For small and medium enterprises, great workplace culture is the foundation for success. Happier staff work harder, stay longer and do better in their jobs. The stats don’t lie: companies with more engaged workers grew revenue 2.5x as much as companies with less engaged workers. So, just how do you build a brilliant workplace culture?
Dialogue and conversation are vital tools in the workplace, as challenging as that might be. The key is to be open to criticism and suggestion, whilst still maintaining accountability and professionalism. That might seem like a tall order but establishing a few ground rules is often enough of a foundation for most workplaces to engage in some seriously constructive discussions. First, ask employees to ensure that any serious disagreements take place behind closed doors, otherwise you risk appearing disorganised and disunified.
Secondly, encourage discussion not conflict. Opposing opinions are best used like rungs on a ladder, helping everyone to climb. Lastly, give your employees room to be wrong. Obviously there are limits, but employees aren’t going to seize initiative and be invested in maintaining a great workplace culture if they think they’re being judged on it. Again, it’s about the net positive for the team, not about who’s right or wrong.
Be ready to listen
Part of that constructive dialogue is ideally going to involve employees talking to you honestly. Recognising their ideas, their issues and their general mood is essential. Employees that feel that their company understands them, and 75% of employees will stay longer at a company that listens to their concerns.
Anonymous feedback is a powerful tool to do just this: large companies are increasingly fond of quarterly surveys to touch base with employees, but there are much more dynamic options. Tinypulse sends out a single question a week, allowing to get answers quickly, whilst Company Mood lets you track a general mood for your business day by day, week by week. This allows you identify particularly taxing days, or keep an eye on how everyone’s feeling in general. Starting to see those smiles turn upside down? Maybe it’s time for a work outing!
Work together, play together
The best work outings acknowledge that everyone is different. For some, the idea of a day out of themed activities might sound like a great way to bond and have fun. For others, it’s their worst possible nightmare. Many HR departments and managers tend to make the mistake of pushing events in the name of company unity without really considering their audience. Find something that will really appeal to your staff: not only is it going to nip any muttered dissent in the bud, but knowing you’ve taken the time to really think about what your staff would like is a surefire way to make them feel appreciated.
Keeping a happy, engaged workplace isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. You have to be as just as you are kind, as fair as you are understanding. The old saying “one bad apple spoils the bunch” is remarkably true in the world of business: all it takes to sour a previously sweet work environment is a less than stellar employee. If their colleagues see this worker failing in their duties, not trying, turning up late and having other bad habits, they’re going to expect something to be done about it. If you don’t, they’ll either believe you find those habits acceptable or become disenfranchised with the fact that that others are getting away with sloppy standards.
By all means, be an understanding boss but at the end of the day, you need to think about your business as a whole. It might seem like a kind choice to indulge one person’s mistakes, but by doing so you’re doing a disservice to those that put their all in for you.