Advice for leaders: 7 ways to create a positive work environment
The link between employee satisfaction and performance is undeniable: Happier employees are more productive and engaged in their work, stick with a company for a longer period of time, and produce better results than their discontented peers. A 2018 Gallup study even found a connection between employee satisfaction and business revenue, with high-engagement workplaces reporting 21% higher rates of profitability.
There are a lot of factors that determine employee satisfaction, from salary and benefits to commute times and workload. Managers and department heads don’t always have control over those issues, but they can help cultivate a positive work environment to boost employee morale, reduce workplace stress, and increase staff satisfaction.
Here are seven considerations for how to create and maintain a positive work environment for all employees:
1. Establish and maintain a positive attitude
Company cultures are created from the top down. When leaders come to work with a positive attitude and consciously reinforce that mindset, often that positivity rubs off. Treat every problem as an opportunity to improve the business and don’t get discouraged by setbacks.
Employees look to their supervisors to set the tone for workplace culture, so if managers, department heads and other organizational leaders unfailingly project a positive outlook and willingness to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, they will soon follow suit.
That being said, every staff member contributes in their own ways to the company culture. New hires are likely to take their cues from their fellow co-workers rather than a department head, for instance. When everyone comes to work with a positive attitude, it feels like anything can be accomplished.
2. Create an open-door policy
Division between management and staff can breed resentment and discontent. Employees want to know that they can take any problem or complaint to their supervisors without facing a lot of scrutiny or judgment. An open-door policy helps establish trust with workers, showing them that they should always feel comfortable coming to their supervisors for guidance and assistance.
Maintaining an open-door policy is easier said than done, especially for managers with high workloads and busy schedules. Consistently encouraging employees to come by their manager’s office with any problems they have is worth the effort, though. It helps foster a more collaborative workplace culture that prizes two-way communication.
Open-door policies only work when employees take advantage of them. All staff members should feel comfortable taking any concerns they have to their supervisors, especially if it involves morale.
3. Redesign the office layout
Cubicles and dedicated workstations may be the status quo in offices today, but that setup isn’t always the most conducive for encouraging employee engagement and productivity. Creating a more comfortable work environment that allows staff members to stretch their legs and get a change of scenery can result in a more positive, active, and collaborative workplace. Employees won’t feel as if they are chained to their desks, giving them the space to find the right working environment that maximizes their productivity.
If it’s in the budget, consider other workplace perks like complimentary coffee, snacks, and drinks, or setting up a relaxation space or office gym.
4. Invest in professional development
Employees who feel like they are treading water with their careers are more likely to express discontent and unhappiness. Presenting staff members with a clear track for professional growth and advancement gives them a clear purpose and goals to strive for.
Provide hands-on training to develop employee skill sets, especially in areas of the business they are interested in but may not be directly involved in. For instance, if a member of the sales team wants to transition to a career in marketing, enlist the marketing department to hold training sessions on marketing fundamentals. Let them shadow marketing calls and meetings to get a better sense of what the day-to-day realities of that work is like.
Businesses can also encourage employees to earn professional credentials, perhaps even paying program fees and expenses. Business leaders who show staff members that they are dedicated to their professional development can better cultivate a positive work environment.
Employees should be sure to pounce on professional development opportunities when they arise. It’s easy to put off certification programs or turn down additional training sessions because of responsibilities both on the job and outside of work. Take the time to pursue professional development whenever possible, regardless of the career stage.
5. Celebrate wins and accomplishments
Employees want to feel valued by their supervisors and business leaders. Positive reinforcement is a very important aspect of creating a happier workplace. When staff members go above and beyond the call of duty, recognize their efforts. Good job performance should always be rewarded – if not monetarily, than at least with some hearty kudos.
Celebrate organizational wins, whether it’s completing a project on time and under budget, meeting quarterly revenue goals, or exceeding customer or client expectations. Employees will enjoy coming to work more if they know their managers appreciate all of the hard work they put in to their assignments.
Staff members should feel to congratulate each other on their successes as well. It helps create a more inclusive and close-knit working environment when everyone’s ready and willing to throw some kudos around.
6. Manage employee workloads
Maintaining a strong work-life balance is a very important aspect of employee satisfaction and happiness. Employees who are overburdened and spend too much time in the office are more likely to burn out and look elsewhere for work.
Although many industries have seasonal peaks that inevitability ratchet up workloads – and workplace stress – managers should do what they can to evenly spread out assignments and never ask employees to take on too much. Keeping workloads manageable helps reduce stress and employee turnover.
Staff members should keep an eye out for their co-workers and look for signs of work fatigue or burnout. If someone’s struggling, offer to pick up some of their work to help shoulder the load. More seasoned employees can also serve as mentors to new hires, teaching them the ropes and helping them establish successful work routines.
7. Encourage organizational collaboration
A little autonomy is often a good thing for employee morale, but too much can make staff members feel isolated and overburdened. Facilitate cross-departmental collaboration whenever possible – not only will it bring more perspectives to projects and assignments, but it will help create a more cooperative and positive work environment.
Business leaders can push that collaborative spirit further with the help of unified communication solutions including video conferencing, audio conferencing, and cloud-based collaboration platforms. Regardless of where employees are located, they can always put their heads together to solve problems, hold brainstorming sessions, and complete projects.
Bringing staff members together through reliable, high-performance video and audio conferencing tools cultivates a more inclusive work environment and promotes better teamwork. When employees feel like a valued and respected member of the team, they are far more likely to be engaged and productive in their job duties.
Taking the time to promote a positive work environment is well worth the effort, boosting employee satisfaction, increasing staff performance, and encouraging a business’s best employees to continue growing with the organization.
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