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Strategies for Promoting Positive Work Environments for Employees

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Creating better work environments for employees is tremendously beneficial—not just to your employees, but to your organization as a whole.

When employees enjoy and appreciate their work environment, your company’s productivity, employee tenure, and engagement metrics are increased across the board. At the same time, attrition, healthcare premiums, absenteeism, and even workers’ compensation costs are lowered.

3 Key takeaways you should know
  • When employees feel valued, engaged, and supported, productivity increases, turnover decreases, and overall performance improves.
  • Open communication channels and fostering social connections among employees are highlighted as crucial elements in creating a healthy work environment.
  • Conducting employee surveys, implementing recognition programs, and leading by example are actionable steps that empower companies to proactively address challenges and cultivate a culture of positivity and growth.
employees chatting in cafe

Why Your Employees’ Perception of your Work Environment Matters

The benefits of a healthy work environment might sound too good to be true, but they’re backed by evidence. According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), “health care expenditures at high-pressure companies are nearly 50% greater than at other organizations,” and “workplace stress leads to an increase of almost 50% in voluntary turnover.”

Statistics published in HBR also back claims that engaged and happy employees miss work less, make fewer mistakes, and drive profitability for their employers at significant rates. With such strong evidence in favor of creating better work environments for employees, many companies just have one question: “How do we get started?”

Creating better work environments for employees doesn’t have to be rocket science. Rather, it can, and usually does, start with a genuine interest in what your employees think about your current workplace environment. From here, you can discover what your culture is missing, and how it can be corrected.

How to Create a Positive Work Environment

1. Connect employees across roles, departments, and teams

Employees who have strong social connections at work are happier, more engaged, and healthier. According to research from the University of California Irvine, “the probability of dying early is 20% higher for obese people, 30% higher for excessive drinkers, 50% higher for smokers, but a whopping 70% higher for people with poor social relationships.”

There are many ways to foster connections between your employees. Almost all of them begin with encouraging employees to socialize outside of their “bubbles” at work, interacting when they can with employees in other roles, departments, and teams. Consider the following ideas for boosting socialization and (perhaps) helping your employees find friends in the workplace:

  • Organize company happy hours or other off-site events. While you can’t make attendance mandatory, you can incentivize it. Happy hours may be subsidized (in whole or in part) by the employer—but at the very least, they should be right after work and at a location that is nearby or convenient to your workplace.
  • Implement employee affinity groups. These can be based on your employees’ unique interests, but a few common examples are company softball teams, running clubs, book clubs, or volunteer groups.
  • Host social breaks during the work day. Whether you choose to organize a company potluck, a “coffee chat” or even a company-wide instant messaging channel, encourage employees to take occasional breaks where they are free to disconnect from work and connect with their coworkers instead.

2. Encourage open and honest feedback from all employees—both negative and positive

Most organizations claim to value employee input, but few have proper methods in place to gather it. To be as effective as possible, the collection of feedback from your team members should be done in a way that encourages honest and open communication.

For many organizations, this can be most easily accomplished by opening up an anonymous 24-hour feedback channel. If you don’t have a method for setting up true anonymous reporting, an employee survey link is a great place to start.

3. Hold employees accountable for violations of your code of conduct

A well-written and compliant code of conduct is one of the best actions you can take to protect your employees. Workplace harassment, discrimination, and bullying are a huge drain on the work environment and can tear down the culture your team has worked hard to build.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), almost one in five (19 percent) of employees in a 2023 survey “stated that their workplace is very or somewhat toxic.” The survey also indicated that in 2023, 22 percent of workers “experienced harassment at work” over the course of the preceding 12 months.

From a well-being standpoint, these figures are devastating. The APA explains that “fundamental to the surgeon general’s framework is the principle that employers should protect workers from toxic workplaces.”

To reduce instances of harassment, discrimination, and bullying, make your stance clear in the form of strong policies within your employee code of conduct. Then, enforce violations of your code of conduct in a consistent way. Whether a violator is an entry-level worker or a C-suite executive, violations should be met with discipline and a plan to correct the issue at the root cause. For repeated or serious offenders, termination should be on the table in order to protect the sanctity of your working environment.

4. Take a pulse on the perception of your current workplace environment

Do you know how your employees feel about your current workplace culture? Sometimes, the best ideas for creating better work environments for employees are ideas that come from the employees themselves.

Consider implementing an employee engagement survey that captures your team’s current attitude toward their work environment. Open-ended questions can be incorporated to gather feedback on aspects that need improvement and thoughts on how to execute enhancements.

5. Provide employee recognition that goes beyond the obvious profitability wins

You may already have a successful employee recognition system in place, but consider what you’re rewarding and recognizing. Are you spotlighting employees for bringing in new clients or achieving hard metrics but ignoring the efforts of employees who make things run smoothly behind the scenes?

Encourage your employees to advance your company values; then, reward them when they do it. While it’s not the only strategy you should try, you can incentivize your way to creating better work environments for employees within your organization. Providing recognition and rewards to team members who exemplify your corporate values and make your organization special from the inside out is an excellent place to start.

For recognition and reward systems to be effective, it’s important to reward employees in the ways they want to be rewarded. Utilize an employee survey to determine what attractive incentives look like to your team members. You may consider offering the following:

  • Increased educational spending allowance
  • Public (company-wide) shout outs
  • Increased flexibility (i.e., work-from-home days or flexible hours)
  • Meals and snacks
  • Extra PTO
  • Experiences (i.e., tickets to local sporting events or weekend vacations)
  • Increased (paid) volunteering days
  • Company-branded merchandise

Leverage employee feedback in your HR strategy

Get detailed insights and AI-powered recommendations with eNPS surveys and employee surveys sent through Peoplelytics.

6. When it comes to positivity, lead by example

Leaders set the tone for the working environment within the organization. Leaders who exemplify positivity, resilience, and optimism inspire their teams to adopt similar attitudes. This doesn’t mean leaders shouldn’t acknowledge challenges or negatives; rather, it involves tackling those challenges with a constructive, solution-oriented mindset.

Leaders can lead by example as they establish a culture of positivity by implementing the following small habits:

  • Express gratitude for employees’ efforts
  • Celebrate team and individual achievements
  • Even if something needs to be re-done, find ways to point out what’s been done correctly
  • Give constructive feedback in a positive way, focusing on growth and learning instead of discipline or correction

Measuring Current Work Environments

Employee surveys serve as invaluable tools for assessing the current state of a company’s work culture and implementing measures to enhance inclusivity and positivity.

The first step is figuring out what type of survey you want to send to your employees. Peoplelytics offers over 50 prebuilt surveys based on your organization’s needs. Getting started with employee surveys can create a positive impact on your employees and foster an inclusive environment.

Providing anonymity in surveys encourages honest feedback from employees. Assure them that their responses will be kept confidential, fostering trust and openness in the survey process. Another great thing Peoplelytics can assist with is providing anonymity for all surveys.

Once the survey is sent and responses are collected, analyze the data to identify key trends, strengths, and areas for improvement in the work culture. Look for patterns in employee feedback and prioritize issues that require immediate attention.

Use the survey results to pinpoint specific areas where the work culture can be made more inclusive and positive and develop action plans based on survey findings. This may include enhancing communication channels, providing diversity training, or implementing recognition programs. With Peoplelytics, you don’t have to worry or think about what changes need to be made, our AI-generated feedback can assist with recommendations based on employee feedback.

Continuously monitor progress and track changes in employee perceptions over time through regular follow-up surveys. Evaluate the effectiveness of implemented initiatives and make adjustments as needed to sustain a positive work environment.

Using Employee Surveys to Enhance a Positive Culture

The use of employee surveys is powerful in enhancing a positive workplace environment. By providing employees with a voice, you already make them feel included in your process whether their ideas were used or not.

Gives a voice to your employees

Employee surveys provide a platform for all employees to share their thoughts, experiences, and concerns, regardless of their role or background. This fosters a sense of belonging and inclusion among team members.

Identifies Blind Spots

Surveys help uncover blind spots or areas of unconscious bias within the organization’s culture that may be hindering inclusivity. By shining a light on these issues, organizations can take proactive steps to address them and create a more equitable workplace.

Promotes Transparency

Transparent communication surrounding survey results and action plans demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity and accountability. Employees feel valued when their feedback is taken seriously, leading to increased trust and morale.

Increases Employee Engagement

Engaging employees in the survey process empowers them to play an active role in shaping the company’s culture. When employees see that their opinions matter and that positive changes result from their feedback, they become more invested in creating a supportive and inclusive work environment.

Employee surveys serve as powerful tools for measuring and improving work culture by providing valuable insights, fostering transparency, and empowering employees to drive positive change.

Let’s Recap

Fostering a positive work environment is not just nice to have; it’s essential for the success and well-being of your organization and its employees. From encouraging social connections to implementing robust feedback systems and holding individuals accountable, there are concrete steps you can take to create a workplace where everyone thrives.

To truly understand the pulse of your organization and initiate meaningful change, you need to take actionable steps. By gathering insights directly from your employees, you can identify areas for improvement and tailor strategies to enhance your work environment.

Take the first step towards building a happier, more productive workplace today with Peoplelytics. Try out our free demo to start the journey towards a better work environment for all.

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