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Article from a Guest Expert

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The Importance of Creating a Positive Work Environment

You’ve gone out of your way to hire the best people. You’ve given them the best training, put in their hands the technology they need, and equipped them and your business in every way to succeed. And yet something’s amiss. Those talented people around the office aren’t thriving. They’re adrift, confused, frustrated, maybe even angry. What gives?

Maybe it has nothing to do with the people, the training, or the tools. Maybe it’s the environment they work in. As far as we’re concerned, it’s impossible to overestimate the importance of a positive work environment. Fail to create that for your employees, and you risk squandering the talents they bring to the table.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of strategies to help you get that work environment thriving.

1. Open communication. You hired your employees for a reason. You saw talent, intelligence, creativity, and you knew they were the right people for your business. But now that they work for you, how much freedom do they have to speak openly to you and your managers? Have you created a safe environment in which ideas can be exchanged and grievances aired without fear of censure? If not, you’ll need to find ways to reopen those necessary lines of communication.

Of course, that’s just one side of the communication problem that shows up in many businesses. The other half involves clarity and efficiency of communication from the top down. Do you and your managers communicate with employees with a clarity that leaves little ambiguity about tasks and responsibilities? Or is there a general sense of mystification around the office about what exactly everyone is supposed to be doing? Before chastising employees for what appears to be weak performance, look at management’s communication, and ensure they are staying up to date on the best strategies for effective communication. Consider reading up on leadership skills to give you some tips on how to improve your communication with employees.

2. Give employees some autonomy. As we’ve already said, you hired your employees because you saw in them talent and promise. If you train them well and communicate expectations clearly, you can then do your best to trust them. If you constantly check in with employees’ progress on tasks, if you hand-hold and hover over their shoulders as they try to complete their work, you’ll create an environment of self-consciousness and fear of taking risks. No one does their best work while under surveillance. So, give them the autonomy that will allow them to thrive.

3. Be flexible. Current technologies allow for great flexibility when it comes to working from home or working outside of the traditional 9-5 day. And when it comes to creating a positive work-life balance, employees often go through seasons in which, due to family or medical issues, they need that flexibility. The question, however, is this: has your business allowed for that flexibility? Your weakest employee might be next to useless during a typical work day. But give him some flexibility, and he might become the most valued member on your team.

4. Show employees they’re valued. An employee that knows she’s valued, that knows her work does not go unnoticed: this is someone who will put in that extra bit of devotion to her job. On the flipside, that employee who knows his work goes unnoticed, who knows his employers see him as little more than an easily replaceable cog in the larger business machine: he’ll experience a demoralization that eventually leads to lower job satisfaction, lower energy, and weaker performance.

Offering competitive salaries and benefits packages are obviously the first and most important steps in showing that you value your employees. But there’s plenty more you can do. For instance, offer praise when praise is due. It takes a matter of moments but the afterglow will stay with the employee for days. You should also take pains to know your employees by first name, to learn a few things about them, to show that they are human beings in your eyes, not just worker bees. One great way to accomplish this is to give your employees office-related personalized gifts, like coffee mugs, to show them your appreciation for the hard work they do.

There’s more we could say, of course. But for us, the above details the four most important steps you can take to ensure a positive work environment. Put them into practice, and we know you’ll see a difference around the workplace.

 

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About the Expert

Ian Nicholson