What contributes to an ideal work environment?
This is a preference that is held by you and your team. An ideal work environment will look different for every small business. Here are some key factors you can use to shape your business into a great place to work.
Who is leading the way? That would be you. What stories are you telling your team? What is important to them that is also important to you? Why does your company exist? (And it better not be just to make you and your family rich). Understand that the role you play as a leader (both what you say and how you act) is of extreme importance to creating an ideal work environment.
As much as you are important, what your team wants and needs is more important. They are there for themselves, not for you. They are asking “What’s in it for me?” Make sure you can answer that question. This is personal and it is important that you understand why each person on your team is there.
Make each and every employee feel like your business partner. Let them feel the experience of ownership by encouraging them to think like entrepreneurs. This includes allowing them to create, test and improve company systems. Ask them: How can we do this better?
Ask for their feedback and be sure to listen carefully to their suggestions. Use that feedback to make things better for customers and employees so you can have an ideal work environment.
Ensure that you have a healthy work environment that includes scheduled mandatory breaks, and access to healthy food and that encourages some physical activity for those desk-bound.
As you work to schedule time for healthy activities, ask yourself if you allow the same for your employees. It pays as a business owner to know your employees and to concern yourself with the things that take a toll on their health. A business is only as healthy as its least healthy workers.
Healthy people make up a healthy work environment!
Inclusion means being clear with your team and allowing them to participate in the company’s “big picture”. Share with your employees your frustrations and vision. Ask them to help solve company problems and reach for higher goals. This helps lower any office politics that may negatively impact your ideal work environment. Plus it increases morale because people feel they are contributing with purpose. Overall this leads to high productivity and low turnover because your team is motivated to come to work each day.
Inclusion also means having a diverse workforce. A diverse workplace welcomes and holds space for all racial and cultural identities or backgrounds, LGBTQ+ and all sexual orientations and identities, persons with disabilities or other mental and physical differences, women and non-binary people, veterans, and people with varying citizenship statuses.
When we stop putting individuals in categories of age, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity we have taken the first giant step towards creating a more diverse and healthy organization. Diversity is a given, inclusion is a choice.
5. Standards and Systems
Finally, you can outline expected company-wide standards to help create the work environment you want. This ensures everyone who works for you knows and is expected to live by these rules. A restaurant, for example, may want to include dress-code standards in their agreement. A roofing company could include standards governing appropriate language on the job site. What are three no-compromise standards you have for your team?
Motivation impacts performance. Make sure employees know what “performance” is by defining the standards in terms of their individual responsibilities. Tie their performance to something as it relates to the overall success of the organization. They are important and they need to know that. Give them both the responsibility and the authority to do their best job.
Finally, document systems so that there is clarity on how things are done. Make things easier for everyone. Be open to changing the system with input from employees using the system. Following your systems will create order for your team. When there is order in a company, there is space for creativity and fun. This helps build an ideal work environment.
What else impacts your work environment?
In your experience, what else has had a big impact on your work environment? Feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time, enjoy your Entrepreneurial Journey!