Is your organization behaving?


“Oh behave”! as Austin Powers would say in the Spy movie. Behaviour, or lack thereof, is very important in an organization, so much so that it affects not only the culture and employees’ performance but the company’s bottom line. The news is flooded lately with examples of poor behaviour in the workplace. Uber and Amazon comes to mind. Uber with the toxic woes of diversity issues, discrimination and sexual harassment. It was reported, via an editorial in the New York Times, that Amazon has a culture of punishment, overachievement and fear. These factors influence how employees behave at work – their attitudes and attributes in the workplace.

The field of organizational behaviour is a very important one as shown in the two examples. It is concerned with predicting, explaining and managing people’s behaviour at work. For better or worse, we all participate in some form in our organization’s culture. I work for a major insurance company which is on a tear of a culture shift brought on by many variables –  both internal and external. The internal factors are heavily weighted by the external factors such as the current social and technological climate. Yes, the robots are here. Welcome to the age of automation.  The name of the game is: adapt to survive or perish.

Organizational behaviour goes hand in hand with the field of organizational psychology. Organizational Psychologists study the behaviour of employees at work and how they shape the culture of an organization. Why do people stay with a company? Why do they leave? What motivates people? How can teams work together effectively? These are all questions an organizational psychologist would analyze as part of their work in organizational behaviour.

We all want to work for organizations that cultivate synergies with their people, processes and systems. Organizations that are strong, collaborative, engaging and innovative. Cultivating and maintaining those attributes start with the social aspects of an organization – the effort of its people. Let’s not forget the role of leaders in organizational behaviour. It starts at the top. Employees typically model what they see and experience.

When employees are engaged, demonstrate a willingness towards learning, are motivated etc. they in turn create positive, rewarding organizational cultures. It starts with cultivating critical behaviours.

L&D as a competitive edge

Learning and development (L&D) typically rank among the top five “wants” on employee satisfaction surveys. Employees are keen to develop both personally and professionally. Yet, when times get tough, the learning and development department is the first on the chopping block. This comes at the expense of employee engagement, being the employer of choice and commanding a competitive edge in the marketplace.

With the changing employee demographic – from Generation X and Y to Millennials – the current workforce looks for career development, career opportunities and continuous learning. According to a report from Aon Hewitt, 2014 Trends in Global Employee Engagement, the top drivers of engagement are: brand which includes company reputation and corporate social responsibility; leadership which includes senior leadership, and performance which speaks to career opportunities and learning & competing

A company’s greatest asset is its people resources. Having an engaged, knowledgeable and skilled workforce is not only good for the bottom line but also good for competing for top talent.  Company loyalty is not what it used to be so employees today are looking for organizations that will invest in their success. This is a driver for retention. What is the ROI on this investment? Employees who remain – less turnover, employees who advance and become brand ambassadors and employees who are invested in the company’s earning potential. After all, a company is only as good as its people.