As an employer, you have many responsibilities. While your first priority might be the profitability of your business, it isn’t the only thing that you should be thinking about.
For example, how is your work culture?
Workplace culture is one of the key things that can make or break a business. Good workplace culture can attract new talent and bad workplace culture can give your business a terrible reputation.
Do you know how to improve workplace culture so you can create the best experience for yourself and your employees?
We’re here to offer some advice. Keep reading to learn all about how to improve a work environment so everyone can reap the benefits.
One of the best things that you can do as an employer to improve the work culture at your business is to encourage communication amongst your employees (and between your employees and yourself).
Great communication helps your employees bond. It also fosters innovation, a community of workers who help each other, and a comfortable environment where employers feel comfortable going to each other (or you) for advice or help on their projects.
There are several ways that you can encourage communication between your employees.
First, consider implementing a text chat system. This is beneficial for both in-office and remote work. A text chat system allows employees to communicate all day without breaking up their work activities.
If you’re an in-office or hybrid business, you can also utilize flexible seating. While it’s tempting to place each employee in their own designated cubby, you may be stifling their creativity and enthusiasm.
With a flexible seating arrangement, employees are able to work together on projects. This allows for more creative results and it keeps employees feeling fulfilled because their social needs are met.
Do Team-Building Activities
When we say “team-building activities” it can result in a collective “cringe” response, but it doesn’t have to. Sure, school-style icebreakers are part of the game, but there are plenty of other activities that you can do to encourage teamwork.
Team-building activities help your employees work together. They feel happier because they know that they’re part of a supportive unit, and they get to have fun.
There are several great team-building activities that we’ve seen successful businesses use. You don’t have to use all of them, but try a few to see how they work for you.
- Escape rooms (real or virtual)
- Trivia nights
- Group outings
- Virtual games
- Group fitness classes
- Potluck days
- Fun challenges
There are many more options as well. Some of these things might seem infantile, but they’re fun. Adults never stop wanting to have fun, and having fun can help people bond.
Use Praise and Rewards
Employers often resort to punishment in the workplace to “correct” bad behavior, but do you think this is helpful?
When you punish employees for not meeting goals or struggling, you’re encouraging them to go elsewhere. It’s demoralizing to be penalized, especially if it’s not the employees’ fault.
Instead of punishing problematic behavior or results, why not praise or reward good results? When you’re trying to figure out how to create the best work environment, it starts with your own behavior.
Start praising or rewarding good things, no matter how small. Has someone met their goals consistently? Did someone close a great deal or shown great innovation?
These things might seem insignificant, but when you offer praise to these employees, it encourages them to continue working because it shows you that you value them.
Offer Great Benefits
One of the benefits of a good workplace culture is that you attract good talent and keep the talented employees that you already have. After all, people who feel valued are more likely to stick around.
Take a page from the playbook of Workiva. They invest in their employees with great benefits like insurance plans, flexible hours, parental leave, and vacation time.
When you do this, you’ll have people clambering to work for you because they see that you’re investing in your employees’ happiness. Benefits are a large expense, but in the long run, it will save you money by minimizing the time and effort that you have to spend hiring new people when your current employees don’t feel valued.
Invest in Employee Health and Wellness
Your employees deserve to stay happy and healthy, and as an employer, you can help with that venture.
As we mentioned in the section about benefits, offering health insurance is a great way to show employees that you value their health. It’s not the only way, though.
You can start doing group fitness activities or offering a health and wellness stipend for gym memberships and activewear. You can make sure that you have healthy foods in the break room, or, if you’re remote, offer produce boxes.
Healthy employees take fewer sick days and they have overall better morale.
Encourage a Great Work/Life Balance
Speaking of investing in your employees, you should pay attention to the work/life balance that your workplace allows for.
More and more people are prioritizing a work/life balance when they’re applying for new positions. They recognize that life shouldn’t be all about work. They have families, hobbies, responsibilities, and lives.
There are a few ways that you can do this.
Don’t overwork your employees. Remember that they exist outside of the workplace, so long hours and low pay aren’t sustainable for them.
Offer ample paid leave and optional unpaid leave. Employees may have medical emergencies, planned outings, or other responsibilities. They shouldn’t have to choose between their work and their health or family members.
When employees are able to enjoy a good work/life balance, they’re less likely to experience burnout. Employee burnout will result in health issues and eventually less employee retention.
Consider a Hybrid Workplace
This is a tough one for many employers, but if you’re able to make it work, why not try a hybrid workplace on for size?
More and more employers have had to go remote over the past year due to COVID restrictions. While people are returning to the office, some are unwilling to commit to a full week of office work.
A hybrid workplace helps with the work/life balance, but it also may encourage better productivity. Some employees work better in coffee shops or public workspaces than they do in the office because these places inspire more creativity.
A hybrid workplace also allows employees to take less time off for childcare purposes or poor weather and it allows employees with mild illnesses (like colds) that they’re happy to work through to avoid infecting others.
Take Suggestions and Criticism
A crucial part of fostering a good work environment is being able to take criticism. As an employer, you may think that you always have the best ideas, but is this always true?
In reality, your employees may have suggestions that you’ve never thought of. They’re the ones who are experiencing the workplace culture, so why not listen to them?
If you have open communication, let your employees know that you have an open-door policy. This means that they can come to you any time, without the risk of punishment, to tell you their concerns and qualms.
If you’re worried that employees won’t feel comfortable with this, send out anonymous surveys (with an area for comments). This lets employees voice their opinions and suggestions in a way that makes them feel safer.
Be a Part of The Team
One of the best things that you can do as a good employer is to show your employees that you aren’t trying to be “above” them. You’re a leader, not a boss.
Don’t forget where you came from. At one point, you were also an employee who was striving to be better. You have had at least one employer who made you feel tired, undervalued and burnt out.
Instead of just delegating, complete your own tasks. Your employees should supplement and complement your abilities, not replace them.
When your employees see that you’re also putting in the effort, they’ll be more motivated to work alongside you.
How to Improve Workplace Culture: Difficult, But Worth It
Learning how to improve workplace culture is crucial as an employer. It’s not an unnecessary effort or expense. Rather, it improves your employee retention, your ability to hire better talent, and your overall reputation.
Whether you’re offering great benefits, keeping your employees healthy, encouraging better teamwork, or anything else on this list, you’ll be fostering a better work environment for everyone.
Remember, your employees are keeping your business afloat. Don’t neglect them.
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