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Workplace Culture: Is There an App For That?

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The bulk of my career was spent at one Fortune 500 company. We had performance reviews, orientation, training, annual career counseling and everything else that is just supposed to happen to make you successful. I never realized I was in corporate Disneyland.

Not to say the company was perfect. That company doesn’t exist right? But there were processes for everything. The personnel manual sat on every manager’s bookshelf so if you didn’t know the answer, you would just spin around and pull the book down. You knew how much vacation you were able to take. You knew what was considered excessive absence. You knew what your numbers needed to be for the company sales recognition trip.

Workplace Disneyland

© Flickr user Sean MacEntee

This company was also a leader in diversity and inclusion. It was very apparent when a division had under representation. We knew, leaders of that organization would be challenged to find a qualified candidate or start a succession plan. We knew what was considered appropriate and inappropriate behavior at work and events. We had open door policies, executive interviews and round table meetings for 2nd level managers to meet with employees. We even had an anonymous comment venue. Should you feel uncomfortable sharing your thoughts or concerns you still had a place to share your feelings.

There was a time that it was pretty unheard of for people to leave this company voluntarily. You may have been ushered out due to lack of performance, but I can’t remember anyone leaving on their own. It wasn’t until after I left this organization and worked for several other companies that I realized this was the exception and not the norm.

I went on to sell HR services. We worked with small businesses to emphasize the importance for office processes. But, as sales professionals, we never received performance reviews, merit increases, or career counseling. Unbelievable. Turnover was high despite high based salaries and great benefits.

While in Chicago, I did consulting and training for an organization that had over 300 employees. During the training, several women informed me of harassment taking place in their office. While at their office, I actually witnessed very inappropriate conversations. Several women asked for suggestions on how to handle it. I advised them to speak with their manager. Unfortunately, it was this manager who was harassing them. “So now,” they ask, “who do we turn to?” Several had reported it to their HR manager, but the department told them to work it out. Really?

After completing my focus groups, I asked about the procedures for reporting harassment. The HR manager, confident they “had something for that”, informed me she would look it up. In the end, nothing seemed to happen.

Harassment at Work

© Flickr user Kaleidoscope View Photography

These days we want quick answers for everything. Positive workplace culture is no exception. We want a place where we are supported, valued, and trusted. We want to push a button and get feedback or have problems solved. It would be great if there was an app for the perfect organization.

Does your company have performance management processes and anti-harassment procedures? If a company is not consistent in the treatment of employees and don’t have processes in place, are they at risk for high turnover, poor moral, and possibly being dragged into court?

There is an answer, it’s just not instant. Take the time to put procedures, policies and education in place. It is a business imperative. Just because you’re small doesn’t mean you can let your business run amok. Have an HR manager do an audit. Train your staff. Conduct annual harassment awareness. You will be a better company for it!

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LaJuana Warren

LaJuana Warren

LaJuana Warren, PHR, is a graduate of IUPUI and has over 20 years of experience in the corporate world with Xerox Corporation, where she held various roles in operations and sales, and managed the Xerox Strategic Alliance Program. LaJuana is a past VP of the Diversity Roundtable of Central Indiana.
LaJuana Warren

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