How to build a positive work environment
One of the main factors affecting employee engagement is their work environment. Here are some tips on how to manage employee relations and foster a decent work atmosphere, and in turn, build an engaged team.
In offices, in a factory at a noisy machine, from your own couch, or even from the beach – these days, work can be done from many places, in many different ways. However, it is hard to find a person who works in complete isolation from other people. Everyone who works, to a greater or lesser extent, must cooperate with other people. These people create a work environment in which we spend most of the day and which, to some extent, influences not only our well-being but also our engagement at work.
What does a positive work environment bring?
Positive work environment means being surrounded by supportive, positive people, building personal relationships with them, bonding, and therefore belonging to a team, a comfortable atmosphere. Such a friendly workplace is one of the key emotional drivers of employee engagement. It affects the fact that employees themselves want to be involved in the work, act for the benefit of the company.
Creating personal relationships in the organization builds emotional bonds and creates a stronger sense of belonging to the group, acting as a team. Ties and a friendly workplace cause people to perform better than those who find the work environment alien and unfriendly. A friendly atmosphere at work also makes time pass more smoothly. We spend a large part of our day at work, so how we feel at work affects our mood and overall well-being.
A good working environment, atmosphere and relationships between employees are what you need to work on if you want to have not only engagedand productive, but above all happy employees.
Who builds a positive work environment?
Perhaps a large number of people would immediately answer that the employees. And of course, this is true, but it is not only the employees themselves who are responsible for what the atmosphere in the team is like, what kind of relationships they build among themselves, how they feel with each other. Managing employee relations is one of the tasks of supervisors. The atmosphere at work is therefore a combination of the actions of employees, supervisors, but also the organizational culture of the company. The most important thing, however, is that each of these components can be worked on, so a positive work environment is something that can be shaped. But how to do it? There are many ways, and they must be adjusted to the actual situation of the company, the specificity of work performed and the organizational culture itself. Below we present some tips for supervisors, which may prove useful regardless of the circumstances.
How to create a friendly workplace? – tips for managers
1.Work on your and your employees’ Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence is essential to managing relationships at work. This Emotional Intelligence includes empathy; persuasion, understood as the ability to elicit a specific emotion or response in others; assertiveness; leadership; and collaboration, in other words, establishing relationships and acting with others.
A manager with high Emotional Intelligence can better empathize with the moods of employees, understand their emotions, and influence them more efficiently. Such a person will take action to improve the atmosphere at work as soon as he or she senses that employees feel uncomfortable in each situation.
It is also worth working on the Emotional Intelligence of employees – how? The answer to this is courses, trainings, through which they will gain greater knowledge of their emotions, learn to better deal with them, and this will certainly positively affect the atmosphere in the team.
2.Treat employees the same way, do not favor anyone
Equal treatment and respect from a manager have a significant impact on how employees feel. Employees may have a good relationship with one another, but when they feel that one of their team members is receiving special treatment, favoritism, these relationships can be shaken. The sense of injustice is a contributor to conflict. Sometimes it also puts favored employees in an awkward position.
Therefore, always ensure that you treat your employees equally, and if for some reason, for example, you allow one person to have facilities that are significantly different from others, consider how you can compensate the others so that they do not feel disadvantaged. But most of all, try to avoid these situations.
3.Assist in conflict resolution
In any team, conflict situations sometimes emerge. Ideally, employees could deal with problems, to resolve them in a constructive manner. When you, as a manager, see such a situation between employees or find out that a dispute has occurred in the team that employees have not resolved on their own, you should step in.
All conflicts should be resolved, not “swept under the rug.” Why? Overall, they may result in a deterioration of the atmosphere, and the echo of the conflict will return at other, more difficult moments.
As a leader, you should approach the problem without unnecessary emotions, listen to the arguments of both sides, not favoring any of them and not making a priori assumptions about who is right. Developing a common position should ensure a lasting solution to the problem and consistent implementation of the planned actions. Above all, try to function as a mediator and, if possible, do not impose ready-made solutions to the conflict. By doing so, you will ensure a good atmosphere at work.
4.Create opportunities for integration
The reasons for weak relationships in the workplace can be varied. One of them, especially now, may be the shift of employees to remote work. Relationships in the workplace can suffer as employees lose personal contact with each other. Not being in the office, having “lunch” or “coffee machine” conversations doesn’t give them the opportunity to learn more about each other. Such familiarity is important even when there is little time for interaction during work hours, which happens, for example, in manufacturing facilities.
It is important that employees see their colleagues in their co-workers, to whom they will be able to turn in a demanding situation, or even talk to them during the break and take their minds off their ongoing duties for a moment. Obvious solutions are various types of integration events, Christmas parties, family picnics.
However, it is a good idea to involve the employees in deciding on the way of integration and, for example, the date of the meeting. This should be a pleasant event for them, not a constraint. It may turn out, for example, that a common bowling outing will not be an interesting attraction for most employees, and the organization of a Christmas Eve meeting on the evening of 6 December will not be the best idea for those who have children and would like to spend that day with them. In addition, such influence on the decision has a positive effect on the engagement of employees, shows them that their opinions are important, empowers them.
5.Appreciate not only individually but also as a team
An important part of building employee engagement is recognition. More managers are realizing how crucial it is to give ongoing positive feedback to employees and are trying to apply it to their daily work. But what can you do to make employees feel that they are a team? Appreciate them as a team as well.
The individual work of each employee is important, but in many cases, it is the combination of these activities precisely in the form of teamwork that brings the best results. Sometimes it is not even a typical teamwork, but simply support, help given by a co-worker.
That is why the words of appreciation should be addressed not only to e.g., the project manager or the main programmer in the team, but to all the people whose work contributed to the success. Thanks to this the employees will also understand that the support they give is noticed by their superiors and perceived as something positive. Attention should also be paid to such aspects when the appreciation takes the form of, for example, a bonus. In such a situation, rewarding e.g., only the team leader will contribute to worsening the atmosphere at work and will demotivate employees to act.
6.Choose employees wisely
Employee relations management is primarily about working with people who are already employed by the company, assigned to a particular team. However, when a manager could do so by participating in the hiring process, they should consider whether a particular candidate will fit into the team, into the company culture.
Competencies related to the scope of responsibilities are certainly a key point to consider, but it should be asked whether it will be possible to fully use them if someone completely fails to build relationships with other members of the team, or even spoils the existing atmosphere.
7.Pay attention to method of communication
The way you address your employees, the way you communicate with them translates to a substantial extent into what kind of atmosphere prevails at the workplace. When the manager often himself introduces a nervous atmosphere, e.g., through competitive language, it is difficult to create a friendly workplace and build relationships. If it becomes a standard in the company for managers to address their subordinates in a rude manner, such behavior may also be transferred to other levels in the organization.
Therefore, pay attention to how you communicate with employees, whether you set an example for them with your behavior. Additionally, it is worth developing communication as a skill in employees, teach them how to give feedback, how to appreciate others, but also how to accept criticism. Development of this competence will help to build better relationships between employees and will have a positive impact on their engagement.
8.Create a Friendly Workplace
Managing relationships in the workplace is one side of the coin. On the other hand, it should be borne in mind that it is easier to build positive relations, to create a positive atmosphere, when the place itself encourages it. It has been known for a long time that e.g., the colors of walls, intensity of light, noise, vegetation are reflected in human mood.
Pleasant colors in the office, comfortable desks, a place where you can eat breakfast together or drink coffee and talk are just a few elements that can help create a friendly working environment!
Build a positive environment based on data
It’s hard to be an engaged employee when you don’t feel comfortable with the people you work with, when you can’t build relationships with them and don’t have support from them. A positive work environment is something to keep in mind when looking to improve employee performance and engagement. Fortunately, it is something that can be shaped. How do you improve the work environment? A considerable influence is not only the employees themselves, but their supervisors. It is their task to, among others, choose the right team members, solve conflicts, which employees have not dealt with, or even appreciate successes.
However, the problem turns out to be not only building this environment and managing employee relations but knowing in which areas to act. Employee engagement study may prove useful, in which the issues related to employee relations and workplace atmosphere are explored in depth. Such a tool can easily provide current information not only about the engagement itself, but also about what actions should be implemented.
It is crucial that the survey touches upon the emotional dimension of employee engagement, as such aspects constitute an important basis for creating a good atmosphere in the workplace.
Check out the possibilities of the Enpulse study and build a positive work environment.