Amid the current trend called “The Big Resignation,” there are contributions employers and employees can make to create a positive and productive work environment in which everyone is engaged.
For employers, it’s important to assess your company’s culture and determine whether it will help you retain current employees and attract new ones. Those who do not provide employees with a positive workplace, competitive salary and good working conditions are those who are struggling the most right now.
The foundation of all successful cultures is trust. Managers need to hire and train the best people possible and trust them to do their jobs. This doesn’t mean a lack of training, supervision or accountability, but the micromanagement of most employees demotivates them. Trusted employees are more likely to ask questions, take ownership of mistakes, and come up with new ideas.
We have a weekly process of what I call Watering the Bamboo, developed by author Greg Bell. We talk about what we did well as a company that week and the individual achievements that were made. It helps employees focus on the many good things that are happening, as a natural tendency is to focus on the negatives. Then we talk about the mistakes someone may have made that week. It is not a question of pointing fingers, but of transforming them in a constructive way into learning or training opportunities.
Trust helps foster an environment for more effective collaboration and communication. It is most effective when managers allow employees to give their opinions and ideas and listen to them. Although they may not always agree, the discussion is an important process. Employees don’t usually leave companies, they leave managers who fail to engage effectively with their teams.
It’s also important that managers and employees truly understand all team members and recognize that not all employees are the same – and we don’t want them to be. Each individual brings their own behavioral traits to the workplace which must be understood and balanced. For example, trying to force an employee who is by nature methodical, with a great need for precision, to make quick decisions is unlikely to be successful. Training all employees to understand their coworkers can be a very effective way to reduce conflict and increase collaboration. We use a workplace-appropriate DiSC assessment to facilitate this process.
A word that employees often say now is “empathy”. They want their businesses to understand the family, financial and other pressures they may be under and be willing to work with them as needed to better manage or alleviate them. For example, an employee who has to take care of a sick family member may request a different work schedule for a given period, or a temporary reduction in hours.
For employees, there are ways to help create a positive culture, helping to reduce the stress and tensions that create a negative environment. In some companies, it’s as easy as showing up for work on time, following workplace policies, and working productively and efficiently.
Many companies encourage their employees to come up with ideas, drive innovation, and improve profitability. However, this does not mean that the company or colleagues will always agree, so responding to this disagreement with respect and positive discussions will help create a more open environment.
A very destructive aspect of workplaces is ‘office politics’, so a great way to help create a good culture is not to engage in gossip or complaining about co-workers. “Emotionally intelligent” employees have developed the skills to directly handle problems and solve them more effectively, in a way that creates their own value for the company.
The victory for employers and employees of a positive and successful culture is increased productivity and profitability, greater customer or client satisfaction, and decreased absenteeism and turnover (according to Gallup research study ). These are all good reasons for everyone to work together to make it happen!
Sandra Dickerson owns Your People Professionals and HR Your Way, providing business owners across California with outsourcing and HR consulting services for over 30 years. She is a member of the California Lawyers and American Bar Associations and SHRM, sits on the Board of Directors of the Santa Maria Valley Chamber, and is an Everything DiSC Certified Trainer.