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A healthy workplace environment plays a bigger role than we think in a company’s success. It impacts employee motivation, happiness and productivity. Financially, it affects the bottom line of the company as it leads to increased sales, reduces costs related to absenteeism and attrition rate, workers’ compensation, and medical claims. A great company culture keeps employee morale high, retains the best employees and happy workers are also more likely to stick around.


But before we talk further about creating a healthy work environment, let’s see what we understand by a healthy work culture and an unhealthy one.

A work culture is termed good when the employees have clarity of role, common goals and feel appreciated. In such an environment team members cooperate, support one another and share experiences. They are excited to work as a team and produce great results. This is beneficial to the company as a strong organizational culture is necessary to build employee trust and customer loyalty.


In an opposite environment, team members want to shine and stand out as an individual. This means non-cooperation, unhealthy competitiveness and one-upmanship. Such a work culture breeds unhappiness, distrust and a less productive workplace. Once an employee joins, he or she will find it difficult to fit in or stick around for long without getting affected. Not only this, it also undeniably tarnishes the image of the company.


So let’s dig a little deeper. Why would employees want to stand out and be one-up than the others? Because other than personal glory, they’re definitely getting something out of it. And what could that be?


Recognition from the top. This means, the top-most management indirectly plays a significant role in how a team functions within. In a big organization the team size and number is high so the top management doesn’t get the time to get involved with individual members, unless there’s a specific work requirement. Also there are clearly laid-out policies, practices and company culture which everyone follows. But not so in small companies. In small set ups, this direct involvement becomes the major pitfall to creating a healthy work culture.


So what happens? One of the major problems in a one-man show is that employees are eager to please the big boss and derive the benefits of being in his good books. And the boss, desiring to know each and everything that’s happening in his company, will have employees bending over backwards to be the informer, focusing more on doing that than the job they’ve been hired for. The result is an unhealthy work culture. Lending an ear to employees prone to back-biting, no matter how subtle, will only prove detrimental for the company’s health.



Now let’s take a look at some steps that can create a healthy work culture and pitfalls to avoid, especially in smaller organizations.


  • Clearly defined work areas

Unambiguous KRAs ensure every player in a company knows their primary deliverables. This is imperative for any company to thrive. It sets the platform for team coordination and harmony. In contrast, doling out unrelated, multiple set of tasks may give the management the feeling that it’s getting the most out of an employee, but it only creates confusion, misplaced priorities and rifts. It affects quality of delivery and adversely impacts the overall business.

  • Leaders to take ownership

The onus of overall business growth and success lies ultimately with the leader. Aware and responsible CEOs, Directors and topmost position holders have to have the courage to own whatever the outcome, not shy away from challenges and unpleasant situations. If they however, find people and circumstances to blame things on, then the control clearly doesn’t lie with them. They unwittingly set a wrong example for others, showing them how to skirt accountability.


  • Open to feedback

While praise boosts our ego, criticism bursts our bubble and is rarely seen as constructive. Being open to feedback means the ability to take criticism in the right spirit without taking it personally. What the top management needs to realize is that when employees or business associates complain or criticize, it’s an opportunity to improve and grow. When you stall such feedback, you stop inputs for further growth. People will simply stop caring to come forth with feedback and the management may end up like an ostrich with its head in the sand, believing everything is hunky-dory.


  • Stay unbiased

Comment objectively on employees’ work, if you have to. Judge performance, not personalities in order to build a healthy team balance. Showering undue praise to an employee demotivates the others. Competitiveness and jealousies are bound to creep in and the enthusiasm to work will quietly leave through the backdoor. Therefore, clear, simple and fair employee policies should be applied to all, regardless of position or seniority.


  • Respect boundaries

Each individual has a personal space. Boundaries of time, space and work need to be respected. If as a top boss you’re always towering on employees, whether physically or virtually, it betrays a sense of insecurity, making people either avoid you or take advantage by massaging your ego. Similarly, eating into employees’ off-work hours regularly is unhealthy, belies inefficiency and is counter-productive.


  • Have a clear organizational structure

Let people know who their reporting managers are. All matters should be discussed with them to begin with. A leader should be wary of direct escalation and discourage it in order to create a healthy work environment.


  • Realistic expectations

Fantasizing or expecting results too soon is another pitfall to avoid. Be it a process or a person, change doesn’t happen overnight. If it does, know that it’ll vanish perhaps just as soon. So treat your business like a baby. Nurture it, provide whatever you can and have the patience to watch it grow over time.


  • Fair remuneration

Last but not the least, let the financial compensation be fair. Before you determine salaries, take into cognizance the person’s capability, educational background and experience. An underpaid employee will have the constant feeling of unfair compensation and will thus always be on the look-out for better opportunities, or worse, search for other ways to fill the gap. If you can’t pay employees their due, be prepared for thefts, missing assets, absent employees and inferior work quality.


Other than these, there are several little things that matter. For example, having a neat, clean office following safety standards impacts employee morale. A pleasant and healthy workspace is something employees look forward to coming to. Similarly, caring gestures with respect to food and beverage go a long way in boosting employee positivity and health. Or giving your team a relaxed lunch break, encouraging them to take a quick 5-minute break from their desk helps relieve muscle fatigue and restores thinking capacity. On the other hand, being indifferent towards these little aspects may save you a few pennies, but will show employees your regard for them, or the lack of it.


As a final word, there are many ways to create a healthy work culture, but the underlying principle we can say remains more or less the same, and that is, care and respect for one another as we align towards common goals. If this is clear, all else works out fine!

By Gurjeet Singh 0 comment


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