- Josh Weidmann
Have you ever hated your place of work? Maybe you loved your job, but the place you perform the work is less than desirable. I’ve been there too and had to muscle through. If you relate to this struggle, this article is for you. Or perhaps you are a manager and a leader in an organization. If so, your employees count on you to provide a positive work environment. If you fall short in this area, the results you are striving for may elude you, whether in a church or in a business. This article is for you too. Here are some things that can help make your place of work the most desirable and the most productive possible. These principles are based on my own experience, some good Harvard Research and insights I’ve gained from other business books I’ve read. When these elements exist, people not only stay, they also contribute to your overall mission. 1. Cast clear vision. Without vision, people perish. This is true for individuals, churches and corporations. Vision is the thing that causes a person to make it through the mundane day-to-day in anticipation for the future. When vision is lacking, then laziness, gossip and infighting can become the norm. A future goal gives the people in your organization something to fuel their efforts. 2. Maintain great communication. When a leadership decision is made, managers and executives should immediately ask: (1) “Who does this affect?” and (2) “How should we tell them?” When you communicate with the people you are leading in a timely, effective and personal manner, loyalty follows. Avoid spin or false transparency. Give your audience everything you can, as soon as you can. No one likes surprises unless it’s a party. 3. Care for them personally. Some of the best companies in the world care for employees in very personal ways. Whether it is through nap pods or monthly sponsored date nights for employees with their spouses, organizations should always look for opportunities to care for the people who keep the gears in motion. Compensation is a part of the picture. Provide adequate or above average salary and benefits. When we care for our employees, the impact is felt by their families and therefore reduces friction or any insubordination that could fester up. When my wife is happy with my workplace, I am a much better employee; the same is true for those I lead. 4. Provide encouragement from the top. I had a staff member tell me recently that he does not get a lot of encouragement from the top. He said, “I only hear from leadership when something is wrong.” I apologized profusely. This should never be the case. Cross-departmental encouragement is great, but nothing can replace encouragement from our supervisors. It is important that employees hear praise from the top for their achievements and hard work. 5. Pay for offices where people like to be. Who wants to go to work in an environment that they hate? I believe that everything from lighting to the coffee machine must be considered for the employee’s comfort. Do the basics: Hire a janitorial service to take out the trash, get a water cooler, buy the right desks, make sure the Internet and telephone services are up to speed. Go above and beyond! Provide a fridge with drinks and snacks, allow employees to work half-days at times in the summer so they can enjoy family time, offer nice holiday means, include generous maternity and paternity leave, etc. Some of the best companies go above and beyond the basics to ensure the working environment is a great place to be. The payoff is an increase in productivity as well as company or church loyalty. 6. Work hard to clarify expectations and provide a clear picture of what success looks like. When a person knows the goal they are shooting for, they experience a greater sense of satisfaction when they hit it. It is important that visionaries and managers within an organization clearly define expectations and goals. When we do so, we help our employees succeed. Without clear expectations, we breed anxiety. Who wants to work in a continual state of “I wonder if this is good enough”? 7. Provide people the opportunity to learn and grow. Employees may inevitably move on, so do all you can to help them be better when they leave than when they first came. Provide professional and personal development opportunities; pay for them to take classes, to learn a new skill, or to grow through a workshop or by reading a book. Set a budget and allow employees to spend a percentage of their time at work developing their personal skills. How can you find greater fulfillment at work? Look for an organization that includes the qualities and opportunities listed. How can you retain quality employees and breed loyalty for your company or church? Apply the principles outlined. Culture matters!