for employers to understand all these different requirements and how they fit into a business (for example, if people want to work flexibly how do you foster a team environment). Once the company understands how they would achieve this within the context of their organisation’s culture, then the critical element is flexibility and openness.

The company or the people who are responsible for managing the team, not necessarily from a business perspective but from a personal development viewpoint, needs to take it down to an individual level to provide the encouragement, flexibility and formal or unformal training to support each team member.

This individual tailoring and spending time to understand and create working environments for individuals rather than collectives (while having the baseline ‘culture’ requirements for the company) provides the mentorship and leadership that is required in today’s workplace. 

This raises two questions which hopefully I will return to in future blog posts. First, if we are living in (or moving towards) an age where employers are providing tailored workplaces for individuals within their team based on drivers and ambitions, then the boundaries between mentorship and leadership start blurring.

The separation of these two disciplines and their requirements and aims is an area which, for me, is immensely interesting and worth exploring.

The second area is that if, as employers, managers are looking at individuals of all levels and tailoring the working environment around them to make sure they are ideally positioned to deliver, then the question arises as to how HR should departments and the team managers interact in this ‘new world’ to deliver results.

Can HR truly be separated from line management or will they no longer be seen as separate functions? This is certainly an area to be considering to ensure that the employer is delivering the ideal environment for any employee to succeed and achieve amazing things, both for themselves as well as for the company.


About the author

Nick Gold is managing director of market-leading speaker bureau and consultancy, Speakers Corner

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