By Mike Marvin
Executive Director, Strength Solutions, Inc.
One of the best ways to keep employees engaged, motivated (and still working at your company) is by creating a healthy work environment. Healthy work environments bring the most out of staff and administrators alike – and who doesn’t want productive, happy employees that demonstrate consistent high performance?
Here we review 6 professional development tips you can start using today to keep your workplace productive and healthy.
Want a Healthy & Productive Workplace? It’s All About the Relationships
These tips are tried and true from my many decades of managing people in the corporate, collegiate and nonprofit worlds. You might think there’s no time (or money) to implement them, but even beginning with simple gestures of kindness and appreciation creates a snowballing culture of positivity.
1. Give Recognition
Did you know that only 24% of employees are happy with the level of recognition they receive from work? Giving staff proper recognition is one of the first steps in building a healthy workplace. Create a company culture that recognizes and rewards great work – and sacrifice.
Rewarding your employees motivates them and encourages company loyalty, one of the most significant driving forces behind employee growth. Studies show employees who feel appropriately rewarded at work are more likely to be engaged with their jobs and seek professional opportunities for growth and upskilling.
Employee rewards don’t always have to be an elaborate, planned event. Most actually prefer unplanned recognition. Remember your path to management? Wasn’t it so nice just to receive a “thank you” for a tough project or filling in for someone, as if it was appreciated and not just expected? Simply showing gratitude to your employees incentivizes them to stay within your organization and grow. Remember, employee turnover is nearly 20% higher when people don’t feel appreciated. (You’re going to spend a lot of time and money training a replacement who can just as easily find the door.)
While annual raises and awards are great, there are literally 364 days of downtime between them. Try to recognize your team members spontaneously along the way – and don’t just slap a pizza party on it!
2. Time on Task vs. Excitement About the Task
With very rare exceptions, time on task is not directly correlated to productivity. Especially in a market where attracting and retaining good talent is getting more difficult, it’s important to recognize that improving productivity is a complicated task.
It may require rethinking work hours, hybrid and at-home work models. All of these will have to be nuanced and negotiated. What works best for Barbara’s productivity, may not be the same for Joe. It will take regular communication, and developing levels of both flexibility and accountability.
3. Develop Essential (Soft) Skills
In what non-technical areas do your employees most excel at? For example, maybe you have an outstanding project manager and one who lives for quality control. But how are they at interacting with others? What the industry has traditionally labeled “soft” skills are “essential” skills in many modern work environments
It’s common for essential skills to be overlooked in favor of technical skills. Encouraging your employees to develop these skills not only recognizes their unique personalities but also opens opportunities for personal development.
Essential skills are personal, character traits that help employees develop in their careers, such as listening, communicating, delegating and more. Even showing up on time, ready to work, is in this category. Think about how much healthier workplaces could be if everyone just communicated well. What if everyone optimized for time management? When you recognize and nurture essential skills, your entire team benefits from the increased productivity of individuals.
4. Implement Training Programs
Increasing collaboration and communication across departments is essential for healthy, functioning workplaces. One of the best ways to do this is by offering cross-development training programs.
Departments today rarely work independently. Instead, employees often work across departments to get important projects done. So, there is a lot of value in knowing how every department works.
Creating and implementing these training programs can improve communication across units and increase productivity as a whole. For example, your customer service team may be the first to notice an issue with a product or service. However, your business may struggle to adequately address this if the customer service team doesn’t communicate with the product team.
It also helps to gain understanding and respect for other parts of your overall process. How often do you witness fingerpointing, name-calling and infighting because one department thinks they understand the demands of another department. Give them a chance to try it and see if they really do better.
5. Improve Relationships
Relationships are at the heart of every business, whether they’re with people the business serves or with the employees that make it work. So how are you cultivating these relationships?
You must make sure your team has shared values and goals to cultivate these relationships and create a healthy work environment. After all, if everyone on your team is strongly committed to your values, they can bring individual strengths to the table and be successful.
As a leader, make sure management and staff are on the same page regarding company values. If needed, take time to meet with your team to discuss – and listen to – their own personal values, career plans and life goals. Acknowledge their pain points and struggles. They’ll appreciate having their voice heard and be more willing to hear other voices. That’s where great relationships begin!
6. Promote Work-Life Balance
Does your workplace environment give staff more than lip service to balancing work life with home life? Perhaps not as much as you’d like to believe. And that’s never been more apparent than now as A WHOPPING 4.5 MILLION PEOPLE have left jobs during the Great Resignation. They’re telling bosses to shove it – and, in many cases, rightfully so because they’ve decided the combination of low pay and little family time isn’t worth it anymore.
But for the many more millions still working during the pandemic, work-from-home and hybrid workplaces have become the norm. The lines between home life and work life are increasingly blurred. Many people work late into the evening and spend at least six extra hours per week on the job. Interestingly enough, most people work more, not less, with remote and hybrid workplaces.
How do you address this as a leader? First, creating healthy workplaces means your employees have proper time away from work to rest and recoup.
Create policies that better support employee well-being and set clear boundaries between work and home life. For example, keep work projects, emails, Skype calls, and messages limited to working hours. In addition, implement health and wellness programs and training that teach your team things like time management, organization skills and even meditation.
And finally, BE FLEXIBLE. Nothing is more frustrating to an employee than to have management push wellness programs and work life balance and then flat-out refuse requests that will actually help their employees. So if someone needs to take a long lunch to check on their aging parent or needs to have some comp time to go to a child’s conference during the work day, figure out a way to say yes that benefits the employee without compromising the company mission.
A Roadmap to Personal & Professional Development for Your Workplace
The road to creating a healthy workplace is a constant work-in-progress. As you implement these personal and professional development changes, make sure that your employees have a way they can ask questions and provide feedback. You can create a warm, positive, safe and productive space.
Strength Solutions, Inc. nurtures many of these personal and professional development skills through The Virtues Project™, an internationally renowned training program for individual and collective strength building. It teaches Five Strategies that allow each act and interaction to be meaningful. For more information about The Virtues Project™, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (716) 790-3520.