Fostering the right work culture is essential. Without the right work environment, you'll struggle to achieve your company's goals. Learn how to create the best environment for your team.
First up, it’s important to acknowledge that a positive work culture is not one where everyone is happy all the time (this is unrealistic) but is instead one where employees feel supported, inspired and like they’re learning new things. There will be ups and downs and challenging days but a positive environment offers the necessary support to help employees navigate their way through.
Here are some tips:
It’s easy to think that a positive work culture is one that offers a well designed office and unique perks. This is important but another area to think about is creating boundaries in terms of how the work will be done each day.
Do you respect your employees personal lives and want them to take regular breaks? Do you understand that WFH can sometimes result in unhealthy work habits and an inability to switch off?
What boundaries are you going to set as a company to ensure your employees have a healthy work/life balance and how are you going to respect these boundaries?
So think about introducing a remit where no comms are sent outside certain hours. If employees are part-time then encourage them to put an out of office on and don’t schedule meetings on days they can’t attend. Flexibility of hours is also important. A recent survey revealed that 43% of respondents said that flexibility in working hours helped them achieve greater productivity.
As many of us are hybrid working, the office needs to encourage as much collaboration and teamwork as possible. Remember getting feedback from your team is a good idea. Run a quick brainstorm and ask them what they would like to see more of in terms of the office space and ask them how they’d like to spend their social budget.
For those of us making an appearance at the office, remember that it should provide a space where the team are able to talk and share knowledge and not one where everyone sits with headphones on ignoring one another (this may happen sometimes but it’s not good if it’s the vibe every day!).
Also think about meetings. Scheduling too many creates a culture where employees struggle to get work done. Be clear on what the meeting is going to achieve from the outset i.e. what is on the agenda and who is going to follow up on action items?
It sounds so simple but mental health is just as important at work as it is outside work. If someone is suffering with anxiety or is feeling overwhelmed, then they are going to be in ‘fight/flight’ physical response state (this is the one our body goes into when we are under a lot of stress). Sitting down to work will be hard because they can’t focus on a task and can quickly go into a negative spiral.
As a manager, the team will be looking to you to see how you manage your own mental health. Do you leave work on time? Do you have a lunch break? The team culture is shaped by the senior people within that team and your employees will model what they see you doing day to day.
If you suspect one of your team is experiencing serious mental health issues then encourage them to speak to their GP. Also schedule regular catch ups to check in on them (again ensure there are boundaries in place - your role is not to be the mental health expert but you can help with offering support and reassurance).
Ensure you and your team are always growing and learning. Without this the culture will stagnate. If employees are doing the same thing with no challenges and growth then they will quickly become disengaged.
Offering training is part of the puzzle, as is setting clear objectives. What do they want to achieve? How would they like to make it happen? What skill gaps do they need to address? 87% of millennials believe learning and development in the workplace is important If you don’t have the skills within the team then resource training from outside. Also don’t be too literal in thinking about your training. Any activity could offer transferable skills e.g. trying out stand up comedy helps with presentation skills and may be more fun.
Employees who work remotely will require different tactics in order to help create a positive work culture.
This means regular conversations (but don’t make them occasions to simply read through a list of tasks) and thinking about what their work life looks like at home (do they share a house? When can they work best and when is the best time for meetings?)
Remote work is often ideal for deep work when you need to get your head down but can be more challenging when it comes to collaborating. Experiment with different sharing platforms and ask your team for feedback on these. Remember to think about your approach e.g. sending a message about performance to an employee is going to create anxiety but picking up the phone and calling them to talk it through could be more helpful.
Positive work culture isn’t created overnight but the objective is to create a work environment that ideally feels inclusive, supportive, and collaborative at all times. It’s also about providing the best tools for your team so they can get on with the work itself.