You might be thinking, “I don’t really care if everybody has a positive attitude. I just want them to get their work done.” As a business owner that needs to make sure your product gets made and sold consistently and efficiently, you’re probably not alone in having that sentiment, but that would be a pretty major oversight.
The attitude and well-being of your employees is more important than you think because people who have a positive and proactive approach to their work actually get more done. They will also be willing to put in extra effort and get things done more efficiently.
Positivity carries over into every aspect of the company, and it even creates a better atmosphere for your customers. There are a lot of ways you can inspire this positivity in your company. You can start with these few, very effective strategies.
Lead by Example
Cliché though it may be, leading by example as a business owner is extremely important and far more effective to influence your employees’ attitude and behavior than simply giving everyone a series of guidelines for conduct, or telling them to be positive. We all know that just telling someone to be positive or to, “put a smile on!” doesn’t work.
People get a good attitude from being happy in what they’re doing, being appreciated for their work, and having authority figures who are positive, themselves. Leading by example is also just a much easier method to influence your team because all you have to do is conduct yourself in the way you want everyone else to behave.
That’s not to say that they’re all going to instantly imitate you, but it is definitely a good motivator for people to start thinking that they can be positive, too, and try to improve themselves and their general outlook. This can be a good way to self-assess because when you start to think about all the characteristics that you want your team to have, and you see that you don’t have those traits, yourself, it’s time to take a look at what you need to change.
Create a Positive Work Environment
Not only should the atmosphere and work environment in your business be conducive to productivity, which you have no doubt put a lot of energy into creating, it should be a space in which employees feel comfortable, one where they even look forward to going. It’s going to be very difficult to infuse your team with a positive attitude when their working environment automatically puts them in a negative mood.
You can start by assessing this yourself by carefully looking at the space wherein everyone works and take time to think about how it feels, putting yourself in employees’ shoes to see what kind of experience they are having at work. The first thing you might want to look for are pain points or persistent issues that employees are facing needlessly at work, such as a workspace that’s too small, not enough light or ventilation, or things that need to be fixed.
Those might be toilets that don’t work, not enough power outlets, tools, or anything else they need to do their jobs. They might seem like small issues but can really make it a challenge for everyone to do their work. It will probably cost you relatively very little to make the changes for your team that can make them profoundly happier with their work environment.
The next step is to interface with your team directly and ask them what they like or dislike about their environments. They usually won’t even ask for much. See what you can afford to improve or change, and for whatever you are unable to do right now, letting them know that you’re committed to helping them and you’re going to be fixing it as soon can go a long way.
This is an area that demands your attention because a lot of offices or workspaces can feel soul-crushing for employees. When they come into work every day, knowing everything they’re responsible for but are immediately confronted with a tough work environment, they are not going to be able to stay positive throughout the day—or only for so long.
Something else that is technically part of the working environment is creating a place where employees of the company are truly valued and letting them know that they are valued. A great way to do this is to provide incentives for reaching goals. For example, you can set a precedent that if someone completes a project, meets or exceeds sales goals, or other goals, then they get some kind of reward or bonus.
This would be separate from official promotions or raises, which we’ll get into in the next section. It doesn’t even have to be anything big, but if everyone knows that they get whatever that bonus is, every time they reach predetermined goals, then that incentive is really good for morale.
Incentivize with Trajectory Towards Promotions & Raises
One thing that too many business owners neglect is laying out a clear plan for promotions and raises within the company, so that there is no confusion about what is required for them to reach those levels. When employees know exactly what is expected of them to reach the point where they can be promoted, and when it will happen, it’s a huge incentive for them to work harder and do well.
This is one of the most common oversights on the part of owners. Once they see that an employee is doing well and meeting expectations, they don’t see it as a top priority to give them a raise until they finally ask for it.
Obviously, owners don’t want to spend more money on employees in the form of raises, so they tend to put it off as long as possible. This is a mistake and can lead to a bunch of disgruntled people, as well as good people who end up leaving the company for another one that will better take care of them.
Even if you do give out raises and promotions eventually, it can be extremely frustrating for employees when they have no idea when it’s going to happen or what you want to see from them to reach it. If you put yourself in their shoes, it’s really hard to stay positive at work as an employee of a business, and to put forth your best effort when there is no reward in sight.
The main idea here is to make sure that your plan for this is clearly laid out. In the same way that disciplinary action escalation should be made clear right off the bat when someone is hired, that’s the same practice you should observe for the opposite direction, towards promotion.
Work isn’t always fun, and that’s why it’s called work. There are, however, things you can do to spice it up a bit. When you organize your office or policies in a non-traditional way, it just makes things a little more interesting and gives employees something to look forward to and even enjoy when they come to work.
Something as simple as redesigning the office by decorating or furnishing it with things you typically don’t find in an office can make a big difference. Maybe you can install a large fish tank, put in a salad bar, add a really nice lounge area, or even just change the color scheme to something more comfortable or a little more fun.
It’s really only limited by your imagination and creativity. “Traditional” in this sense refers to anything that businesses always do that make it really boring, things which can easily be changed or updated with no consequence to the quality of work being done. Something like “Casual Friday” is just a start, and that’s already pretty boring in itself.
The point is to make it fun, and you should involve your team in this process, too, as they can tell you what they would like to have at work. It doesn’t just have to be changing the color of the office and adding some new furniture, either. You can break tradition to make work more interesting in other areas.
If it’s logistically possible for your business, why not let people work from home if their jobs don’t require them to be in the building? Working remotely isn’t for everyone, and many businesses obviously can’t function if people aren’t physically present. It may, however, benefit some employees a great deal if that’s an option for them.
Plan Company Outings
Remember taking field trips in grade school? They’re fun for adults, too. Many business owners are afraid that company trips, dinners, or other outings can take away the focus of employees, or that they won’t be able to afford it. It’s not like you need to host any outings during working hours; it’s just something that everyone can do together and build a better rapport with each other.
You might actually find that it helps people to focus more on their work because they have a little something to look forward to. Again, you don’t have to plan big, extravagant events or spend a ton of money on it. For example, inviting the team out to a dinner at a decent restaurant every couple of months is not that much of an expense and can be a good time for everybody.
It also gives everybody a chance to meet and get to know everybody else in the company, which can make it a lot easier for them to work together. Dinners are the traditional type of company outing, but beyond that, there is plenty that you can organize for your group, depending on what they will enjoy the most.
This is another opportunity to talk to your team and find out what everybody’s into, so that you make sure they all have a good time. It’s all part of taking care of your team, making work a little more enjoyable, and getting the best product out of employees that you can by valuing them and showing them that you value them.
You may have an extremely busy business that doesn’t leave much opportunity or time to take your team out and treat them to a fun event outside of work. That’s a given, but if you can carve out some time for it, these outings can be great for morale and the general mood of employees.
To Wrap It Up..
If you’re reading this, then there’s a good chance that you’re already planning on disregarding it because you don’t see this aspect of your business to be essential enough to devote any time or energy to it. You can be sure, though, that creating an atmosphere of positivity within your company is right up there with standard business ethics.
And although it should be standard practice, there are numerous businesses who don’t take it into account but pay little attention to creating a positive, healthy work environment. Many business owners instead do the absolute bare minimum in this area and focus all of their energy on making sure the product gets made and sold, and that their customers are happy.
It is of course vital that your customers are happy, but you put that in jeopardy when the people at your company who make your product or service possible are very unhappy. Every person is responsible for how they conduct their lives, but you can make it a lot easier for them at work when you take every chance to encourage positivity.
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.