With inflation, one cost-of-living crisis after another, and trouble in the job market, employee retention is a hot topic on many employers’ minds.
A lot of resources go into hiring employees; searching, recruiting, onboarding, training, and it can all go down the drain if an employee leaves. More importantly, employees are the heart of an organization. When they leave, it can negatively impact workflows, processes, knowledge banks, and even morale.
Employees quit for a variety of reasons, but often it’s because their employer didn’t give them something they needed, wanted, or deserved. A big factor in their decision is their work environment.
What is a work environment and why it matters
A work environment is made up of physical and non-physical conditions in which a person performs their job.
- Their office space, e.g., physical layout, equipment and tools available, noise and lighting, safety and security, temperature and ventilation, etc.
- Social and cultural aspects, e.g., workplace communication styles and tools, relationships with colleagues and supervisors, support and recognition, etc.
A positive work environment helps employees to thrive. A work environment can be considered good when all employees feel safe, supported, appreciated, challenged, and recognized.
On the other hand, in a poor work environment employees will feel stressed, burnt out, unmotivated, uninterested, and disengaged.
A good work environment is key in helping employees feel that they:
- Are truly a part of something bigger than they are
- Care about the work that they do
- Are invested in their jobs
It’s also effective at:
- Boosting productivity, creativity, job performance, mental health, respect, collaboration, and trust
- Reducing stress
- Shaping employee culture
- Influencing employee values, attitudes, and behaviors
With this in mind, it’s easy to see how a good work environment helps to lower employee turnover rates. Employees who like their job will find every reason that they can to stay.
How to create a good work environment
While there are many different kinds of organizations, each with their own unique work cultures and values, there are some universal ways to create a good work environment. Here are some tips.
1. Personal relationships
Transactional relationships are flimsy and one-dimensional. Work relationships don’t have to be impersonal. Instead, employees and supervisors should be encouraged to get to know each other as human beings so that they have an idea of who that person is.
This also goes with the leaders in a company. The relationship between them and their followers should be a two-way street. They must know their team members individually to encourage collaboration, trust, and strong ties.
Building genuine, meaningful relationships between colleagues is a surefire way to increase workplace happiness, productivity, and engagement.
2. Praise and recognition
Employees don’t need to be handheld or mollycoddled, but they do deserve appropriate praise and recognition for their efforts. Some great times for such measures are at the end of a project or when they’ve done some outstanding work.
Praise and recognition can be verbal or written or come in the form of a raise or bonus. Some employees like vouchers, others enjoy being praised in front of their team. The specific form of appreciation will depend on the employee, but the concept is the same.
Employees who feel recognized for their efforts know that the work that they do means something and that their organization puts the effort into them as well.
3. Fair compensation
No organization can say that they offer their employees a positive work environment if they don’t compensate them fairly.
Fair compensation doesn’t just stop at a living wage. It should also encompass bonuses, incentives, health benefits, paid time off, sick days, vacation days, and other forms of support.
Many organizations place employee compensation low down on their priority list when they are budgeting, but it is possibly the single biggest contributing factor to what an employee’s workplace experience is like.
Sometimes organizations struggle to do more to make their employees happy, and while money isn’t everything, it certainly means a lot.
4. Encouraging conversations
Workplaces often have taboo topics like salaries, biases, sexism, and racism. Yet, in order for all employees to feel that they are safe, respected, and valued, conversations that revolve around such topics should be allowed and encouraged.
Part of a healthy workplace is allowing employees to be individuals as well as a collective. They must be able to voice their opinions in respectful and proper ways so that they can learn from each other, form real connections, and grow authentically.
Having conversations also extends to leaders and teams. Teams should be able to ask questions about company and project goals, visions and missions, and more. Leaders should be asking for feedback via surveys.
5. Offering more than just work
Workplaces can offer remote work capabilities to help encourage a work-life balance for their employees as well as opportunities for learning and growth such as courses.
This helps employees to continue to thrive on a personal level. They can enjoy their personal and social lives as well as continuing to further their knowledge and career.
6. Ensuring there are consequences
It’s one thing for a workplace to say that they are diverse, inclusive, and have fair workplace practices, but it’s another to put these things into practice. Workplaces must ensure that they have consequences for employees who threaten, harass, bully, or otherwise negatively treat other employees.
They must have policies to handle misdemeanors and plenty of support in place for those that are at the receiving end, and work tirelessly to keep the workplace safe.
Great work environments make loyal employees
Positive work environments encourage employee engagement, satisfaction, and growth. They’re a win for all parties involved – the organization gains loyal employees that work hard and love their jobs, employees are happy and fulfilled, and customers get world-class service and products.
It’s no wonder that organizations put in the effort to make their work environments great. It truly revolutionizes everything.