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How to Foster a Positive & Productive Work Environment

Assembly_line_gears_turning_yoh_blog.jpgWhen people are on the hunt for a job, turnover rate is one of the biggest red flags they look for. If the number is high, a common implication is the company does not value employees.

From a business perspective, the cost of turnover can be extremely detrimental. Zane Benefits cited a study by SHRM claiming that in order to replace an employee, it costs businesses an average of six to nine months’ worth of that person’s salary. This includes hiring, training, and the time it takes for the new employee to be 100% functional in their role.

Learn why the employee experience begins at the on-boarding process and what you can do it ensure its successful arrow-circle-email.png 

As more millennials flood the workplace, one of this age group’s commonly observed characteristics is their knack for job hopping. In order to keep employee retention at a healthy level, you’ve got to make a serious effort to set them up for success. Here’s how you can accomplish this feat.


Conduct reviews regularly

A workplace should be a domain that inspires people to achieve their goals. The key to building a successful operation is keeping employees happy. In fact, an experiment conducted at the University of Warwick found that happy workers were 12% more productive in their day-to-day tasks.

Try scheduling individual sit-downs with each employee at least twice a year to discuss their outlook. Go beyond professional goals. What do they want to achieve personally at this company? Where do they want to be by the time of the next meeting?

Going further, talk about your goals in terms of business growth – both related to the big picture as well as to the specific employee. Keep a record of the conversation. In each consequent meeting, revisit the list of goals you and the employee made during the previous sit-downs. Talk about how each one is being met and how it is influencing morale.

These meetings are essential for keeping everyone on the same page and making sure visions are aligned. Be honest and transparent with your employees. Think of the insights you get here as the roadmap to the success of both parties.

Invest in Quality Training

If there is one thing that is totally worth splurging on, it’s employee training. In the long run, it will be well worth it. Plain and simple, if you want people to succeed in your company, you need to provide them with everything they need from day one. Throwing new hires into a system without proper preparation will not only serve as a terrible first impression to your business model, it will turn customers as well as other employees away in droves and damage your reputation down the line.

A few years ago, BambooHR surveyed 1,005 US employees and found that 76% of respondents agreed that on-the-job training is the most important ingredient for success. Even more, lack of an adequate program was in the top five reasons as to why people leave companies.

Work with managers and senior employees to create a curriculum. Use an interactive platform to present the information. Training employees with webinars is a fantastic strategy for this purpose. You can use pre-recorded series of videos, slide decks, and even have departmental management train new hires on the other side of the world with private meetings, real-time annotations, question answer sessions, and the like. Videoconferencing tools like ClickMeeting give you everything you need to create flawless training presentations and work with the systems you already have in place.

Your employees’ success starts at the beginning. Investing in a reliable training program is one of the best business decisions you can make.


Minimize Micromanagement

No one likes to be micromanaged. As an owner or a manager, it’s completely understandable to want things done a certain way. However, if you are constantly breathing down your employees’ necks and being close-minded to criticism or new ideas, it will have adverse, long-term effects.

Micromanaging gives the impression you do not trust subordinates to do anything on their own and that your way is the ONLY way. While this effects certain people differently, as time goes on, they will likely become more hesitant to carry out simple, day-to-day tasks. Eventually, it will lead to resentment and lack of fulfillment. When this is the case, it’s only a matter of time before employees begin searching for greener pastures.

Let Them Try

It can sometimes be difficult to sit back and let people do their thing. Start slow. For less important tasks, tell people what the outcome needs to be and let them figure out how to get there. You might be surprised, they could very well have a better, more efficient way to achieve the results.


Project Management Systems

If you haven’t already, look into project management systems, Workzone is a balanced cloud-based collaboration tool that gives you full visibility of every performance indicator from the main dashboard, as well as track progress in real-time. It also features workflow management, task approvals, file sharing and reporting, and hence can be used irrespective of your industry.


Let them Fail

Such resources are built for managers to keep tabs on how projects are being executed, but eliminate the need to stand over employees and monitor their every move. People don’t typically grow when they are micromanaged. So let them make mistakes. Provide opportunities to learn and develop. Remember, people don’t leave companies, they leave managers.


Encourage Feedback

For your company to evolve parallel with its employees, you need to be open to feedback. Keep in mind, they see your operation from a totally different perspective than you do as an owner or manager. Truth be told, people can be hesitant to bring up grievances, as they might believe it will jeopardize their job security.

For this reason, you need to make it a point that feedback is welcomed. Doing so can empower workers, boost productivity, and work out kinks before they become significant problems.

Try sending out weekly – or monthly – emails with feedback forms attached. Ask questions like:

  • What went well this week? What didn’t?
  • What were some of the biggest issues you faced? How did you solve them?
  • Use online survey tools like SurveyMonkey or Wufoo to create your own templates for feedback from employees on different levels and departments.

Encouraging feedback is vital for developing a healthy work environment. To set employees up for long-term success, think of your company culture as a constantly-developing entity that functions for the people, because of the people.

Recognize Good Work

Your employees spend a good deal of their waking hours working for you. Be sure you take the time to notice quality work. Doing so costs little and but has a huge impact.

Simple gestures like sponsoring a happy hour following a good month or giving Friday off after a productive week can do a lot to show your employees their efforts are valued. You can offer little (but significant to the individual) incentives to encourage constant improvement – there are tons of ways to increase employee engagement and reward them.

As a leader or manager, appreciating your team members is a rare privilege you should be proud of. Celebrate every small win; make it personal, timely, and fun.

The harsh truth is that recognition in the workplace can be hard to come by. Some cite that it fosters jealousy, complaining, and dissatisfaction. However, it’s important to note that incentive programs are far from a one-size-fits-all system. If you want to keep employees engaged, be sure you emphasize fairness and consistency, while clearly laying out your approach to highlight accomplishments.


Your employees are your most powerful resource. The workplace you create should promote the concept that each person is being utilized to the fullest extent. If an internal system is broken, it’s only a matter of time before the organization crumbles. Ultimately, you want your company to be a place where people prosper, not just pay their dues.


About the Author: Lori Wagoner is a marketing and business consultant. She helps small businesses put in place growth-focused digital strategies. Lori is also a prolific blogger; she writes for Tweak Your Biz, Project Eve, Small Biz Daily, and many other business publications. You can follow her on Twitter @LoriDWagoner. 

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