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The common sentiment that one must drag himself to work and suffer through the workday does not have to be true, though it often is. If this is the case, it may be necessary to start improving the work environment by first analyzing what the common problems are in a workplace and addressing them directly. The first and most important step toward improving work environments is to foster an open communication between employees and managers to ensure all parties feel comfortable working together to make changes for the better.
Managers must, of course, lead by example when improving work environments. If the managers want to see improved production from employees, the managers must demonstrate these traits in their own work habits. Constantly avoiding work will only give employees a reason to do the same; motivated managers, on the other hand, will give employees an example by which they, too, can be motivated. A manager should not seal himself off in an office and avoid interacting with employees; on the contrary, a good manager will interact with employees regularly and positively.
A good way to foster this sort of atmosphere is by developing employee recognition programs that show the employees their work is valued and their contributions are important. Improving work environments means ensuring everyone in that workplace feels valued and respected. A simple thank you is often enough, but really improving work environments will involve ideas such as making certificates of recognition, having office gatherings at which excelling employees are recognized, or even creating a rewards structure that allows an employee to earn a monetary award or other valuable item. Doing so not only recognizes the employee who has excelled, but also motivates other employees to do the same.
Every person in the office, including managers and low-level employees, should have set goals for daily functions as well as long-term activities. These goals can be outlined in a professional development plan, or they may be personal documents that each individual refers to on a daily basis. The employee should focus on achieving the goals he or she has set out for himself or herself; a manager or owner can have a hand in developing these goals, but it is important that the employee take responsibility for himself or herself and develop the plan. Rewards can be given for achieving goals, and employees can work in teams to achieve other goals.
This article makes me think of the stories I've heard about the wonderful work environments for people who work for the big technology companies. I'm thinking specifically of Google, but there are some other similar ones.
The people who work there have all kinds of perks, like an onsite doctor, ice cream machines, salad bars, paid vacations every year and so forth.
They pretty much pick the best people they possibly can and then try to keep them. I know if I had all those perks I wouldn't dream of leaving.
Although I don't know how viable this would be for smaller companies, maybe it would be worth throwing in an ice cream making machine to the lunch room. I know that would improve my work environment tremendously!
People themselves make such a huge difference in a work environment. My mother is the manager of a relatively large company and she has been for about five years now. She started out extremely stressed at her job, partly because of the learning curve, but also because there were several people at her job who simply weren't very good at what they were supposed to be doing.
Over the years, my mother has been able to slowly weed out these people, either by putting them through competency testing, or moving them to positions where they were happier.
It sounds mercenary, but a couple of people who complain all the time and don't pull their own weight can really bring down the whole working environment.
My mother took this lesson to heart and now whenever she hires someone she doesn't only look at their qualifications but also tries to see how they will fit into the group.
I think this article really gets to the heart of the matter. In my opinion, what often goes wrong when managers try to improve the work environment is that they don't communicate effectively with their staff, so they have no idea where to start.
In their minds, all that really needs improving is attitudes and they try to do some kind of quick fix, like adding a "casual Friday" or putting up motivational posters.
Those are really just insulting though, if there are serious problems with the workplace in question.
Talking to the people in the workplace, in a way that allows them to say what they really want to say, and then, most importantly, taking their advice is what will really change your work environment and staff motivation in a positive way. I'm not sure there's any other way to do it really.
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