Work can be grueling. Handling expectations, relationships, and communication is overwhelming for many. We’ve put together some tips and best work practices to help make your life — and the lives of those around you — as comfortable and smooth as possible.
Workplace survival 101
In a standard workday, we spend eight (or more) hours coexisting with clients, bosses, and coworkers. This can be tough and very stressful for us, so it’s best for us to facilitate these interactions with a few key strategies in mind.
With the pandemic shifting the expectations of our workdays and how to best communicate and collaborate remotely, creating a good workplace culture has become more important than ever. Whether employees are now in an office, working from home, or a hybrid method, we must aim to create a work environment that’s safe, engaging, and productive.
Why is workplace culture important? Because it directly affects everything else. Employee well-being, for example, supports performance and productivity, while communication and transparency help create trust. All of this factors into employee engagement practices, and directly impacts a company's reputation. With all these moving parts in play, how can we begin to build a positive workplace?
Work to establish and become part of the culture
A company’s culture is made up of the values, attitudes, and traditions of its employees, who have a significant and ongoing influence on it, whether they’re in a leadership role or not. Here are some ways to create a great working culture:
- Set clear goals and values. Employee engagement best practices at work are more effective when we’re all on the same page and working toward the same goal. Great internal communication can help team members align on objectives and understand what’s expected of us.
- Have a clear and relatable mission. The benefits of clear expectations also apply here. In a work environment where employees can relate to and support the mission statement and values, there’s likely to be increased productivity and engagement.
- Follow and exemplify your workplace’s culture. As business leaders are an active part of the decision-making process, they should be responsible for the employee experience. This means they take into account their team members' personal lives, mental health, physical well-being, and any other workspace concerns through employee engagement surveys. By doing this, they create a work environment that serves everyone.
- Establish comprehensive rules and policies. These rules and policies must be in line with the company’s purpose. Clear communication is crucial for running an office smoothly. In remote work environments, we might choose to use apps such as Slack, LinkedIn, or Microsoft Teams to keep everyone in the loop. These tools can help with real-time notifications to convey anything urgent.
- Participate in company activities and routines. Engaged employees are high-performing employees, and leaders can encourage this by taking the lead and demonstrating it first. Casual social engagement can also improve rapport and show that we care about team members as individuals.
What are some values and attitudes we want to see in the office? If open communication, teamwork, and taking accountability for mistakes are important to us, we should strive to demonstrate these attitudes and incorporate them into the culture of our company.
Keep the morale high
It’s important to keep workplace morale high by rewarding team members who have done well to encourage good behavior in others. Even providing resources, workshops, and other professional development initiatives where necessary will motivate team members and make them feel valued.
Here are a few more ways to boost morale and engage with employees in the workplace.
1. Recognize accomplishments
When team members go above and beyond or make it through a rough patch, reward them. As leaders, we shouldn’t shy away from publicly rewarding and appreciating our peers or employees. This will help everyone understand each other’s contributions.
Be sure to make rewards personal. We want to come across as genuine and demonstrate our gratitude, so an email and thank-you card won’t cut it. Try social recognition and tap into peer-to-peer relationships within a company. Think of this as a chance for employees to engage with each other to express their gratitude and share positive feedback.
2. Prioritize learning
At the office, we’re often tempted to play it safe and go with the pre-established flow. This is why fostering innovation and ideas in the workplace should be rewarded and encouraged. When a teammate is curious and adventurous about alternatives to the current system or has ideas about improving the workspace, we should recognize their willingness to innovate rather than shut them down.
Small companies in newer industries must especially prioritize learning. In industries where exploration and innovation are crucial, employee engagement contributes greatly to company success.
3. Open communication channels
As business owners, it’s important for us to remember that feedback goes both ways. Those of us in leadership or managerial roles should allow employees to provide feedback for our own performance, give ideas, and ask questions.
To do so, we should set up clear and accessible channels for quick and transparent communications. This will make the feedback process more effective and boost employee trust, allowing them to communicate honestly and give feedback without fear of retaliation.
4. Make yourself helpful
Employee engagement in the office can manifest in a variety of ways and can be tailored to suit our individual personalities and strengths. An outgoing team member could focus on cultivating workplace friendships, organizing social events, and facilitating communications or introductions, while a more experienced member of staff could volunteer to train a new hire or ask to work on a new project in their spare time.
5. Don’t be afraid to speak up
It’s daunting to be the first to speak up, even when we have something important to say. But it’s likely that our feedback will be invaluable in improving the workplace culture. Here are some helpful tips to provide feedback in the workplace:
- Focus on the behavior to change, not a person: Try to give constructive, actionable criticism, and don’t make it personal.
- Don’t leave anything to the imagination: Be specific and provide details about the things that we want to change. It may also be helpful to give concrete examples (without pulling people up).
- Timing is everything: Consider that a person with a positive state of mind will be more open to what we have to say. Don’t take too long to say something that’s urgent, but be mindful of when you broach a topic that may be sensitive.
- Sandwich it: We should structure our feedback so that a negative thing is stated in between two compliments or recognition of a positive accomplishment. This will help keep things light-hearted and show that we aren’t engaging with negative intentions.
- Offer support: We should keep an open line of communication and attempt to follow up. Team members who may be struggling with criticism will appreciate having a resource to lean on if things get difficult.
6. Make sure everyone is comfortable
Our physical (or digital) workplaces should be a reflection of our company’s culture. For this to happen, make sure everyone is emotionally and physically comfortable. Ideally, the company culture should be positive and supportive to combat any stressors in the workplace, and our peers should be our partners and allies, not our enemies.
To sum it up
Being with the same group of people for a prolonged period of time can sometimes be rough, but the workplace doesn’t have to be a place of stress and competition. If everyone is committed to good communication, empathy, openness, and encouraging inclusion, we can begin creating a space we’re excited to be in.
At Practice, we’re in the business of building and maintaining great relationships, whether that’s with fellow employees or customers. Try our all-in-one client management system today.