Last month we talked about the importance of developing the right culture in an organization.  This month, the second in our series on culture, focuses on developing the right work environment.

Let’s start with this.  Picture a time when you’ve felt most connected with your work.  What did that feel like?  What was happening in that organization?

Typically the times people are the most engaged are when they enjoy their team, are doing meaningful work, and have a good work environment.  These are a necessary baseline before we can be inspired to be truly successful in our work.

We’ve all experienced work environments that were less than ideal and hopefully we’ve had some great experiences as well.  But what makes working somewhere a great experience?  Here are some key things:

  1. Feeling safe at work: When we ask about safety at work with our customers, we get a variety of responses ranging from the potential for work related injuries, to workplace violence, to economic safety, and freedom from harassing/bullying behavior.  Lots of different factors can make us feel vulnerable.  The bottom line is that people have to feel safe to be able to actively focus on their work.
  2. Comfortable work environment: Once we’re safe, then we have to be comfortable.  This doesn’t mean that it has to be a beautiful space with an espresso bar (although that’s not a bad thing if you can provide it).  It does mean that people are far more productive when they are comfortable.  Ever spent a long time in an uncomfortable chair?  In excessive heat or cold?  How about an open office that is so loud you can’t hear the person you’re trying to talk with on the phone?  We need to make certain that people are comfortable while working.
  3. Coworkers: Most of us are willing to tolerate a lot of other issues if we get to work with good people.  Working with others whom you trust, enjoy, and connect with can make all of the difference.  There’s a feeling of comfort knowing that you work with others who have your back.  Dealing with pettiness, gossip, and other challenges drains your energy and detracts from your productivity.
  4. Feeling valued: Organizations demonstrate that they value employees through a variety of ways.  Some of the most common include keeping employees in the communication loop, providing a fair level of compensation, and showing appreciation for doing good work.  We all like to be recognized when we do well.  Why skimp on such an easy thing to do?

There are a lot of factors that play into developing the right work environment and that can vary widely by person.  Be open and flexible to the needs of individual employees.

When was a time that you were most engaged at work?  What was happening that made it that way?  Let us know your story, we’d love to hear!

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