Most of us are familiar with stories of some of the Great Places to Work – the Googles of the world, with their complimentary food courts, massage and foosball tables. The hope is that these extra perks will help make them a great place to work. And as a result, they are more likely to attract and keep talented employees who will be more motivated to be innovative and productive.
I have no problem with these sorts of initiatives. When used in conjunction with intrinsic motivators I am sure they help create a more fun and presumably more productive organization. However, the reality is that most of our workplaces do not have the ability or even finances to implement these sorts of programs.
Therefore, we are left to use other non-financial rewards to help make our organizations great places to work. Even if “toys” and free gourmet food is an option for your organization, I have found that focusing on the following seven items is essential to creating a great work environment.
1. Have a clear purpose.
Employees are inspired when they work in an organization that has a meaningful purpose that they believe in. I believe it is essential to know what your purpose is, and more importantly that leaders frequently communicate that purpose to their employees.
2. Focus on building meaningful connections.
When employees like who they work with and for, they have increased levels of not only personal satisfaction, but also employee engagement. In my personal experience as an employee working for an organization, I learnt early on in my career that having separate lunch-room for staff and managers does not help build workplace connection.
3. Resolve conflict before it becomes toxic.
Very few things sour a workplace more than high levels of toxic conflict that is poorly managed. It is crucial to be vigilant about protecting the health of the organization and to develop processes for managing low levels of conflict before it reaches a point where relationships become irreparable.
4. Provide opportunities for meaningful and challenging work.
Employees desire to work on projects that inspire them and allow them to grow. Even when mundane or basic tasks need to be completed, it is important to ensure that each employee has some areas of their work where they can be challenged.
5. Develop a peak performance environment.
Being around other talented individuals motivates and inspires others to also improve performance. By valuing peak performance and not tolerating mediocrity, an environment is created for both employees and the organization to excel.
6. Foster teamwork.
Most of the meaningful and important things accomplished as an organization are not done individually, but within the context of a team. I have found that it is vital to create strong teams and collaborative processes that employees want to be a part of.
7. Leadership matters.
Study after study shows that the relationship with our direct manager matters more to engagement and productivity than most other things. Creating a great place to work begins with having leadership that is caring, responsive and intentional.
While most of us do not have the ability to offer free food or even a foosball table, all of our organizations can work on these seven key areas that are essential for all great places of work to have.
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