A happy employee works 12 percent better. This is not just a catchphrase, it’s a scientifically proven fact. However, if this is true, this means that the same goes the other way around. Even if you hire a skilled staff, provide them with enough resources, pay them adequately and equip them with all the necessary gear, they might still under-perform if the work environment is predominantly negative. Fortunately, there’s something you can do about this. Here are five essential tips on how your startup can overcome this trend of a negative work environment.
1.Healthy conflict is a good thing
The first thing you need understand is that avoiding a conflict may seem as something that provides you with a more harmonious environment, however, this is merely pushing things under the rug. Think about it, without conflict, nothing is ever really resolved. Of course, we’re not suggesting a violent or hostile conflict of any kind but merely a constructive and open argument about the mutual disagreement. Moreover, a conflict, a true conflict, is only possible amongst equals, which means that even a conflict between an employee and a member of the management sends a strong message of an egalitarian and respectful workplace.
For this to work, however, you need to ensure that all of it takes place in a controlled environment. For instance, sending conflicting parties to a dinner paid by a company is an elegant solution, seeing as how it keeps the negotiation far from the office and other people who should be working. In some cases, you might need to have a trained mediator involved. Therefore, getting in touch with an expert or even training some members of your own staff in peer mediation.
2.Rethink your hiring policy
Another thing you need to understand is that looking at other people’s performance isn’t the only thing worth considering. In fact, how do you decide who is a team player and who’s not? This is not something that can be solved by a simple delegation of tasks. You see, there are some people to whom one can only refer to as emotional vampires. Now, these people aren’t necessarily inefficient in their workplace. This means that, on a project, they can do more than their fair share of work, yet, with their attitude, they can make the rest of the team underperform. This alone is something that’s non-quantifiable, yet, incredibly important for improving the workplace environment.
The first problem is spotting this person because your employees might decide to keep the vow of silence out of fear of not being collegial enough or simply because they don’t want to be the office tattletale. Moreover, you don’t have a concrete reason for firing the person, seeing as how “you’re draining the morale of the entire office” or “you’re sucking the life out of your coworkers” isn’t a formal reason. We’re talking about standard reasons like unethical conduct, alcohol possession, disobedience, theft or poor performance. This is why you need to spot signs of this as early as possible.
3. Safety in the workplace
Not working in a safe environment can have a negative effect on the morale of your employees. Not only that but recurring accidents, especially if you fail to fix the problem afterward, may show a low regard of you, as an employer, for the safety of your staff. In order to avoid this, you need to invest in training, equipping and organizing your office. Another great idea would be to enforce a near-miss system and in this way boost the safety in the workplace. Finally, should the worst come to pass, you should also get in touch with some workers compensation solicitors. In this way, you’ll have the entire system sorted out.
4. Provide as much transparency as possible
Earlier on, we talked about good reasons to fire someone. However, transparency isn’t only good in these situations. For instance, when you want to promote someone or reject someone’s request for promotion (or a lateral movement) you need to give them a reason why. Moreover, you need to ensure the communication flows in both directions. By telling your employees what you expect of them, telling them what they’re doing right and wrong, you’ll create a much better aura of transparency in the office. Think about it, even if you have legitimate concerns about the performance of your employees, it’s probably mild compared to all the theories they’ll come up with once the paranoia kicks in.
As for the employee-to-management transparency, this is the best way for you to get some information on the overall attitude of your staff and their general disposition. This can allow you to change things before people start abandoning you. Aside from this, it can also help you resolve some problems as soon as they spawn because your employees won’t be reluctant to go to you right away.
5. Why so serious?
Of course, in order to get the most of the efficiency, you need to keep some discipline around the office. This, on the other hand, doesn’t mean that the place needs to look grim and serious all the time. There’s time for work and there’s time for fun and if you manage to squeeze both of these into a single time-frame, you’re bound to achieve great things. This is why some offices have casual Friday and similar trends. Still, if you have a better and more original idea to handle this, you should feel free to go for it. You might even want to encourage your employees to make their own suggestions. In some cases, you might even want to democratize this even more by putting it up for a vote.
At the very end, there is so much more you can do, however, these five factors should definitely be your first stop. Without fixing these five aspects of your business first, you would only be treating symptoms instead of focusing on the cause of the problem.
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