Everyone should wake up each morning wanting to go to work instead of trying to think of excuses to not go in. Unfortunately, too many people do not work in a truly positive work environment. Not only is a positive work environment paramount to the productivity of a company, but it is also important to us on a personal level. Both our physical and mental health can be improved by working in a positive work environment.
Communication is a fundamental factor in fostering a positive environment, and it starts with transparent communication, letting everyone in the company know how the company is doing, for better or worse! If business is good, that knowledge can be a great motivator to keep up the great things that are happening. If things are not going so well, employees will appreciate the honesty and work together to come out on the other side. When creating a positive work environment as a leader, try to keep the following in mind:
Honest and direct communication
Describe how everyone's daily tasks feed into the team and overall organization and explain how that helps result in accomplishing team goals.
Be clear, consistent, and concise, including only important information, and use precise language (especially if anyone is not using their first language).
Express your feelings in an open but non-threatening way, modeling the behavior you'd like to see. Ensure you are approachable, keeping in mind your speaking style and body language.
Create opportunities for discussion about the organization’s philosophy, mission, and values.
Respect and trust
Show employees that they are valued by encouraging honest feedback, being open to other viewpoints, and being willing to compromise.
Help employees reach their goals by pointing out what they are doing well and challenging them to improve in areas where they have opportunities to develop. Make sure not to overburden employees with too many things they are not good at, and let employees use their strengths most of the time.
Don’t micromanage - Allow employees to do what you hired them to do.
Be culturally sensitive and don't make assumptions that your experiences are the default.
Listen carefully to what your employees are saying and take an honest interest. Spend time trying to understand your employees and ask questions to clarify their ideas and emotions.
Know what motivates your team
Many think that money, fear, and pain are the most effective motivators for success, but team research proves otherwise. Seven common triggers for motivation are:
Acceptance - Having ideas listened to.
Power - Authority to make decisions.
Recognition - From outside of the team and organization.
Security - In the fact that they can do the task (not to be confused with job security).
Sense of accomplishment - From supervisors and colleagues.
Sense of belonging - Not just having ideas listened to but seriously considered and even implemented.
Structure - Clarity on where they fit in.
Show your gratitude
When employees are working hard and getting things done, a little gesture of gratitude can go a long way. A gift card or lunch can go a long way to make someone feel appreciated and are not that expensive.
Do non-work things with your team. A morning of go-cart racing, providing a pizza lunch, and having a monthly birthday cake for employees are only a few of the team-building activities you can do. Try to do this monthly or quarterly. Once a year won’t have the same effect.
Try to work with the employee’s schedule whenever possible. If someone needs to be doing something else for the morning, and it doesn’t affect their deadlines, just go with it, especially if they have a history of excellent work and always making deadlines.
Personal space, quality lighting, furniture, and even the color of the walls or cubicle can make a difference in an employee’s outlook. If possible, giving the employee input into what their workspace looks like (even if it’s to pick out items from a list of acceptable furnishings, colors, etc.) can go a long way to creating a positive physical workspace and happy employee.
Everyone has a responsibility to create and maintain a positive work environment. Even if it's not necessarily a company value, any leader can create and foster a positive work environment for those within their sphere of influence.