With employee turnover on the rise and the emergence of an increasingly competitive job market – a time referred to by many as the “Great Resignation” – a positive workplace culture can make all the difference for employers. While a casual dress code and the occasional pizza party may be great, an attractive and healthy workplace culture needs more.
Creating a Community
Creating and maintaining a sense of community in the workplace is especially important following the social isolation and loneliness that many felt during the Covid-19 pandemic. A strong workplace community, giving employees a sense of value and purpose, promotes job satisfaction and employee retention.
There are multiple ways to build a workplace community:
- Facilitate team-building activities and social events outside of work
- Recognize employee accomplishments
- Consider establishing a mentorship program
- Don’t ditch the regular team meetings for email updates
- Encourage collaborative decision-making, and
- When working on a hybrid model, connect in the same way with remote employees.
Employees spend a great deal of their time at work, and it is more important than ever for employers to ensure their employees are happy. Happy employees are not only more productive, but are often healthier, more innovative, and are more likely to remain loyal to their employer.
While recognition and encouragement can go a long way, what many employees really want is to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Many employees struggle to allocate this time on their own, so this balance is best facilitated with employer encouragement.
Employers can promote work-life balance by:
- Discouraging work communication outside of work hours
- Allowing flexible overtime when necessary
- Focusing on outcome quality and productivity rather than the input of hours,
- Encouraging managers to lead by example in being the best “bosses” they can be, and
- Exemplifying a work-life balance.
Flexible working arrangements can also give employers a competitive edge in employee recruiting and retention. For some employers, this may mean re-envisioning the workweek. Some creative ways that employers are doing this includes:
- Allowing Employees to Make their Own Schedules. This flexibility is not easy for many employers to implement. It works best where there is a project environment and employees do not need to be tied to core hours due to client or customer needs. This flexibility gives employees independence to work the hours they feel they are most productive, the ability to pick their children up from school, or the opportunity to schedule a doctor’s visit during normal business hours.
- Implementing a Four-Day Workweek. While this sounds radical, and it is not for everyone, this concept is growing in popularity and advocates suggest that this arrangement will provide employees time to prioritize their mental health and spend time with their families, and is more conducive to productivity on workdays. Some employers have compressed hours by shifting their schedules to include four longer days; others have simply dropped the fifth day and reduced weekly hours. Additional benefits of the four-day workweek for employers may also include lower utilities costs and fewer used sick days.
With burnout being among the leadings reasons that employees are leaving their jobs, it is important for employers to recognize this and to implement changes to their work culture to promote the well-being of their employees.
To start, employers need to foster an environment where their employees can discuss their mental health. To break the stigma of mental illness and create a framework for positive mental health, Human Resources and/or managers need to be attuned to:
- Identifying the signs of poor mental health and common stressors among employees
- Avoiding overworking employees, and
- Building healthy rapport with employees.
Employees are most productive when they are in good mental health, so employers should make sure that their employees have adequate mental health resources available to them. This may include ensuring that their health insurance plans present good coverage for mental and behavior health services.
Employers may also consider establishing an employee assistance program (EAP). An EAP helps in multiple areas: stress management, domestic violence, grief counseling, substance abuse, and psychological disorders.
A positive work culture promotes employee retention and recruiting. Progressive employers recognize that in today’s dynamic workplace they need to facilitate their employees’ contributions by creating a workplace community, cultivating happiness, and employing systems to energize and win the loyalty of their employees.