Why we all benefit when key things stay the same
Variety may be the spice of life, but too much variety in the workplace (by which we mean not enough routine and consistency) can be a bit hard for everyone to stomach.
No-one wants the working day to be relentlessly monotonous, but what employees most crave is stability and a sense of purpose. They want to be able to depend on what happens around them and how their input is viewed. Most importantly, they want to be confident in their understanding of what is expected of them.
“Routine” and “consistency” are complementary but different concepts in a workplace setting and they both impact upon, and are affected by, what happens in the HR department.
“Routine” is about how things are done; how individual tasks are scheduled and prioritised; how people indicate that things are going well or aren’t; how employees and management respond to personal and professional issues as they arise. If things keep changing, the workplace can seem a bit chaotic. If you have a routine, it’s easier to tell when things are going awry.
You want your people to address the challenges their work throws at them, not to be constantly challenged (and frustrated) just trying to keep up with a whole lot of changes seemingly made without good reason – or at least without much thought.
And that means routine should include rules. Flexibility within a structure is important; flexibility without a structure is a recipe for disaster. It is more important that rules are clear and respected than that they are popular. That can be a tricky tightrope for HR teams to walk.
“Consistency” speaks more to workplace culture and to the policies, procedures and practices that underpin it. It creates dependable working conditions, it creates trust and helps the bottom line.
Studies show that workplaces where consistency is present are better organised, have higher levels of productivity and attract and keep the best people. Everyone understands what the organisation is trying to achieve and what it stands for.
That last point is particularly important in the current environment, where people are increasingly choosing where they want to work based on whether an organisation’s mission, values and behaviour align with their own view of the world.
And consistency is an everyday issue (which in some ways makes it routine). Without a consistent working environment, employees find themselves second-guessing everything they do.