As anyone who has worked in an office setting can attest, not all business cultures are created equal. Some have positive cultures that reward and encourage employees, foster open communication and keep people at the company for years, while some are downright inflexible and cut-throat, contributing to high attrition rates and making everyone dread Mondays.
Being part of a negative workplace environment -- such as one that is highly competitive and stressful -- can quite literally cost you and/or your employer, both economically and in terms of health. Research has linked high-stress work environments to lost work days and greater employer health-care costs, as well as higher incidence of employee disease, accidents and mortality. In contrast, work environments in which employees are happy are more likely to experience higher productivity and less attrition.
Luckily there are steps business ownership and management can take to help ensure their companies have positive business cultures. We've compiled a few of the top such measures below.
Reward a job well done
Hard work may be its own reward, but praise and spot bonuses will stand management in better stead with employees. Some companies today seem to operate on the principle that recognizing long hours and employee 'wins' will somehow weaken the staff or encourage a culture of hand-holding. For most workers, the opposite is true. Verbal or written praise costs management nothing, and it can go a significant way toward boosting a hard worker's morale. So, too, can a relatively inexpensive measure of recognition (think a $100 gift card or ordering in lunch for the team following successful completion of a project).
Large amounts of stress for protracted periods lead to at least one certainty in pretty much everybody: burnout. To prevent it among employees, make sure you're promoting a culture in which people are the company's prime asset and concern.
One way to do that is to openly encourage de-stressing. Hire a yoga instructor once a month to lead a free, 30-minute, all-levels stretching class. Buy plants and put them near natural light throughout the office. (Plants have been shown to calm people down.) Have weekly or bi-monthly de-stress-snack days, comprising nuts, dark chocolate or broccoli crudites with dip. All these foods are known to have health effects that are likely to help employees fight workplace stress.
Most of us can recall having had at least one boss who has intimidated (OK, scared) us just a bit -- and chances are we didn't exactly relish the thought of asking that person for anything even when we needed to. If you're the kind of manager who demands that down-to-the-minute PTO be recorded before an employee leaves work an hour early to put her dying dog to sleep, chances are you're not part of a positive workplace culture.
When possible, be flexible with employees who genuinely need flexibility. If there's no looming client deadline and a member of your staff has come to you asking for tomorrow off to take his child to the doctor, let him.
Of course, you don't want to become a doormat, either. Consistent, unaccounted-for absences or lateness should be addressed head-on. But do try to realize that even in the lives of dedicated employees there are sometimes extenuating circumstances, and workers are people first, employees second.
Positive business cultures need positive work spaces. Office space that includes state of the art technology and modern amenities provides an optimal setting for a positive work culture.
Are you looking for elegant, highly appointed, centrally located office space in D.C.? Check out Metro Offices' multiple locations today.