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Creating a Positive Work Environment

Thursday February 2, 2023

We hear a lot these days about toxic work environments and the characteristics attributed to these unpleasant workplaces. However, while we know they exist, we don’t often discuss what makes a truly positive work environment. Positive work environments are those that foster trust, collaboration, respect, psychological safety, and clear communication. They are places where employees can be themselves, can share ideas, and grow.

Positive work environments promote a growth mindset where mistakes and failure are both accepted and encouraged because, without it, great ideas are rarely realized. Toxic behavior is not tolerated and positive contributions are celebrated. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? Keep reading for 7 easily implemented approaches for creating a positive work environment.

Invest in onboarding and training.

An employee’s first few weeks at a company can determine their fate. It sounds dramatic, but it’s true! According to SHRM, nearly one-third of all new hires quit their jobs within the first six months – a staggering number and particularly true of Millennials. Investing time and resources into new hire onboarding not only sets your employees up for success, but it ensures they understand you care about their experience. Failure to properly train and onboard employees can prevent an employee from understanding how to do their job, promote disengagement, and foster feelings of distrust. At a minimum, companies who invest in onboarding ensure a new team member’s manager is involved, share information about the company and the person’s role in it, and identify all available resources at the new hire’s disposal.

Ensure employees have the resources they need.

The obligation is on the employer to ensure an employee has the tools, resources, and technology to effectively do their job. Making sure proper investments are made in technology will both benefit the employee as well as directly impact an organization’s productivity. This can mean anything from ensuring all employees have the proper IT equipment (think: laptops, monitors, headsets, etc.) to comfortably perform their jobs, or ensuring employees have the right software, programs, and systems installed. Furthermore, ensuring employees know where to go to access information and to request help is critical to one’s ability to function and produce. 

Conduct regular check-ins.

Meeting regularly with a manager is critical not only at the onset of employment but remains important throughout one’s career. Regular check-ins promote knowledge-sharing, transparency, and connection. However, don’t fall into the trap of “unnecessary check-ins”. Ensure scheduled time has a purpose and an agenda, and that the employees know their role in the meeting. Many companies will also invest in more regular “pulse-checks” through the usage of engagement surveys to ensure they understand at all times where employees stand, and how they can best serve their workforce.

Encourage collaboration and communication.

Collaboration and communication have always been cornerstones of positive work environments, and no more since the widespread acceptance of remote work. Employers have found themselves needing to get deliberate about creating opportunities to collaborate both on and offsite, while also actively developing channels for communication. Positive work environments leverage technology to foster opportunities for collaboration, be that through internal instant messaging tools and groups or regular team meetings. They also practice transparency and regular communication, especially in times of crisis. 

Develop a recognition program.

Recognition programs can be both formal and informal, and both can have a huge impact. Formally, companies can choose to engage in broad recognition programs, rewarding employee success, and achievement with recognition gifts, bonuses, and even time off. Many companies also choose to recognize employees who reach specific years of service – a meaningful retention and recognition tool. Informally, Managers can play an impactful role in taking time to send a note to an employee to thank them for a particular contribution. Sometimes, the simple act of acknowledging someone’s hard work with an e-mail or hand-written card can mean the most.

Offer development opportunities.

In addition to being recognized, employees in today’s workforce want to grow, learn and succeed. Investing in learning opportunities and providing clear career pathways for employees demonstrate an investment in your team’s future. Learning opportunities can be anything from a designated budget for courses, conferences, and degree programs. They can also be internally focused, like through the development of mentor programs and peer-to-peer connections. Positive workforces also clearly share career pathways and put supports in place for how employees can advance their careers in the organization.

Create opportunities for wellness and rest.

Work-life balance is a concept often discussed in the workplace, primarily because employees feel like they don’t have enough of it. Positive work environments value an employee’s out-of-office commitments, offering flexibility for personal obligations. Positive work environments also create wellness opportunities for employees. This might be through the development of a corporate wellness program, or perhaps something as simple as starting a book club or encouraging walking meetings.

Join the companies doing it right and implement these approaches to ensure your workplace is one of positivity, productivity, and growth!

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