Positive Work Environment - Employer Role
Last week I spoke about what employees can do to promote a positive environment at their workplace. This week I want to highlight the role the employer plays in providing and supporting a positive environment for everyone to be.
A positive workplace can mean the difference between success and failure for a business. Good relationships amongst employees can lead to improved teamwork and, in turn, to a more responsive service for customers.
Managers foster a positive working environment by managing their teams in a transparent and impartial manner, promoting a culture of inclusion, involvement and consultation, as well as recognising positive contributions.
Here’s 5 top ways that employers and managers can promote a positive working environment:
1. Flexibility (Work-Life Balance)
In the world of work today, employees often look for flexibility and a way to balance their lives at home and at work. Progressive organisations are recognising the mutual benefits of this work-life balance and are making it easier for employees to juggle both by implementing strategies to create a more flexible work environment. Working from home or from a different office location and flexible working hours are a good starting point for a work-life balance strategy.
Organisations need to move away from rewarding “workaholics” that are prepared to sacrifice their personal life for work. Working long hours and weekends is no longer the yard stick for a high performing employee. Businesses have a responsibility to show that this is not the correct culture, by rewarding those that maintain a good work-life balance (e.g. leaving work on time) and are still high performing.
There will always have to be some sort of balance between work and home life. Having a feeling of balance can improve job satisfaction amongst employees as they will feel that they’re not neglecting other areas of their lives that are (in most cases?) more important to them than work.
When people achieve their different needs and objectives in life, such as those of family, friends, personal growth etc. they will then feel more confident about themselves and in their work commitments. As well as that that, employees that are exposed to a broader range of experiences outside of work can use what they’ve learned and apply that to their day job.
In summary, a flexible work environment allows for a more content workforce and can promote creativity, new ideas and a different way of thinking.
2. Training / Education / Development
Progressive organisations understand that it's not just what employees currently know that helps shape the company’s future, it's what they will come to know and learn that's most critical. The degree to which the business is genuinely committed to the education, training and development of staff is a crucial factor in attracting and keeping quality, high performing employees. In a time when change is more widespread than ever before, it’s necessary for businesses to stay on top of the changes and train their staff accordingly.
A company with a focus on training, education and development has a defined roadmap for training their employees to maintain and improve the productivity of the business as a whole. These organisations provide opportunities for employees to avail or take part in some or all of the following:
- In-house training and development
- Conference attendance
- Team building exercises and activities
- Reimbursement for external/university courses
A company with regular training and education for all members of staff will serve to improve efficiency and instill positive attitudes among employees.
3. Recognition (Positive Reinforcement)
A major complaint from employees is that they don’t feel appreciated at work. As soon as someone tells us we did a good job or that we made a difference, we feel like we matter in a way that gives our role a sense of purpose. When people feel like they’re doing good work, they want to rise to the challenge even more. Employees are inspired when they receive sincere gratitude for their efforts from management.
Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool that should not be underestimated. It shows that the business cares about their employees, it boosts morale, and encourages people to try a bit harder.
By offering rewards and bonuses in conjunction with positive reinforcement, especially performance related rewards, organisations can foster healthy competition within the office. Acknowledging hard working, productive employees really makes them feel good when they are rewarded for their efforts. All these factors will combine to form a positive, healthy and competitive working environment for all.
4. Open Communication from Management
Good and open communication between a manager and his or her staff is critical to a positive working environment and positive team relationships. Employees need to understand what their manager wants them to achieve, and employees themselves also need to understand what their manager expects from them. There should be an equal amount of open two way communication between manager and employee. The key to good communication at the office is to be clear, concise and direct. If an issue presents itself, it’s important that management don’t avoid it and pretend it doesn’t exist. Addressing it at the early stages and making it clear why it’s an issue will lead to a quick resolution more often than not.
5. Give Employees a Voice
Each and every one of a company’s employees is with that company for a reason. Organisations need to encourage employees to voice their ideas. Even if the ideas need some work, it’s still crucial that everyone feels like they have their say. This shows each member of the team that they are valuable and his or her input is just as important as their colleagues.
Managers should set specific times during the day for employees to speak with them to discuss ideas or plans. Team members should always be encouraged, especially the quieter members, by asking them directly for input. This will help cement the fact that everyone’s thoughts and ideas are relevant.
That’s my top 5 ways that employers and managers can promote a positive working environment. There’s plenty more ideas for promoting positivity out there such as providing a quality physical working environment, additional perks/benefits, management leading by example, trusting and empowering employees etc.
Can you add more to the list?
A positive working environment has a significant role to play in ensuring high levels of productivity. A positive workplace promotes efficiency and allows employees to be satisfied with their roles and with their co-workers. The positive environment means conflict in the workplace is kept to a minimum and business as usual activities generally run smoothly. A win-win for all involved!
A healthy, efficient and positive working environment is a large part of an organisation’s culture and can play an important role in attracting and keeping the right kind of talent.
Yours in health,
P.S I love talking about wellness so feel free to drop me a line to discuss any of the above. Contact me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Low Down
Brian Crooke is a wellness consultant specialising in the design, improvement and auditing of wellness initiatives for Irish businesses. He is the founder of Office Worker Health, a platform dedicated to promoting health and wellbeing to the working population.
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