What makes someone wake up excited to go to work? It’s not as simple as compensation and perks. While a living wage is important and free lunch is nice – the real drivers behind employee retention like a positive work culture and healthy workplace relationships are much harder to pin down into actionable steps. With this difficulty in mind, we broke down these nebulous ideas of positivity into four areas that managers can start working on today.
1. Respect at All Levels
You can’t overstate the importance of respect in the workplace. People don’t want to feel like they are just a cog in the machine. They want to know that their contributions are valued. Showing respect to your employees is a big part of showing people that you appreciate them as individuals.
This isn’t just about showing respect to the individual – your employees want to see that you respect everyone. When people see one person being disrespected, it has an effect on the entire group. They start to think that if one person is treated poorly, that is only a matter of time before that treatment comes around to them. Treat people with equal levels of consideration and you’ll be laying the groundwork for improved workplace morale.
When it comes to demonstrating respect, it starts with the basics: don’t be mean, insulting or dismissive in your interactions with people. Be courteous and polite, and listen when people talk to you.
You should encourage your employees to share ideas and express their concerns. When an employee comes to you with a problem or an idea, don’t be dismissive – even if you don’t think it is as important as they do.
Try to be mindful of your body language and tone of voice in your interactions; your employees are not just listening to your words, they are also picking up on your overall demeanor.
2. Relationships Based on Trust
Trust is at the center of any healthy team environment. When people don’t trust their leaders, it creates negative feelings and affects employee performance. They might feel that management does not provide adequate support, or they might harbor suspicions about the motivations behind various initiatives.
This lack of trust can impact communication between team members and management. It can also affect the way that team members work together. In order to begin building trust, start by holding yourself accountable and solicit feedback often. When employees see that you harbor just as much responsibility for the successes (and failures) in the workplace, they’ll be more likely to trust you.
Building trust is not something that is going to happen overnight, but most employees will usually give you the benefit of the doubt until you prove to them that they shouldn’t trust you. Managers need to be open and honest with employees. If people can’t trust your word, they will never trust you.
When you make an agreement with an employee or say you are going to do something, you have to follow through. If you make a mistake, own up to it. Don’t take credit away from employees, and make sure to give credit when it is due.
Finally, don’t bad mouth one employee to the others. If word gets back to the individual, you certainly damaged any trust that existed in that relationship. Additionally, it is going to make the employees that hear this negative talk wonder about what you are saying behind their backs.
3. Immediate Supervisors Step Up
HR does have its role in managing employee relations, but it is up to the immediate supervisors to take control of the relationships that they form with employees. People want to have a good relationship with their management and leadership.
When it comes to forming a healthy relationship between supervisors and team members, it is about establishing trust and having good communication. Have regular conversations with employees that allow for two-way feedback. Ask questions that go beyond the practical aspects of the mission. For example, find out if they are having any problems in or outside of work, and if there is anything you can do to help.
4. Give Recognition
People want to be recognized for their achievements and their contributions. This is not just about giving someone a pat on the back for a job well done. Your employees want to know that you recognize their growth with the company. Your employees also want recognition that goes beyond the institutionally-driven initiatives. Just as employees want a good relationship with you as their leader, they want recognition that is an authentic show of appreciation from you as an individual.
You probably have employees that started out in a limited role, and as time went by, they grew into a larger role. They took on more responsibilities and they gained a mastery of the skills that they use on the job. When you acknowledge this growth, it adds value to the individual. They will more fully embrace their growing role in the business, and in turn, it will make them more valuable to the company.
About the author: Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.