CoAdvantage – Workplace fragmentation – or breakdowns in workplace cohesion – can be a serious problem. Fragmentation, which is what happens when the different parts of an organization stop working in tandem – can erode employee morale, engagement, and productivity, while making the business less effective in its operations. It can take multiple forms, including departments getting siloed from each other; knowledge getting trapped inside individual people’s heads instead of being shared; process variations proliferating until different people, teams, or locations handle the same tasks in different ways; and so on.
But what if your workplace has already become fragmented, or is at risk of doing so? Here are three steps to prevent fragmentation and repair damage if it has already occurred.
1: Consolidate knowledge and propagate it throughout the organization.
Do not allow critical business-related knowledge or information to get locked inside individual workers’ heads. What will you do when longtime employee Sue leaves if she takes all her institutional knowledge with her?
Instead, all business-critical information needs to be captured. Written policies, standard operating procedures, internal networks, and knowledge wikis allow information to be accessed and used by anyone. Don’t stop there: make sure to disseminate that knowledge throughout the organization. Use activities like training, mentoring programs, one-on-one coaching, internal networking groups, and similar efforts to ensure knowledge doesn’t get trapped in one area or with one person.
Similarly, make sure to update policies and knowledge bases regularly.
2: Standardize as much as possible.
Variations are like weeds; they constantly pop up and can make an organization wildly inconsistent, creating all sorts of problems and risks. For example, many organizations end up with vendor contracts and payment terms that proliferate over time, so they’re juggling dozens of different terms at any given time. Or one restaurant location may follow food safety requirements in one way, while another location follows different procedures.
As with knowledge, capturing and formalizing procedures is important. Written standard operating procedures and guidelines can prevent variation in how things get done. When standardizing, compare variations to identify the best. If employee A completes a task in one way, but employee B find a better way but doesn’t share their innovation, not only will the business start experiencing inconsistency in outcomes, but it will also lose out on a better way to do things across the board.
3: Engage in team-building exercises and events.
Fragmentation of teams can do severe damage to an organization’s effectiveness. Businesses perform more effectively and more productively when team members are acting in concert instead of at odds under an “us versus them” mentality. Teambuilding can take many different forms, including collaborative activities and games; cross-functional training; mentorship programs; incentive programs that reward cooperation rather than competition; etc. The goal is to get your business operating as a unit, not a collection of people all working at cross-purposes.
CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.