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The end of carrots and sticks

Improving the wellbeing of employees in design agencies as a means to increase performance

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Why Wellbeing in a Work Environment matters

The workplace experience is reflected in the lives of employees of design agencies, especially since people work one third of their lives. The better the work-life, the better the private-life of the workers.

It is for the best interest of the design agencies not to work as soulless machines. Most people want to feel appreciated and valued at work. Considering workers only as tools toward profit is counterproductive. Surrounded by a culture of learning, development and high performance, employees deliver better products and services. As a result, it improves the experience of the customers, prompting them to come back and recommend to others.

Money or other extrinsic motivators do not necessarily make people happier. The wellbeing is independent from the income. Nevertheless, a job providing personal fulfillment is an impactful motivation factor. Companies with high engagement report 2.5 times the revenue of companies with low engagement levels. Treating people well and authentically respecting them leads to a better business productivity. Companies like Google have invested in employee support and employee satisfaction. As a result, the performance has risen by 37 percent. Thus, workers use the time they have more effectively, increasing the pace at which they can work without sacrificing quality. Satisfaction really pays off.

By establishing a caring work environment for its employees, design agencies can increase productivity. It represents a human and long-term commitment that would add value to a company implementing such an approach. Human capital is a precious competitive advantage and not a liability. The wellbeing of employees is a subject which affects everyone: the individual, the organisation and the society. It effects the quality of our lives and our attitude to life. Wellbeing is everyone’s concern.

Intrinsic Motivators over Hygiene Factors

Wellbeing in a working environment is a broad topic that is difficult to handle, as human factors are unsystematic and diverse. However, a consciousness of personal growth and how to foster motivation is important for a design agency to have engaged and satisfied employees in order to reach high performance and wellbeing within the organisation. To do so, an appropriate and humanised leadership is key to reach such a purpose that needs to be implemented and supported by the culture of the company. Furthermore, the external context of design agencies is constantly changing and the business model intensifies the insecurity that such SMEs have on their shoulders. Thus, the stakeholders of design agencies have to bear a lot of pressure that can consequently undermine the working environment. Therefore, an appropriate orchestration is crucial to overcome this wicked problem but also to deploy the full potential of the employees. Organisational systems, incentives, tools and physical environment, knowledge and skills, individual attributes, all these factors have a significant impact on the performance as well as on the wellbeing of the employees.

Design agencies need to embrace change and react in an agile manner to face all these challenges. In order to constantly improve, they also need to work together adequately according to the current situation. Communication and transparency are part of the engine oil that enables the organisation to operate smoothly and efficiently. Furthermore, meaningful work, supportive management, positive work environment, growth opportunity and trust in leadership are elements that result in great employee experience. Carrots and sticks will not work in the context of a design agency. Thus, leaders need to support and guide their employees so that they can grow and head towards a shared goal. Making a positive change within the organisation is left to their goodwill. The world needs more of business owners that design a better place for their employees!

Excerpt from my Bachelor Thesis in Design Management Int., (2018).

Sources:
Kilponen, E. (2013). Insperity. Retrived from https://www.insperity.com/blog/how-employee-engagement-affects-your-businesss-bottom-line/
Kubler. (2017). Money Won’t Make You Happy. Here’s What Will, According to Science. Retrived from https://www.inc.com/quora/money-wont-make-you-happy-heres-what-will-accordin.html
Imperative. (2014). Purpose at work.
Warwick, U. o. (2014). Google is right: We work better when we’re happy. Retrived from http://www.futurity.org/work-better-happy/

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