You might have heard the term “work culture” being used if you’re a business owner or even if you’re an employee. In essence, the term refers to the kind of atmosphere and working practices that your company employs. It encompasses everything from the way managers treat their employees all the way through to how employees treat each other and what is expected of each employee of the company.
With that in mind, the need to build a positive work culture should be obvious, but how can you do that? As a business owner, there are lots of things that you can do (and that you should be doing) to foster a positive work culture. It’s important for far more reasons than simply keeping your employees happy, which is still vital; retention will increase and positive reviews will flood in if you have a strong work culture. Here’s how to build a positive business environment and keep everyone at your business happy.
Treat everyone with respect
First and foremost, you should make sure that you are treating everyone in your organisation with respect. No matter what their position may be, every single human being in the world is deserving of your respect, and so if you find that certain employees are being disrespected or disregarded because they don’t have as “lofty” a position as others, that’s a problem you’re going to want to fix posthaste. The more employees feel respected in your company, the more they’re going to reciprocate that respect. After all, why should you command respect if they don’t?
Listen to diverse voices
As part of your recognition initiatives, you should make sure that your workplace is diverse and that you are listening to those employees’ voices and opinions. It can become too easy to get bogged down in a single approach, but by listening to a wide range of perspectives and suggestions, you’ll arrive at a more holistic and inclusive way to run your business, which will in turn improve your operation and grow it significantly. Make sure that you aren’t falling prey to listening to the same voices over and over again!
Allow employees to express themselves
To a certain extent, it’s a good idea to foster a culture of free expression within your workplace. If you’re clamping down on every single negative comment about the management or about the workload, then you’re going to make your workers feel oppressed and miserable, which will just make them want to seek opportunities elsewhere.
Of course, that freedom of expression absolutely does not extend to racist, misogynistic, transphobic, or offensive opinions in any way, shape, or form. Employees should feel safe to be who they are while they’re at work, and if they don’t, that’s also a problem you need to address. Encourage freedom of expression, but curb offensive or derogatory talk towards other employees wherever you find it.
Don’t force employees to go above and beyond
Sometimes, your company will have projects that are extremely important and that will affect the future of your entire organisation. Even when that’s the case, you should respect the desire of employees to leave work on time and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
It is not the responsibility of your employees to work beyond the point that they’re expected to work, nor is it obligatory for them to “love” the company enough to stay at work beyond their appointed hours. If they do choose to do that, make sure they’re compensated satisfactorily, and talk to them to ensure they don’t feel pressured into working beyond their requirements.
No matter what else you do to foster a positive working environment, one of the most important things you can do is to keep talking to your employees. Keep channels of communication open and make sure that employees know they can always talk to you. Even if you’re the CEO and you’ve got a lot on your plate, your employees are the cornerstone of your organisation, so not talking to them can have serious effects; they may feel that they simply don’t know and can’t approach the person who is leading them, for example, which can be demoralising.
When your employees perform well, it’s important to recognise what they’ve done. Don’t simply nod it away and expect them to put in the same level of effort next time. When employees go above and beyond to deliver something above what was expected of them, you need to reward them, and a simple nod and a “well done” won’t suffice.
Material incentive is important; employees are people just like you, after all, and although the approval of upper management is very important, some other way to recognise achievement – one in which employees feel properly compensated – should be considered.
Take it seriously
If your employees can see that you’re passionate about your work, then that’s more likely to make them passionate as well. Always make it clear that you really believe in the company and want to see it succeed, and you’ll hopefully see that attitude reflected in your employees.
If you let on that the business is struggling, even during the hard times, your employees will pick up on that and will begin to try less hard. As the head of the business, it’s up to you to project an air of confidence and responsibility; this will lead to a more positive working culture overall.