Is your company fostering a positive workplace environment? No? Then leave that toxic workplace behind!
We have all been subject to bad workplace culture, but it’s a new decade and we have better standards about what we expect.
No longer are we willing to sit satisfied with companies which are good in theory, but terrible in application. Think haywire processes, no best practices in consideration, lack of safety, mentally draining… I could go on!
Here are six rules-of-thumb to determine whether you’re in the right place—in good company, if you will.
When ‘I’ becomes ‘We’
How often have you thought of your company’s products and services as something ‘the company’ do, as opposed to something ‘we’ do? Yeah, that’s what tips the balance in favour of the positive workplace you need!
A good workplace, first and foremost, nurtures the spirit of collaboration and teamwork. When an organisation does not offer the correct support to their employees, they will be unwilling to participate actively in the team.
Individuals who feel unwelcome and supported within a workspace will not adopt the cause of any product or service which the organisation endeavours toward.
One of the top priorities is how willing an organisation is to encourage you to integrate into their community.
By offering a physical and mental space which supports you as an individual and an employee, a company can turn a job you applied for into a career you love. Approaching a new job can be nerve-wracking, but a good company will convert you from ‘I’ mode to ‘we’ mode.
You will, in turn, adopt the company’s values and do your job to the best of your capacity to support the team, and deliver on your KPIs (key performance indicators).
When the company’s values align with your values
It is in our human nature to develop values and belief systems which become the foundation of everything we think and do.
Similarly, it is in the nature (and benefit!) of a company to have a well-developed set of values. These values reflect not only the thought process that goes into products/services, but also how employees engage with one-another in the workplace.
When your values match that of your workplace? Well, you’ve hit the jackpot! Protect your position at all costs!
Another factor in this is whether the company actually acts on the values. A company could proclaim to the world that trust and transparency are their grounding ideas. At the same time, they could also keep their employees out of loop and not reveal key financial or other top-down changes.
The disconnect between what the company shows the world and what it actually does behind closed doors, is detrimental when it comes to fostering a positive work culture.
Values without use case have, ironically, no value whatsoever.
When compassion leads to respect
Workplaces expect employees to enter the workplace with a pre-set sense of respect for hierarchies and work culture. But that is not how respect works.
Respect is not demanded; it is commanded.
When an organisation expects employees to respect higher-ups just for that sake, they are demanding respect for that position, not for themselves. That is toxic, since they believe they deserve the respect simply for having a superior designation.
A positive work culture will prioritise compassion over ego. This will ensure that employees feel comfortable and cared for in their workplace. Ruling by fear rather than compassion is the easiest way to create an unsatisfactory working environment.
This in turn will make employees less likely to want to stay with the company. Compassion is the basic foundation for ensuring longevity of employee terms.
When flexibility is empathic
‘Flexible’ has become a common buzzword for companies to throw around during hiring runs. But how many companies actually follow through?
Flexibility in itself is not the benefit; rather, it is the way in which it is implemented that makes a positive impact of employee morale.
When organisations use flexibility as a benefit, they should be looking to make their employees feel supported.
Are you employing a mother who might occasionally have to clock-in late? Do any of your employees have chronic illnesses? Does a promising employee need to work from home because they are a full-time caretaker for a family member?
In all of these situations, a company must utilise flexibility to tailor work profiles, timings, and location so that employees feel encouraged to do their best.
Whether or not we like it, employment is a quid pro quo situation. Employers need to give certain benefits which motivate employees to put in their absolute best.
When mental and physical health is a major concern
Another manner of support, which is often relegated to the realm of insurance deductions from salaries and stipulated leave days, is paying attention to mental and physical health.
Both affect more than the individual’s day-to-day life and functioning. They also impact their ability to work productively and give tasks their best.
Keeping a co-worker’s mental and physical health a prime concern will make them feel secure in their position, and in their choices.
No one should feel like popping pills and dragging themselves to office just because they are worried about being called out for taking a sick leave.
A positive workplace environment will prioritise your health even if you need a sabbatical to recover, or need to clock-in late because you’re in therapy.
When employee safety is prioritised
Finally coming to the most important factor of a good workplace: safety.
When employees feel mentally or physically unsafe in their workplace, it is not only the worst possible working environment. It is practically criminal to have employees cowering with fear, or looking to escape.
Employee safety has to be a top priority in any organisation. An employee who feels unsafe will not only seek to get out of the situation, but also work (or not work) out of fear.
Fear of others is the worst kind of motivator, because our response to it is rarely positive.
When we function on this kind of fear, it can take a huge toll on our mental health. It can cause an individual trauma, and make them feel trapped. This is more painful when we are forced to fear the hand that feeds us; in this case, the hand that pays our salary.
If you are tip-toeing around the office in fear of upsetting someone who can make your life difficult for the wrong reasons… you are definitely not in the right workplace.
These are our values for the kind of positive workplace environment that can make us feel safe, cherished, and supported. Are you in good company? What factors do you believe make for a positive workspace?