Looking to boost productivity? Turn your attention to your work environment. Is it as positive as it can — and should — be? Or is there room for improvement? Everything you do to increase the positivity of your work environment is a step toward improved productivity. After all, people who work for companies with positive cultures are more likely to be both engaged and productive.
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Are you ready to up your game when it comes to building a better work environment? We’re highlighting five key characteristics of positive and productive workplaces, which you can apply to help improve the environment in your organization.
1. Actively Solicit Employee Feedback
If an issue arises in the workplace, do your employees feel confident that they can bring it to their supervisor or another member of the leadership team? Employee feedback is certainly important, and it can be incredibly valuable to the company. But if managers react defensively, become upset, or act in an intimidating way when receiving feedback, employees may never feel comfortable offering constructive criticism.
That’s why it’s so important to proactively let employees know their input is welcomed and valued. Encourage them to share their concerns and suggestions with management. It’s also key for managers to react in a positive and encouraging way when employees do so. Toward this end, it can be really beneficial for managers to set up regular one-on-one meetings with each employee, along with providing other feedback mechanisms like a suggestion box or an anonymous hotline.
2. Communicate Openly and Transparently
Trust is the most basic building block of a positive workplace culture. When employees think their managers or overall company leadership are withholding key information or being less than truthful, they may lose trust in the company. When you’re looking to build a positive and productive work environment, there is no substitute for honest, transparent, and open communication.
When members of leadership are less than truthful, or are hiding information that should be shared with employees, it’s often not long before employees figure out what’s going on. The longer deception seems to be taking place, the greater the risk of damaging the work environment, and the more long lasting the negative impact on productivity. Whenever possible, rather than hiding the truth, own the current reality — whatever it may be — and let employees know how the company plans to move forward.
3. Prioritize Work/Life Balance
If you want your work environment to be positive and productive, it’s important to prioritize work-life balance for all of your employees. This starts with having reasonable expectations that allow employees time to be, well, human beings. Make sure managers aren’t encouraging their teams to work excessively long hours that take time from their home life.
It’s important to realize that working long hours doesn’t always result in getting more work done. In fact, according to a study conducted by an economics professor at Stanford University, working too many hours actually decreases productivity. Long hours just make people tired and less efficient, and leads to stressed out, disengaged employees on the path to burnout.
Your employees will be healthier and more productive if they work a reasonable amount of hours per week, and have time for friends, family, exercise, relaxation, and pursuing their hobbies or other interests.
4. Provide Training Opportunities
Want your employees to view their work environment as a positive one? Provide them with convenient, company-funded opportunities to develop new skills and deepen the ones they already have. This can help them stay ahead of rapidly evolving technology related to their jobs or long-term career goals. In order for the training to be meaningful, managers should ideally work closely with each employee. The idea is to create an individualized development plan for each employee that’s specific to their needs and goals.
Not only does providing training to your employees help build a positive work environment, but it also contributes directly to their productivity. After all, development opportunities are a demonstrated path to a highly skilled workforce. Providing training opportunities that can further their career goals is one way to let your employees know you value them while also contributing positively to the company’s objectives.
5. Encourage Employee Creativity
People want to work for companies that value their unique contributions, including ideas for ways to improve things. It’s amazing how innovative employees can be if leadership is open to their contributions. It can be discouraging for employees whose creative suggestions and fresh ideas are often met with resistance from management.
Resistance can not only stifle employee creativity, but it can also lead to a negative work environment. Think about it like this: when the answer is always “no,” what would lead you to expect the culture would be anything other than negative? The best employees won’t thrive in environments where their creativity isn’t valued, and chances are they also won’t stay. They’ll take their creative ideas elsewhere — maybe even to your biggest competitors.
Don’t forget that your employees are immersed in their jobs every day. They’re uniquely positioned to offer valuable insights and suggestions, so it’s important to listen and encourage their new ideas. Rather than stifle their creativity, seek to make the most of it by training the team in the art of creative problem-solving so they have even more tools at their disposal.
Where Will You Begin?
Now that you know some key characteristics of a positive work environment, it’s time to decide where to begin. Creativity, employee training, a healthy work/life balance, open communication, and actively soliciting employee feedback are all important. Start with the area that’s likely to have the biggest impact on your work environment, then expand your focus as you start to see positive results.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.