No matter where we rank in a business--from the founder to the newest team member--we all want the same thing: to do what we love in a supportive environment. In fact, we crave it. When we hear of terrific companies that respect and appreciate employees, we want to work there, too. However, the Harvard Business Review reports that only 20% of employees feel truly engaged when they're at work.
Now that you're an entrepreneur, starting your own endeavor, you want to know how to build a great workplace that will attract the talent and energy you envision. You know you have a fabulous product or service. And you know people do a better job when they feel satisfied and appreciated. The question is: How to make it happen?
Experts agree that it's not easy to create a perfect atmosphere...but it's worth the effort. Here are ten ways to keep you on track for a great workplace:
- Pay a fair wage. Nothing drains enthusiasm like not being able to afford to buy gas or pay for child care. When employees are worried about how to come up with rent money, they can't be totally on board.
- No gossip allowed. This is a tall order, but a necessary one. When people disagree, there should be an expectation that they meet and resolve their differences. Period.
- Do more than make money. Nothing wrong with profits! But people want to do important work, so stress the mission and how your company is making a difference.
- Give clear expectations. Each person should know what his or her job entails. Once he or she understands what success looks like for the position, let go. Adults hate to be micro-managed.
- Offer opportunities. Every position has potential. People love to contribute, so encourage ideas and allow time for staff to work on them. Your business may not be able to offer promotions, but can reward for creative solutions.
- Let them buy-in. If you can do a form of profit-sharing or stock options, you're letting employees invest in their own hard work. If you're not there yet, consider a bonus based on profits.
- Affordable snacks. Free coffee and tea is super, and costs little. If you have a vending machine, make the prices enough to cover the cost of the food and vending expenses. Don't try to make money off your staff. And stock health items!
- Encourage "Yes/And" discussions. A positive workplace allows for a range of opinions. Saying "Yes/And" instead of "Yes/But" tells people that it's okay to respectfully disagree. When people feel safe to express themselves, creativity flows.
- Give feedback and thanks. From top down, we all like to know we're appreciated. Avoid the "no news is good news" method of communication. Tell people when they've done a good job, and encourage them to do the same.
- Have fun! Nothing is better than humor and laughter. Have contests, theme days, pot lucks, and celebrations. Offsite social events help team members bond and become friends.
When you create a workplace that people enjoy coming to, and a company culture that makes them feel safe and satisfied, you will be able to recruit top staff, and keep them. You will have the ultimate sign of success: a waiting list of future employees.
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