Strategies for Maintaining a Positive and Happy Workplace While also Creating and Sustaining a High Performance Culture.
A positive and happy workplace can still perform at a high level
As any Psychologist or HR professional will tell you, happy people are more productive; happy people result in less turnover; happy people generate higher client satisfaction scores that, obviously, translate into greater customer retention and increased revenue.
If the rationale above isn’t reason enough to address inappropriate conduct and unprofessional behavior in the workplace, employment-related lawsuits such as workplace harassment, the creation of a hostile work environment, as well as unfair labor practices, have increased by more than 400% in the past decade; therefore, keeping people happy not only makes good business sense, however, it improves the bottom line and insulates the organization from potential liability. Moreover, recent surveys have proven that if you want happy customers, you need happy employees.
How do you maintain a positive workforce? First, you need to hire positive people. During this Consultants twenty-five year career, it’s evident that you simply can’t make all workers happy people. The fact is some employees are just unhappy people – whether it’s a miserable marriage, a rotten childhood or feeling trapped in a dead end job with few marketable skills – they’re not going to change their behavior and find satisfaction with their job or work environment.
With some of these types of people, there might be a clinical reason for their unhappiness such as depression and/or substance abuse. Although, that’s not to say that these people can’t change. If you employ unhappy people that are suffering from some sort of personal problem or clinical issue and possess the desire to “change” (which means recognizing, owning and accepting the fact that their attitude and behavior is having a detrimental impact on their career and job stability) your company’s employee assistance program (EAP) is your greatest resource. Over the years, this Consultant has successfully partnered with an international provider of EAP services that’s based here in San Diego; for more information: www.acieap.com
While some unhappy people may not choose to visit a Counselor on their own, if they are encouraged and, in some cases, mandated to meet with an EAP Counselor then they might just participate and see what a difference it can have in their life; however, there’s a fairly large number of unhappy people that simply don’t want to change their behavior; their unhappiness is their “drug of choice” and they need it (and the drama it creates) in their life. With these people, there’s nothing you or anyone else can do but to try and avoid them altogether. One method that can shed light on a candidate’s disposition or attitude would be to craft various probing behavioral based questions that are asked of each candidate applying for a job i.e. what aspects of your previous job did you dislike or not enjoy? If you catch them off-guard, you might just get an honest response and a list of things that made them unhappy with their last employer.
Creating a positive and happy workplace
At the same time, however, that’s not to say that there aren’t certain tried and true initiatives – and proven management best practices – that any organization committed to creating a positive should employ. They include the following eleven points:
- Adoption and incorporation of a Code of Professional Conduct that ALL employees are held accountable to. Some companies may choose to reinforce their Code of Conduct with other “people principles” including a Guiding Principles Statement and/or highlighting the term “respect” within in the organization’s mission, vision and/or values statement.
- Model the appropriate behaviors yourself. As a business owner or manager, it is easy to get tired and overwhelmed. Be sure that you are not the “Negative Nancy” of the office. If you find that you are, purchase a copy of “Learned Optimism” by Martin Seligman, you will love it. Then pass it on to your employees.
- Start a recognition program and have fun with it. The point is to reward and reinforce those qualities that make your workplace a great place to be. These types of programs do not have to be costly; by simply purchasing things like $20 gift certificates or movie tickets and then budget to hand out ten a month you’ll change perceptions on how the company treats their people.
- Ensure that you are paying your staff members competitively. If you pay a competitive wage and include a well-designed incentive-based plan with specific productivity goals you’ll do more to add to your bottom line then you ever will by paying someone $2.00 less than the going rate because you’ll improve overall productivity and reduce your turnover, as well as the time it takes to get a new person up and running. The penny wise pound foolish approach will also have a detrimental impact on customer satisfaction.
- Do a culture walk-through each day. Walk into your offices as though you have never been there before… see it through the eyes of a new customer or employee. What do you hear? What do you see? Is their chaos and clutter? Are the pictures on the walls upbeat and motivational? You will be surprised by what you find and how a few small changes could boost morale.
- Develop your first line managers to become leaders. The primary role of a supervisor or manager is one of “managing” tasks and people while leaders take their job to the next level by leading people with exceptional coaching and mentoring skills, as well as by earning and maintaining the respect, integrity and credibility of his/her peers, supervisors and subordinates by consistently “walking the talk.”
- Stay upbeat with some tunes. Upbeat music helps to lift spirits. Challenge the staff to develop the “Happiest” of happy music cd’s, a collection of tunes that will keep people smiling and whistling while they work. They will love to hear their creation played in the office.
- Employ an open door policy but be certain that it includes a first point of contact approach. Thus, rather than an employee going to their bosses boss or the President of the company BEFORE giving their direct supervisor an opportunity to address their concern or problem, you’ll help to establish more trust in the supervisor/subordinate relationship. Meanwhile, hold managers accountable to being accessible to their direct reports. You may think that you don’t have the time to listen to every employees concerns, venting, or ideas. But trust me; you don’t have the time not to. If an employee can not talk to you about an issue (and get it resolved) they will be talking to others about it or brooding over it for days. Nip it in the bud, let them vent it and move on to a more productive activity.
- Invest in effective team-building exercises; whether it’s a group outing or a 90-minute non-work related activity such as a DISC or Meyers-Briggs exercise, your employees will learn more about their peers as well as themselves. In addition, these types of exercises demonstrate that you (the employer) are investing in their personal development as well.
- Modify your performance standards (and performance appraisal tools) to include ratings that evaluate not only “what” the incumbent delivered on (or performed) but also on “how” they conducted themselves in the workplace while executing on the “what”. We’ve all worked with high achieving performers that we’re extremely obnoxious and even untrustworthy, as well as their counterparts, the women that makes cookies, brownies and “mothers” everyone as if they were her own; however, when it comes to meeting productivity standards and getting the job done they are unable to execute on their goals on a consistent basis. For additional information on this practice, check out a previous blog entitled: Performance Appraisal Systems: The Best Practices for Creating & Maintaining a High-Performance Culture (see the link below). http://sandiego.jobing.com/blog_post.asp?post=8230
- Lastly, consider The Fish Philosophy: For a total transformation of your work environment that’s requires total and complete buy-in from the executives/leader’s of the organization, check out the Fish Philosophy at www.fishphilosophy.com
If you’re interested in learning more about any of the issues and/or recommendations referenced in this blog, don’t hesitate to contact this Author at: email@example.com or www.orgdev-solutions.com
Mike Russell is a seasoned professional with three decades of experience in the fields of HR and OD. In addition to having a career trajectory of HR Generalist to a VP within ten years, Mike also has a long and successful background as a Consultant/Business Partner to CEO’s, Presidents and Executive Directors in both the private and non-profit communities across a wide spectrum of industries.
As the sole-proprietor and owner of Organizational Development Solutions (ODS), Mike partners with business leaders committed to insulating their organization(s) from potential liability, increasing organizational effectiveness and adding shareholder value.
Call me and let’s discuss: 773-807-8437