How to create a healthy workplace environment

The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.” Tom Peters

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A healthy workplace environment is one where employees thrive in their tasks or projects and feel content while remaining physically and mentally healthy. Their productivity is high and they feel supported, which leads to reduced absenteeism, illness, reduced conflict, and low turnover. A healthy working environment is one in which there are no harmful circumstances that can cause injury and illness, but an abundance of health and wellness-promoting environment.

Why workplace environment is important?

A healthy work environment improves employee health and productivity. Healthy employees have more energy and endurance, and they are more able to perform better at their tasks. Also, a healthy working environment may contribute to happiness across the organization. A healthy workplace environment is ideal for sustaining a positive result in stressful situations. 

Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.” by Henry Ford,

How the workplace environment affects your health?

Work is generally good for mental health but a negative working environment can lead to both physical and mental health problems in employees. Depression and anxiety are estimated to cost the global economy are US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity which is mind-boggling. Employees who face high stress and conflicting roles are likely to report huge psychological distress that places them at higher risk of depression and anxiety disorders that reduces productivity. So a positive work environment is very important for the health of employees. 

What are examples of a good work environment?

People generally enjoy coming to work when they feel appreciated, acknowledged, and rewarded for their work. When they are free from fear, domination, bullying, sexual harassment, and intimidation they give their 100%. A positive work environment boosts their creativity, productivity, and they can think outside the box to flourish.

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What are common workplace issues?

Taking care of common workplace issues not only improves productivity but also helps retain valuable talent. If you suspect your employees’ productivity is becoming an issue, here are some ways to understand and mitigate it.

  1. Interpersonal conflict. 

Interpersonal conflict refers to any type of dispute involving two or more people. In the workplace, it happens due to an employee or group of employees who interferes with another person’s attempts at achieving goals or completing a task. Examples of interpersonal conflicts also include two employees fighting over who gets a promotion.

In the workplace, important conflicts also occur in the form of 

Policy conflicts. Policy conflicts are disputes about how to manage a situation that affects 2 or multiple parties. 

Value Conflicts. A value conflict occurs when employees hold strong personal beliefs that are in disagreement with the institution’s organization’s values.

Ego Conflicts. One of the most frustrating conflicts is ego conflict. In an ego conflict, everything is taken personally. The issue becomes “win-loose”  and thus does not allow conflicts to be resolved in a spirited manner.

How to manage interpersonal conflict

  • Accept it as a part normal business conflict.
  • Become a calming agent. 
  • Listen it carefully. 
  • Analyze the conflicts to find the root cause of it. 
  • Always use neutral language to avoid bias. 
  • Separate the person from the problem. 
  • Always work for the team. 
  • Always be prepared to agree to disagree.
  1. Communication issues. Communication problems refer to misunderstandings while talking or interpreting. This is a common form of issue that occurs frequently in any relationships be it family members, spouses, coworkers, and others.

Communication problems can be avoided by:

  • Communicating in non ambiguous manner regardless of time and place.
  • Communicating in language other employee understands.
  • Communicating in right tone and manner.
  • Using body language to make it more clear. 
  • Communicating non verbally if needed like written or other form of communication based on situation.
  • Repeating if necessary.
  • Checking that the person has understood what you intend to communicate. 
  1. Gossip. Workplace gossip is a form of informal communication among employees that is focused on the private, personal and sensitive affairs of other employees like superior or collegues. Gossip can have a real negative effect in work environment that can damage the work relationship and environment. Gossip is only a small part of the office politics game while no office is immune to politics. There will be many instances where you will observe manipulation, backstabbing, and struggle for power.

Use the following strategies to deal with office gossip.

  • Understand the difference between valid information and gossip. A friendly co-worker is perfectly within his or her right to give talk about other colleague if it’s professional and within limits. 
  • Nip it in the bud. As soon as talks become unprofessional, simply say, “I’m sorry,but I really don’t feel comfortable talking about colleagues in this way.”
  • Change the subject. Instead of letting the conversation continue in a gossipy way, change the subject back to work-related matters.
  • Confront bad-mouthing people. If someone is spreading malicious gossip like a colleague isn’t good at his job, tell him or her that it’s up to your supervisor to judge performance.
  • Bullying. Workplace bullying is a persistent pattern of mistreatment from others. It is aggressive goal-directed behavior that harms another person. Bullying is also a complex social phenomenon that crosses age, ethnicity, and national boundaries.
  • Harassment. Harassment is an unwelcomed verbal or physical behavior that is based on employee’s race, color, religion, sex ,political belief’s, disability, criminal history,  gender/gender identity, nationality, age.

Here are the Six Ways To Prevent Workplace Harassment:

  • Build a healthy work culture to avoid harassment. 
  • Give training about the harassment to make employee more informed.
  • Handle complaint in a fair and respectful way. 
  • Use authenticity when accusations go public.
  • Discrimination. Discrimination is the unfair or prejudicial treatment of employee on characteristics such as race, gender, age, or sexual orientation.
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You prevent discrimination in the workplace by

  • Respectful of cultural and racial differences.
  • Professional in conduct and speech.
  • Workplace not allowing  to initiate, participate discrimination.
  • Avoid race-based or culturally offensive humor or pranks.
  • Low motivation and job satisfaction. Employees who are self-motivated are more likely to get job satisfaction. Motivation may not be a product of job satisfaction, but it can also be its cause. Low motivation also cause higher employee turnover, lower levels of engagement that diminishes productivity that can lead to a toxic work environment

Improving employee motivation 

  • Set clear targets
  • Lead with vision.
  • Recognise and reward great work. 
  • Give your team freedom. 
  • Create a good work culture
  • Offer impressive benefits.
  • Encourage teamwork.
  • Performance issues. All performance related problems occurs due to low-quality output causing failure. Staying busy by focusing on the wrong tasks or prioritizing emails over the more important aspects of work may offer a sense of accomplishment, but they don’t move the organization forward.

Following are ways to correct workplace performance issues include.

  1. Appropriate training.  Training enhance employee skills, job related tools usage, boost employee productivity, reduce employee turnover, and improve company culture. 
  2. Two-way communication.  Two-way communication, both employee and team or supervisor  listen to each other, gather information, and want to work together to achieve goal. 
  3. Job-related accountability.  Accountability in the workplace means that employees are in charge  for their actions, behaviors, performance, and decisions.
  4. Effective employee recognition. Awards and recognition are a tools that reinforces and rewards the most important results that employees create for your business. 
  5. Clear-cut job descriptions. You need to provide applicants with solid job descriptions to ensure they understand exactly what will be expected of them. The clarity in a job description puts employees on the same page as you and aligns them with organization’s goals.

Ways to create a positive work environment?

  • Be a strong leader. Motivate employees, mentor their growth and guide them toward success.
  • Mistakes happen. Don’t emphasize mistake since it happens but encourage employees to learn from it.
  • Be transparent. Be transparent while communicating so that there is environment of trust.
  • Encourage innovation. Innovation brings better quality of work and improve employees sense of worth. Innovation is key to success.  
  • Don’t micromanage. Micromanagement creates  stressful working environment. Which in turn may lead to health issues. It may also cause employee demotivation, possibly an increase in staff turnover, resulting in any learned knowledge getting lost to the competition. 
  • Emphasize collaboration. Working collaboratively, instead of individually, helps in productivity and gives employees a sense of achievement. Collaboration also facilitate brainstorm ideas to solve an existing problem or improve quality.
  • Abandon the status quo.  It means that you identify new and better ways of doing things for your project or organization. By abandoning status quo you add value, and that’s the very important for success.
  • See the big picture. Understanding how to see the big picture can help you prioritize tasks, set better goals and improve quality of work. By seeing big picture you can make decisions that benefits you in long-term, which can help you advance in your career.
  • Protect employees mental health. Keeping yourself available for support and providing clear cut goals for employee can help employee work better. Employee mental health can be protected by giving stimulation not stress. Giving appropriate training and providing tools to complete the task can reduce work related stress.
  • Host company events. Hosting appropriate company events that help employees bond is very important so that communication between employees becomes good. Conferences, awards and incentive  event is good for improving work environment. 
  • Healthy Body = A Healthy Mind. We all know healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Encouraging  employees to engage in physical fitness and a balanced diet during  time in office will improve both physical and mental health that improves productivity.
  • Create Strong Lines of Communication. Establish and manage the various lines of communication within a business early on so that all employess and managers understand who they should contact. Lines of communication examples include a manager communicating to an employee and an employee to a customer. 
  • Promote diversity. Educate Managers on the Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace. Create More Inclusive Workplace Policies, Communicate clearly and create employee-led task forces.
  • Provide opportunities for career development. The main way to allow growth of employee is to find ways to improve their skills and applicable knowledge. You can do this by providing responsibilities and experiences. The key to career growth is being open to making mistakes while learning from them. 
  • Encourage openness and creative thinking. Employees need freedom and flexibility in how work is done. Offer the space and tools for knowledge sharing.  Environment should also support employees to take creative risk-taking.
  • Show appreciation. It’s important to feel appreciated at work. E.g. Express your gratitude on social media, Delegate a team award etc. Showing appreciation  makes people feel valued and drives them to do their best.
  • Make the workspace functional. The productive workspace is a space in which employess feel comfortable and confident. Employees workspace should provide privacy, personality, hospitality, flexibility. Workspace also should have  sitting desks and standing desks, napping areas and play areas.

By John Gurung

A former software developer who is now a blogging enthusiast. A true digital nomad.

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