9 Ideas for Creating a Good Work Environment That Breeds Positivity
- A Positive Work Environment Starts With Onboarding
- Let Your Employees Co-Create Company Culture
- Ensure Regular Check-Ins and Allow Honest Feedback
- Regularly Recognize Small Wins and Big Achievements
- Provide Resources for Personal and Professional Development
- Make Sure Employees Feel Valued and Respected
- A Positive Workplace Emphasizes DEIB Practices
- Team Members Must Be Allowed a Work/Life Balance That Reduces Burnout
- Make Sure Your Workplace Environment Is Comfortable and Accessible
- Final Thoughts
It’s such a shame when employees dread coming into work. Not only that, it’s emotionally draining for them as well.
What you need to do is create a positive work environment that your employees will love being part of. This comes about through a cocktail mixture of physical practices and policies, an appreciation of mental wellbeing, and a strong DEIB practice that creates a sense of belonging.
If you’re looking for a way to improve your work environment, then take inspiration from these 9 ideas and implement them into your organization’s structure.
A Positive Work Environment Starts With Onboarding
A positive environment starts from the moment new employees enter a company. This can either be physically in an office, or digitally on a platform like Slack, if you work remotely. Or both, for hybrid workers.
But the groundwork for this positivity should be in the forefront of your mind in all that you, as an employer, strive to do. You should make sure that everything is in place for your new hire’s arrival to ensure their onboarding process is as stress-free as possible.
Research found that an employee’s first month was the most high-risk period for turnover rates, accounting for 40% of resignations. Not only will this be your new hire’s first taste of your organizational culture, it may be their first ever job. You need to be ready to accommodate and welcome them.
Here are some pointers and tips to keep in mind which will help with employee retention:
- To save time, try creating a video showcasing your work, what you do, and what a new employee can expect upon joining your company. This will help manage their expectations and give them an idea of how to prepare.
- Their first day shouldn’t be too much work. Think of it as a “welcome to the team”. Pace your onboarding over the space of a week, or try a probationary period to see how your employees do.
- Don’t patronize them with overly easy work, but also don’t throw them into the deep end without warning.
- Organize a buddy system to help introduce a new hire to the team and learn from who they will be in contact with the most. You don’t have to instruct the onboarding process all by yourself. Teamwork makes the dream work.
Let Your Employees Co-Create Company Culture
To do so, you need to know what type of culture you hope to achieve. There are several types of company culture which all come with their own expectations. Smaller businesses tend to adopt a clan-like culture, whereby everyone feels like a family and there is a strong focus on employee engagement and satisfaction. Larger businesses may have a hierarchical culture which follows a strict chain of command and is very focused on results.
You can’t develop this all by yourself. It takes active employee engagement for everyone to come together and build a culture you can all be proud of. But you need to be the one to set an example and steer people in the right direction.
Communicate your ideas by clarifying your core values. Make everyone aware of the type of culture you wish to foster, so that everyone can have an active part in working towards it. Stay consistent in your goals, and praise those who do a good job in promoting this positive culture. This maintains the feeling of community, where everyone has a shared responsibility in making a loveable workplace.
Ensure Regular Check-Ins and Allow Honest Feedback
Whilst autonomy and being trusted to get on and get the job done are essential to a positive work environment, it’s still important to provide direction and feedback when necessary. Don’t leave your employees floundering. Make sure they know what they’re doing, and then provide regular check-ins to ensure they’re staying on track.
Open communication is necessary across the board, especially when it comes to decision-making. Sure, you may be a manager to your employees, but they can also be stakeholders in your business who have a right to be heard, and have a role to play when it comes to policies that will affect them.
This works both ways. You need to communicate with them, but they should also feel able to communicate with you. Listening and reacting to employee needs gives you an idea of how satisfied your workers are, or what their main concerns may be. Everyone has struggles once in a while, whether they be internal in terms of workload or coworker disagreements, or external in terms of personal struggles with family, loss, or injury.
A good HR department will be a cornerstone of creating a positive work environment. A dedicated team where your employees can turn to in times of need is vital.
Regularly Recognize Small Wins and Big Achievements
Employee recognition is one of the main drivers of engagement and happiness in the workplace. You should always be on the lookout to reward your employees for their hard work, successes, dedication, and achievements.
If employees know how their work directly contributes to the bottom line, they will feel more motivated to impact it. This not only boosts employee morale, but promotes collective contribution towards a common goal. Everyone has a role to play, and no one feels left out.
Make sure you recognize both the achievements of individual workers and entire teams of employees. Whilst their objectives may be different and impact different sectors of the company, the overall outcome will still be positive in furthering business potential, so don’t favor one achievement over the other. The last thing you want is for people to not feel encouraged to do their best.
In terms of rewards and incentives, you could opt for a variety of methods, such as financial benefits like bonuses, or verbal/written praise. If you wanted to include the opinions of the entire company, you could develop an employee recognition form which gives everyone a voice in the decision, and might make you aware of who has gone above and beyond in ways you weren’t expecting.
Also, a dedicated area on your website for recognition and achievements of both your workers and your company as a whole helps to inform your consumer-base of the hard work everyone puts in. It’s also a useful way for new hires to see what may be expected of them, or what they can also hope to achieve.
Provide Resources for Personal and Professional Development
In business, the aim is to employ people who you think have the potential to make a positive impact on your company. You then train them to make sure that vision becomes a reality. This not only adds to the skill sets your business operates with, but also increases an employee’s personal skill set which will help them, moving forward.
Upskilling employees not only makes the most of their current talents, but allows them to develop new ones. It means that your employees can perform to a higher standard, gives them the opportunity to do more, and allows them to visually chart their progress to see how far they have come.
Also, take the time to make sure your employees’ personal goals and core values are aligned with the company’s values. This means there will be no conflict of interests, and helps people to feel more connected to your business.
Source: In Great Company, by Louis Carter
Make Sure Employees Feel Valued and Respected
One of the most frustrating things in the workplace is being micromanaged in everything you do. As an employer, you need to learn how to step back and trust your employees to carry out your instructions. There has to be a level of autonomy and respect to create a positive work environment, or your staff will feel suffocated.
Instead of micromanaging, make use of clear communication. Use templates, a list of instructions, or even just a decent one-to-one chat to ensure your employees know what they’re doing so you don’t have to look over their shoulder every minute. Not only will this free up your time, it also allows team members to state directly if they don’t understand or may have difficulty. Knowing in advance is always better.
Remember that respect works both ways. You need to earn it by proving yourself to be a good employer and a champion of a positive workplace mentality. Don’t be that one boss everyone groans about!
People want to feel heard. A good way to show you respect and value your employees is to take the time to listen to them. If they have problems, then make meaningful changes.
Sentiment analysis surveys are a useful tool if you want to get an accurate look at how valued your employees really feel. And when 79% of people who leave their jobs report it’s due to a lack of appreciation, these are things you really want to consider.
A Positive Workplace Emphasizes DEIB Practices
Your workplace should be a welcoming environment for anyone and everyone. We all want to feel connected to where we are and what we do. One of the best ways to help cultivate that feeling is through practicing DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging).
This isn’t just a shallow matter of fulfilling a diversity quota. This is about incorporating DEIB into the very core of your business and standing by these values no matter what.
We don’t get to decide what unconscious biases we are brought up with as children, but we can make an effort to recognize them as we grow. Having a diverse workforce brings new ideas to the table. People from all walks of life will all have different assets to contribute.
Furthermore, an inclusive, equitable workforce has been shown to reduce rates of employee turnover as it creates a more welcoming environment. This means employees are more likely to perform better as they feel supported in their work, and have the opportunity to explore new ideas. And, overall, that’s a lot better for business.
Team Members Must Be Allowed a Work/Life Balance That Reduces Burnout
It’s practically impossible to be on top form every single day. Even high-performing employees will struggle on certain days. “Nose to the grindstone” 24/7 simply isn’t sustainable.
Prioritize your employees’ well-being. Stress and burnout can cause both mental and physical health issues, so it’s important to be aware of the signs. Take time to research well-being initiatives, such as how to manage workload and stress levels.
But remember that it won’t be a one-size-fits-all operation. People work in different ways, and bring different assets to the table. What works well for someone might be entirely the wrong direction to take for someone else. Make sure you’re flexible in how you allow your employees to manage their stress levels.
Particularly in the wake of a global pandemic, some people may be on edge about certain aspects of work. Try to be as accommodating as possible in order to make people feel comfortable when returning to the workplace, as long as their requests are reasonable.
Make Sure Your Workplace Environment Is Comfortable and Accessible
The physical aspects of an environment are equally as important. Whilst it’s possible to turn even the most boring of office spaces into a positive environment with a good business culture, the extra creature comforts don’t hurt.
Natural light, community areas such as a coffee lounge or cafeteria, and indoor greenery are all extra details that can help to promote a positive work environment.
Here are some more specific items you could include to spruce up your workspace:
- Ergonomic chairs. 65% of people who work at a desk experience some sort of musculoskeletal issue, which can be caused by bad posture, extensive periods of sitting down, and also stress (which can cause tension across the body). To counteract this, try investing in some ergonomic, adjustable chairs that encourage better seating positions.
- Standing desks. Whilst the idea of standing at your work station for several hours may seem like hell on Earth, the health benefits are numerous. Studies have shown that standing to work for as little as one hour a day can reduce back and neck pain by 54%, improve energy and activity levels, burn more calories (thus lowering the risk of obesity), and lowers the risk of developing blood clots in your legs.
- Correctly adjusted monitors. The top of your monitor should be at eye-level, directly in front of you. Whilst laptops are very useful, computers come with the benefit of separate keyboards, meaning you decrease the risk of eye strain by having the freedom to sit further away from the screen. Small issues can add up in the long run, even innocuous issues that don’t seem important – how you hold your mouse, for example. Keep these things in mind!
Take time to map out your office space. Will people be cramped next to one another? Is there enough space to accommodate people with disabilities, such as those in wheelchairs who may require extra space? An added benefit of adjustable desks is that it makes it easier for people with mobility issues, as they can move the table height to a desired position.
Also consider how accessible your entrances and exits are. Do you have stairs that require either an accessible ramp or an elevator? Do you have the necessary toilet facilities to cater for everyone? Tap into your DEIB practices to fully assess all elements of your workplace. Make sure you’re facilitating a comfortable work environment for everyone.
It’s everyone’s responsibility to contribute to creating a positive work environment. A strong team who aligns their values with those of the company will build an amazing place to work, where people feel respected and listened to, able to share ideas freely and receive solid feedback on what they do.
Employee happiness is a very valuable thing. By developing a good work space you are allowing your employees to give it their all and improve not only your business, but also their own personal skill set.
Louis Carter is the founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, Most Loved Workplace, and Results-Based Culture. Author of In Great Company, Change Champions Field Guide, and Best Practices in Talent Management, as well as a series of Leadership Development books. He is a trusted strategic advisor and coach to CEOs, CHROs, and leaders of mid-sized to F500 companies – enabling change and steering employer brand development together with highly effective teams, leaders, and organizations as a whole.