Posted by Andrea Ashfield on 7 October 2019
Creating and maintaining a positive work environment should remain high on every business owner's agenda. Today, providing nine-to-five roles with a competitive salary will no longer cut it. Employees are, rightly so, weighing up other benefits and factors that contribute towards their satisfaction and wellbeing, particularly when it comes to choosing their next role.
As an employer, it's in your best interest to create an attractive work environment. Staff are the driving force behind every business and will be more motivated by a positive workplace and development opportunities than a large pay cheque or other financial reward.
Happy, satisfied staff are efficient, productive and more likely to stay with your business. Having a secure workforce and high levels of retention creates stability for the company, resulting in a robust platform on which to grow. Don't forget, if employees are contented, they will spread the word, which could prove to be a successful recruitment strategy. There are many things we can do as business leaders to ensure that we promote a positive environment, and this doesn't have to be in the form of expensive perks. Early finishes, longer lunch breaks, overtime and time back are simple measures that may be greatly appreciated by your workforce.
Other examples include a remote working policy and flexible hours, because some people just aren't suited to a traditional nine-to-five office environment. It may be that staff are more productive at home, that they want to start and finish later, work outside of normal hours or find that remote working fits in better with childcare arrangements.
Whatever the situation, incorporating flexible working is easier than you think, and can allow you to tap into another pool of talented people you may not have looked at before.
Remote employees can still feel part of the action with regular meetings, emails and phone calls, while team-building exercises can be used to encourage bonding. Social activities outside work can really help to make staff interact, as well as showing strengths and weaknesses and providing a comfortable atmosphere in which people feel free to collaborate and share their ideas.
While cooperation is key, micro-management is a pet hate of employees. It's inevitable to check in with staff and you should absolutely let people know that help is there if needed. However, there's a fine line between showing support and being overbearing. By operating an open-door policy, you're putting the onus on staff to come to you with any problems and demonstrating that no issue is too small. Trusting employees and letting them get on with their jobs promotes a more positive environment, which is in everyone's best interests.
In order to operate a constructive workplace, the physical set-up of your office is just as important. If you have an open-door policy, for instance, quite literally leave your door open. Don't create that barrier between you and your employees unless there's a reason to do so. Have an open-plan office, where departments are in clear view and people can talk to one another freely.
Finally, make sure you let people know that they are doing a good job and avoid public shaming. No one wants to work in a toxic environment where every mistake is well-known. The result could be a serious lack of confidence that may stop people coming to you with issues in future.
Sara Davies MBE is founder of Crafter's Companion.