Conditions at work play a big part in helping to make life feel better, so here are three tips to ensure that you successfully make a happier workplace:
1. Assess your communications
As the year draws to a close, have a think about ways in which you might drive a more inclusive and informative internal communications policy from January. There are dozens of ways to improve and overhaul comms strategies – both between B2B clients and within a single office environment – from upholding a very visible ‘open door’ approach policy to ensuring there’s a very clearly defined process for tackling disagreements. One perennial hot tip is resolving to embrace clarity above all else: as business communications expert Karen Friedman famously put it in her bestselling guide Shut Up And Say Something, confusing vagueness is all too common in the workplace environment, and “it is absolutely critical to be as direct, to the point and concise as possible”.
Ultimately, a better and clearer communications approach will help staff feel properly involved and invested in a company’s core purpose, which is hugely important to the successful running of any business enterprise. Inclusion is key here: don’t just assume that your employees, no matter how good at their jobs they are, necessarily fully understand both the shorter and longer-term goals driving the company forward the way you do.
Instead, actively look for ways to bring them more directly into the path the business is aiming to steer: the key goal behind all comms improvements should be giving staff at all levels a reason to feel as emotionally invested in the company’s overall wellbeing as those in the upper echelons are. A sense of disengagement or dislocation can be disastrous for morale, so it really does pay to put some proper thought into teambuilding as a daily and weekly activity – not just in terms of an annual opt-in ‘away day’.
2. Visibly reward hard work, loyalty, reliability
A key part of effectively fostering deeper engagement with the ongoing performance of a company lies in making employees’ contributions feel genuinely valued. This should ideally be achieved via a two-pronged approach: firstly, some kind of tangible rewards system (such as motivational voucher schemes, which have been steadily growing in popularity in the B2B sector for a few years now) is an easy and cost-effective way to acknowledge the value of someone’s input, especially in cases where outstanding effort or dedication has been shown. Think, too, about ways to reward longer-term ongoing contributions, perhaps through time-released access to certain benefits or perks – these can work both to make an employee feel valued as an asset in the immediate sense, and also to foster greater loyalty for years to come, reducing the proven negative impact of employee turnover on productivity.
Secondly, ensuring that robust support systems are in place to adequately protect employees in the event of ill health or other personal difficulties can have an enormous impact (whether or not those systems are ever actually called into play) on overall staff satisfaction levels. Something as simple as offering a long-term sick leave package that goes slightly above the statutory minimums can make all the difference, and really help towards achieving a stronger culture of reliability and loyalty within the workforce – it’s surely no coincidence that levels of absenteeism in the UK are significantly higher than in many other European nations, despite us offering employees one of the lowest rates of sick leave pay on the entire continent.
3. Listen, plan, act, evaluate
Linking back to the first suggestion, we can’t stress enough that effective communications have to go both ways – so, if you’re thinking of paying a little more attention to how information and feedback flows around your business in 2017, do make sure it’s also rebounding back to you from your staff in an open, honest, and above all actionable format.
The basic flow-chart model for being an effective listener in a business environment is pretty simple: talking and discussing issues (both in groups and individually) leads to information and feedback, which leads to you being able to implement both qualitative and quantitative research into points raised, which in turn gives you a strong foundation for developing an action plan, which then gives you a clear path towards making any necessary changes.
Oh, and don’t forget the crucial final step – be sure to evaluate any changes you’ve implemented by returning to the same employees who raised suggestions in the first place, and continue to search for fixes and tweaks until they’re satisfied that the issues they brought to you have been addressed properly.