As we discussed in the previous post, office culture has a tremendous impact on employee satisfaction, productivity and performance. Companies in every industry are beginning to recognize this, so they are offering generous benefits and costly perks in order to compensate for a demanding office climate. But throwing flextime and gym memberships at the problem generally misses the point. As we said, research shows that employees prefer a positive workplace to one that offers impressive benefits.
So what, as a boss, can you do to improve your office culture? The research points to four steps:
- Encourage your employees to be friends. Positive social connections at work are linked to employees getting sick less often, recovering twice as fast from surgeries, and less depression. These employees seem to learn faster, remember longer, display more mental acuity, and perform better on the job.
On the other hand, research has shown that not having friendships is a greater factor in dying young than smoking, drinking excessively or being obese.
- Be empathetic. A brain-imaging study found that when employees thought about an unkind boss, their brains were activated in areas associated with avoidance and negative emotion, but the opposite was true when they thought about an empathetic boss. Additional research has shown that employees are more likely to be resilient in challenging times when they work with a more compassionate leader.
- Go out of your way to help. Ever had a manager or mentor who helped you when he didn’t have to? Chances are, you’re still loyal to that person even years later. When leaders are fair and self-sacrificing inspire loyalty and commitment in their employees, employees also trust that their leader more, are more productive and see their leaders as more effective and charismatic. Their employees are also more likely to be helpful and friendly with co-workers, creating an all-around better workplace.
- Encourage people to talk to you—especially about their problems. Believing that your leader has your best interests at heart improves employee performance. Research shows that a culture in which leaders are inclusive, humble and encouraging when staff speak up or ask for help, this all leads to better learning and performance outcomes.
While there is plenty more to say about workplace culture, and we’ll do that in our next posts, but in the meantime, know this: The research is solid. A positive work climate boosts commitment, engagement, employee well-being and performance. Happier employees make for a more congenial workplace. And that leads to better customer service and improved client health outcomes and satisfaction.