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Ian Ferguson: Building The Right Workplace Culture

No matter the industry or profession, in today’s fast-paced corporate environment we undoubtedly spend the majority of our waking week-day hours at work. A lot of us spend more time with our colleagues than with our own families, and during some weeks the office feels more like our home. The environment, feel and culture of the workplace thus becomes vitally important to the emotional and physical health of the employee.

It has been well-documented that creativity, productivity and happiness go up when stress levels decrease. Every employee, then, dreams of working in a nurturing and caring environment where the culture is supportive and progressive.

Here, then, are several tips for companies looking to improve the existing work culture within their organisations.

1. Be intentional in letting people know they are valued and appreciated. Begin with gratitude, and each day seek to validate and affirm the gifts and talents you have on the team. Having employees who are “emotionally and psychologically attached to their work and workplace” is crucial to creating positive employee relationships and a successful bottom line.

2. Create a safe environment for your employees. There is nothing more damaging than toxicity in a professional environment. It stifles new ideas and inhibits collaboration. Creating a safe work environment means eliminating negative personalities and respecting every idea, whether it is from an intern or a tenured senior team member. Lead with honesty, integrity and vulnerability to help your employees feel safe.

3. View every problem in the workplace as an opportunity to grow and get better. Whatever you are experiencing is not an issue; it is a chance to reflect, analyse and evaluate so that next time you will do better. Laugh at your hiccups, do not take everything so seriously and find humor in every situation. Making your team smile by bringing perspective to the situation can quickly lighten a very emotionally charged room.

4. Establish and communicate the “North Star” you expect your team members to look to each day. Remind them of the powerful corporate goals and vision that each of them are connected to, and how vital they are in accomplishing it.

5. Check in often and be available to your staff. Frequent, informal contacts with managers allow employees to understand how their daily work is linked to your company’s goals. Employees who talk about their goals and successes with their manager at least every six months are almost three times more likely than other workers to feel engaged and motivated in their job. Be available. This means more than just being there when your employees have questions, problems or concerns. When communicating with employees, make sure they feel heard by clarifying and rephrasing what they say to make certain that you really understand and hear them. Empathise with them, and let them know that you appreciate their frustrations and will support them in overcoming work-related problems.

• NB: Ian R Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organsations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at iferguson@bahamas.com.

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