Creating that sought after workplace.
The workplace environment has a massive impact on our daily lives. Whether we work at the organization or utilize its services, the environment in which people work impacts productivity and service. We have all experienced the clerk that hates their job, and it comes through in every word they utter to us and every action during the encounter. Wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone loved their job and the environment in which they worked? That is the true heart of Oteos – to maximize productivity by improving the employee experience. As Simon Sinek said, “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” So how does an organization foster an ideal work environment?
Everyone has a slightly different idea of the perfect work environment, but there are some basic components that make up a place that gives employees reasons to show up, enthusiastic and driven and to work hard for the organization. The work environment includes the physical surroundings (location, facilities), the culture of the organization, potential for personal and professional growth and relationships between employers and employees, to name a few.
Lead By Example
First and foremost, leadership must lead by example. When leadership lives the vision and values of the organization, it will resonate with the staff. Management must be clear about the mission of the organization; it’s vision and the values. This is the foundation of the organization and must be at the core of every work encounter. Leaders cannot act in a parental role of “because I said so,” nor can we expect our team to “do as I say, not as I do.” This type of old-school thinking will contribute to resentment, breakdown in communication, and lack of respect for the leadership team.
Two-way communication is essential in a healthy work environment. It contributes to the development of trusting relationships among staff and with management. Too often, management utilizes one-way communication by way of providing information without seeking feedback. Providing employees with a platform to safely express concerns and opinions is vital to improving trust and respect. As important is then taking this feedback and actually doing something with it. I once participated in a team cohesiveness survey after a major transition in the organization. Management apparently did not appreciate our honest feedback. Rather than take that information and develop a plan to improve on the environment, management expressed their displeasure in our responses and instructed us on how we should have answered the questions. Nothing further was done to improve the team dynamics leading to a further decline in job satisfaction, increasing distrust of management, and a worsening work environment.
Using two-way communication not only engages employees, but it leads to an increase in collaboration and offers opportunities to reinforce the organization’s vision. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and increases the ability to understand of the protocols and process that management is working with.
Encouraging personal and professional development among staff contributes to job satisfaction and loyalty to the organization. There are numerous ways to provide this to employees. First, ensure that every employee is appropriately trained and provided with the necessary supports to do their job well. Beyond this basic need, support employees with continuing education within the organization and outside of it. Meet with staff regarding growth – more frequently than the annual review- and help them develop a plan. Address any skill gaps while reinforcing their strengths and identify areas for growth. Support additional university classes, conferences, and any learning opportunities that will contribute to the growth of the employee.
Beyond professional growth is personal growth. An ideal environment supports their employees in achieving a work-life balance. We’ve all experienced challenging life situations, and inevitably they will spill over to the work environment. Employees that practice good self-care and healthy living with good supports outside of the organization will be better equipped to handle the challenges that life throws at them. Offering coaching, discounts for gym memberships, access to counseling (dietary, mental health, etc.), and encouraging the use of breaks and vacation time can all contribute to a healthy life outside of work.
A solid leader will learn how to appreciate and appropriately acknowledge their individual employees for their achievements. This does not have to come in the form of financial rewards. Acknowledging their achievements both privately and in front of others will encourage them to continue their excellence within the organization. Make sure that you are genuinely recognizing the effort and not just complimenting them. Compliments stay with them for a minute, but a genuine acknowledgment of their effort and ability will remain with them long-term and make them want to continue their effort.
Organizations must take an active role and be intentional in creating a positive work environment. Not only will it increase productivity and creativity, but it will also decrease turnover and more importantly, keep unhappy employees from spreading their negativity amongst the rest of the team. Negativity spreads quickly, and this type of animosity causes your business to rot from the inside out.
As a business and a leader, how will you provide and contribute to a positive work environment? As an employee or perhaps an informal leader on the team, how can you encourage a positive environment from the ground up? We would love to hear your thoughts.