Suzanne Lucas

How to Create a Positive Work Environment

Most people come to work to, well, work. Employees don’t necessarily expect their jobs to be fun 24/7. But that doesn’t mean your workforce needs to do business under a depressing cartoon rain cloud.

Here’s how to make working at your business a positive and productive experience, and why it’s worth doing so.

Why Creating a Positive Work Environment Is Important

Most employees spend more time at the office than they do with their friends and family. Having a positive experience at work is critical for their happiness. Happy employees are over 20 percent more productive than unhappy ones, and companies that are highly rated by their employees do better than the market average.

In other words, even if you aren’t as invested in your employees’ personal happiness, you do care about your business. And happy employees make a better business.

Sometimes, though, it’s easy to take the idea of happy employees and think, “Oh, I need to make it fun!” But that’s not necessarily the case. So what does a positive work environment look like?

The Importance of Quality of Work Life

We talk a lot about work-life balance, but we also need a quality work life. Employee engagement is a term that means employees are actively and happily working. They are motivated by their jobs, and as a result, they do much better work.

What makes employees engaged? Among other factors, a variety of organizational and managerial factors can boost engagement, including:

  • A company direction that is clearly set and communicated by senior leaders
  • Compensation based on performance and customer focus, as well as recognition for good work
  • A focus on career growth and development
  • Healthy employee-supervisor relationships
  • Access to the right tools
  • Decision-making authority

Note what’s not on that list: “Work that is fun and changes the world” or “free lunches” or “a bowling alley in the basement.” While those things can be great, it’s really about cultivating a positive culture in which employees are comfortable, confident and empowered to do their best work.

Other Attributes of a Positive Work Environment

No one factor is enough on its own to ensure engagement. The strategies your put in place to improve your employees’ work lives all come together in creating a positive work environment. When in doubt, consider what your employees need.

For instance, your employees want and need good health insurance. Nothing shows that you care about your staff’s well-being more than providing them the tools to stay in good health. Just as importantly, they need the flexibility to make use of their health benefits. If an employee can’t afford to go to the doctor or take a day off when they’re sick, the strongest corporate mission statement in the world won’t make up for it.

Whatever changes you decide to make, put effort into making them consistent throughout the business. If the CEO puts all the organizational drivers of a positive work environment in place but individual managers are coming up short, it will undo all your hard work. Your employees’ happiness is at stake — and where their mood goes, the company will follow.

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