When employees are happier, businesses do better. From retention to innovation, customer service to costly mistakes, improved employee morale means an improved bottom line. Better morale also means fewer instances of workplace conflict which can slow down productivity, increase stress and tension, and lead to expensive distractions among employees. So if happy employees create better business outcomes, decrease conflict, and save the company time and money, you might be asking yourself: what is the best way to maintain a happy work environment? And if you’re leading a team or managing an organization of people, you’d be right on the money to ask that question.
What is the Best Way to Maintain a Happy Work Environment?
Cultivating a company culture that lessens the prevalence of errors, turnover, and conflict starts with leadership. There are many behaviors people in leadership positions can model from the top in order to actively engage that desired culture. Some of those behaviors include:
Lead with Appreciation
The best leaders don’t hoard the power and admiration for themselves. Instead they recognize the sacrifices and hard work of those putting in the long hours and frustrating meeting times. Good leaders also know that not everyone receives appreciation the same way, so while some employees may prefer to receive their kudos via public praise, others may find that to be a bit torturous and would prefer a quiet pat on the back. Knowing your employees’ individual appreciation styles will not only motivate them to do their jobs well but will motivate them to be encouraging of each other, as well, creating positive momentum and a supportive work environment.
Nurture Open Feedback
Communication should be open, respectful, and actionable. So when leaders provide feedback to employees, it should be with the intention to nurture growth. The same should be said for when leaders receive feedback from employees, except leadership has a bit more responsibility to model this process. By taking action on feedback provided by employees, leadership can prove a number of things, including that the team can trust those at the top. Trust can create a trickle-down effect that will lead others to act on the feedback they receive, creating a system in which people are more accountable to one another. In this system, communication that may otherwise trigger conflict can be better received and doesn’t feel as threatening or upsetting. Don’t be shy about calling in support if you need it. Communication skills training can help get everyone on the same page around communication expectations.
Provide Proactive Tools
If trying to avoid organizational conflict altogether, it could be worth naming that goal and providing your team with the tools to remain proactive about it. Because let’s face it – in stressful environments where personalities vary, conflict is essentially inevitable. So giving your team access to de-escalation skills, communication techniques, and general education on conflict resolution can actually be one of the most obvious answers to what is the best way to maintain a happy work environment. In addition to having effective every day skills to reduce frustration around communication and stress, being armed with skills can reduce anxiety because even if something did happen, your employees would be prepared.
Make the Work Fulfilling
People will give more care and attention to their work if they have buy-in, passion, or a good reason for what they’re doing. So even if the task at hand doesn’t seem very purposeful, let your team know how their role fits in to the bigger picture. How does this team serve as a function to the bigger picture? How would the system falter without them? By giving your team a sense of how they fit into the process, they can feel a sense of value they may otherwise feel is lost and with that regained value can also come confidence, care, and meaning. When our jobs have meaning, we are more likely to find happiness in doing them.
Actually Support Work/Life Balance
When some employers discuss work/life balance, they’re actually on the brink of causing more harm than good. If you discuss work/life balance but don’t have any systems in place to actively support your employees enacting a work/life balance, you might just be making them feel worse. Happy employees need paid time off from work. They need access to resources that can help with childcare and mental health, and they need to work in an environment that doesn’t low-key praise people who work past their paid shift ends and who miss their kid’s soccer game for the meeting or punish people for not coming in on the weekends or answering emails on vacation. Be mindful of how your company culture handles those boundaries. Is your messaging in line with how you treat people in real time? Because if not, there may be stressors there that you’re not noticing but your employees are feeling.
While in pursuit of the best way to maintain a happy work environment, you’ll want to ensure you consider all possible angles of your teams’ wants and needs. Conflict professionals have experience and expertise that can help you avoid costly mistakes. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.