How to Improve the Working Environment at Your Business
One way to address negative aspects in the workplace and ensure that employees can work well together as a team is to pay attention to working relationships. The world may be unpredictable, but the quality of working relationships provides stability. In workplaces where trust, a sense of belonging, and genuine care for each other are cultivated, employees can focus on giving the company or the project their absolute best.
When the environment doesn’t support high-quality working relationships, your employees spend more time dealing with office politics or covering their backs to reduce personal risk. If your goal is to create high-quality working relationships among employees, supervisors, and upper management, give the items here prime consideration.
Improving emotional safety at your business
To improve emotional safety, identify barriers to trustworthy interpersonal relationships (punishing disclosure of safety risk, for example) and then work with managers and supervisors to establish accountability for better practices. Here are some suggestions:
- Sustain caring, respectful working relationships. Rather than confirm the negative, relationships must support the positive. Solid emotional support helps people recover from stressful situations, whereas relationships that confirm negativity in the workplace affirm the trauma.
- Provide opportunities to talk about traumas and release emotion. Trauma results from a painful, stressful, or shocking event that can be sudden or prolonged over time. Traumatic experiences include losing a coworker, an insensitively handled layoff, violence in the workplace, or a bullying boss. Be sure to acknowledge and look after your own feelings, as well.
- Plan casual events that support social interaction, in a comforting environment. Doing so allows the workplace community to collectively process its experience.
Often management sends the message that employees just need to get over it or that their feelings about the situation indicate weakness. This attitude only makes the trauma worse. Conversely, excessive focus can strengthen the trauma by reinforcing the sense of powerlessness. The difference lies between allowing the emotions to be processed versus repeatedly reliving the experience.
Anne Murray Allen, in her former role as Senior Director for Knowledge and Intranet Management for Hewlett-Packard, suggests saying something like this to get the conversation going: “We are missing a process here. If we had it, it would make everyone’s life easier. How about we all get together to create this process so it works?”
Ensuring physical safety at your business
To ensure physical safety, set standards and live by them. In industries such as construction and manufacturing, workplace safety requires watchfulness. Give experienced employees the assignment of identifying potential hazards or practices.
In companies where speed of production can undermine personal safety, employees will “take one for the team” if meeting quotas has a higher priority than workplace safety. In some workplace environments, such a priority can mean a limb lost — not something you want credit for.
Ensuring high-quality interactions within your business
To ensure high-quality interactions between employees, supervisors, and upper management, create an atmosphere that affirms employee confidence by genuinely acknowledging effort. This suggestion doesn’t mean you have to be Mr. or Ms. Nice 24/7. It means that recognition is a natural part of the interaction between you and all the employees you come in contact with.
Spontaneously praise employees for jobs well done. Include fun as part of the working day. When you have fun, don’t do so at anyone’s expense, but out of the pure pleasure of working with a great group of people. Your genuine enthusiasm and sincere appreciation for their efforts can make a big different, even when your employees aren’t feeling so great about themselves or their work.