Blog: 6 Reasons Why It’s Time To Bring The F-Word Back To The Workplace

In most workplaces the F-word is a big NO-NO. In a politically-correct environment where the slightest diversion from the commonly-approved language raises a red-flag, leaders are afraid to even think about the F-word. While employees yearn for the opportunity to experience the banned-word, leaders are concerned that caving in will bring an unexpected and uncontrollable chaos. In a slow-to-evolve work environment, some things, including the F-word, are just better left unsaid.

This needs to change. Leaders need to use the F-word more. We need to Funk up the way we think about company culture and employee experience.

Failure

The idea of failure scares the shit out of most people. Although it is a common practice in tech companies, where failure is part of the product development and by extension part of the culture, the more traditional industries have a hard time accepting and celebrating failure.
This risk-averse mindset deeply impact a company’s ability to attract top talent and create a culture of experimentation, innovation and competitiveness.

Your Brain Actually Expands On Failure

Something interesting happens to the brain when you make a mistake. According to a report in published in Scientific American, your brain begins compiling information about the experience and actually gets bigger throughout the learning scenario. And, while the brain returns to close to its original size after the learning experience, it retains new neural pathways by taking in new information, compiling the key takeaways from trial and error. Making mistakes matures the brain, resulting in more efficient synapses and fundamentally altered neurons. In short, failure can actually make you smarter.

When the idea of failure is applied to business management, it drives far more innovation and deeper employee happiness through encouraged creativity.

The growing acceptance of failure is changing the way companies approach innovation. It helps people overcome their fear of failure and, in the process, create a culture of intelligent contributors.

Feedback

75 percent of employees say they will stay longer at a company that listens to their feedback and actually acts on it. How you build a culture of feedback, candor and empowerment will determine your company’s success. When your culture is based on open and candid communication, where employees feel empowered to provide feedback to their peers and managers (and not be the recipients of their manager’s feedback), you see a much higher sense of belonging, appreciation and engagement.

89% of HR leaders agree that ongoing peer feedback and check-ins are key for successful outcomes. This report also stresses the importance of what it calls values-based recognition. Feedback and recognition should always tie back to a company’s core values and mission. Employees want to be reminded that their work has purpose and meaning. This is another reminder that employee engagement should not be relegated to the HR department, but instead, be featured as a central part of overall business strategy.

So… how do you create a culture of feedback? The foundation of a feedback culture can be formed by using these three pillars: ask, listen and act.

Fairness

How many times have you heard children complain that the way they are treated “is not fair”? Well, adults – especially in the workplace – feel the same when promotions, recognition, raises are not based on merit and fair assessment, but on some obscure criteria that promote bad behaviors, stepping on each other’s feet, bullying and ass-kissing.

Focusing on transparency and frequent communication can reduce employee concerns and help improve productivity. “I love my job and work hard every day because I’m treated poorly.” It doesn’t happen, E-V-E-R. Satisfaction is the first stepping-stone on the quest to increase employee engagement and achieve exceptional performance. Treating employees – humans – with fairness and dignity is common sense, yet not all companies embrace it. Seeking positive ways to restore fairness, trust, and dignity is fundamental for a company to drive towards every day in order to achieve exceptional and sustainable performance.

Freedom

The old days of micromanaging team members are gone. Employees look for organizations to give them freedom to let them do what they do best. However, you cannot give employees freedom without setting expectations, according to Patty McCord, former Chief Talent Officer at Netflix. “We realized that if we used just the word “freedom,” it implied the freedom to do anything. We didn’t really mean to give people freedom to do anything. We coupled freedom with responsibility. It also implies reliability and deliverables.”

Managers give out tasks, but leaders show people how to accomplish them. People are inspired by what they see and those they look up to. By giving your team the freedom to take charge and assume responsibility, you gain their respect and inspire a culture of passion for what you do.

Flexibility

More and more organizations realize now that a healthy, engaging and inclusive culture is an important part of operational success. It’s clear that the strict nine-to-five workday is outdated – and it won’t help employers attract or maintain today’s top talent. Prospective employees, who are in the driver’s seat and are very particular about picking the right culture fit for them, look for work flexibility as one of the main reasons to join a company. While flexible hours and schedules are an important aspect of a flexible workplace, the 2018 Global Talent Trends study noted that flexibility comes in more forms than just work arrangement. Mercer claims that flexibility also involves rethinking what work is done, how it is done, and by whom.

Flexibility is an important component of a successful company culture because:
1. It builds trust.

2. It builds loyalty.

3. It fosters happiness.

4. It bolsters productivity.

5. It creates diversity.

6. It connects people.

7. It attracts top talent.

8. It supports success.

For the People

To build the workplace of tomorrow, it has become critical to empathize with and understand employees’ needs, motivations and aspirations; provide employees with the freedom and empowerment to define what their own experience should be. As customers are now accustomed to drive their own experiences, employees expect the same level of personalization from their employees. Gone are the days where organizations treated their employees as the same bunch.

Employers must change their mindset and adopt more of a consumer approach to engage with their employees.

Technology (think of people data, AI, machine learning) plays an important role in the design and delivery of those experiences, but the human element will always be at the center of the EX, according to Mark Williams, Chief Marketing Officer at MHR and People First (a division of MHR). Analysts, HR futurists and forward-thinking business leaders are challenging HR leaders to think about whether or not they are ready for a future of work that incorporates both an emphasis on technology, robotics and AI, alongside a requirement to embrace the people side of work and human needs.

Tomorrow’s successful workplaces will be the ones who put people first.

Which F-word do you swear by at work?