A healthy work environment is important for boosting productivity and morale while keeping employees involved in and loyal to the company.
Employees are likely to put more effort into their job if their work environment is a fit one.
Leaders and managers have a responsibility to create environments where dignity, integrity, honesty, and compassion are keystones of the workplace.
So what makes a “healthy leader?”
Leaders who understand the importance of, and looks after, the mental and emotional well being of his/her team members. These leaders reduce perceived and actual stress, are open communicators, and create a safe space for creative thinking and expression.
Looking for ways to achieve these goals?
Follow these suggestions to create a healthy workplace:
Ensure that employees feel that they can take a break.
Even if it is just a five-minute respite, your team will respect you more for allowing them to recharge before tackling the project again.
While straightforward and seemingly obvious, reducing stress goes a long way to create and keep a healthy workplace. Maintain realistic expectations of performance—overloading employees with work that they cannot keep up with will not increase productivity; rather it will foster resentment and frustration, which will prevent progress and inhibit team success.
Consider additional benefits and “perks” that may reduce stress from your team’s life outside of the workplace. Think about flexible hours, telecommuting, on-site childcare, free lunches, etc. Helping your employees with their work/life balance can go a long way in creating a less stressful environment.
Healthy leaders realize that not only do they make mistakes, but their employees do as well.
These leaders and managers learn from their mistakes, and help their team learn from theirs. Rather than punishing employees or looking to place blame, good managers help their team figure out what went wrong, and the best course of action to rectify the issue.
Instead of hiding your mistake, as a leader, it is better to acknowledge it and work through a solution with the team. This fosters an environment of cooperation and collaboration; employees feel freer to suggest new ideas where mistakes are not considered fatal.
It is important to be open about company (or department) direction, the steps needed to achieve those goals and how the team helps to accomplish this. Hiding information is the fastest way to create rumors, suspicion, and mistrust. By including them in your plans, it gives the employees a sense of ownership and importance in their role.
Create a Safe Space
For confident, creative employees, you will need to create a workplace that allows them to voice new ideas freely.
In order to do this, learn more about your team members. Keep a good line of communication open between you and your employees—make yourself available to them to discuss thoughts on how to improve a task, a plan, or an activity.
Even though you don’t want to over task your employees, you still want to set high and reasonable standards. Trusting that your team will perform well breeds goodwill and is likely to spur them into living UP to your expectations.
How you resolve disagreements also affects how healthy the work culture will be. Address the issues immediately and directly; don’t allow problems to linger and fester and create a divisive environment. Create a private and secure space to allow team members to talk through their conflicts.
Images courtesy of watcharakun and ddpavumba / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
So how do you know if you are a healthy leader, one who offers a healthy environment for employees?
Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if you are or not; and it shows you areas where you could improve.
- Are your employees experiencing an appropriate level of stress for the environment they are working in? Or are they overworked and frustrated?
- Do they come to you for help resolving a conflict with another team member?
- Are your employees willing to admit to mistakes?
- Do your employees understand how their role fits in the bigger picture of the company? Are they proud of that role?
- Would you be proud or ashamed of the behavior of those who emulate your behavior and how you treat employees?
- Are your employees comfortable in the work environment? Are they laughing? If employees are comfortable with co-workers and able to find happiness at work, then laughter is likely to occur throughout the day.
- Do your employees share ideas with you? In an atmosphere of trust, employees feel empowered to voice unsolicited feedback. Employees are unlikely to share opinions on how to improve the company unless they feel safe sharing those thoughts.
Make creating and maintaining a healthy work environment a priority. As the work environment is a major factor in the attitudes and efforts of employees, a happy and comfortable space is likely to result in improved performance and better retention.
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I agree with the messages above and find them useful. The problem I have seen in my career is that organizations do a poor job of educating their management staff on effective tools for managers. World Class companies (AlliedSIgnal now Honeywell, General Electric) stand out with training. The question is what can be done to reverse that course?