What makes a good work environment and how to spot one

When job seeking, you want to find a job in a place where you really want to work with a good work environment.

What is a good work environment?

A good work environment is one where employees are happy. A workplace with a positive environment may have lower staff turnover, and it’s been found that happy workers are more productive than unhappy ones. A 2019 study at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School found that happy employees worked faster, made more calls per hour, and achieved 13% higher sales than their unhappy colleagues.

Another study from the University of Warwick in 2015 found that happiness made people about 12% more productive, companies with happy employees outperform the competition by 20%, and happy salespeople close 37% more sales.

What makes a happy employee? A good work environment with engaged employees. And what makes a good work environment? The following:

What makes a good work environment?

Open communication. A workplace where managers maintain open door policies and open communication with their employees is more likely to be a good one. Employees need to know they can speak openly to their superiors, ask questions, and request what they need. When people don’t feel they can talk to their managers, that creates tension. Communication between teams and between employees themselves is also vital. People need to feel that they can talk to each other, and individual departments should know what other departments are doing. If marketing doesn’t know what sales is doing and sales doesn’t know what research & development is doing, the teams aren’t going to achieve good results. And when people don’t get good results from their work, they’re not happy.

Encouraging people to share ideas and suggestions. Continuing with the same theme, employees should also feel that their ideas are worth sharing and that they are welcome to do just that. When everyone is welcome to bring ideas to the table, not only does it create a friendlier and more fun place to work, it fosters innovation, creativity, and employee engagement, which is key to a positive work environment.

Sharing goals and targets and strategies for reaching them. Sharing company goals allows employees to see where they fit into the success of an organization as a whole and when people feel that they are integral to the success of something, they are more invested in the outcome. Sharing strategies for reaching those goals is key, so that team members can see a clear-cut path to that where they need to get to.

Including employees in the decision-making process. Employers who involve their team members in the decision-making process send a clear message that they value the opinions of those team members. This level of trust and consideration goes a long way toward fostering employee engagement.

Proper training and onboarding. At no point in any business should employees feel like they don’t know what they are supposed to be doing and that they don’t know whom to ask or where to get this information. Proper training and onboarding empowers employees to do their jobs and succeed. They should come out of it with a thorough understanding of what the company does, what company goals are, and how their job contributes to those goals. They should have a clear understanding of how to do their job, what is expected of them, and what to do when they don’t have an answer.

Diversity. An organization with a diverse workforce employs people from a range of backgrounds and characteristics. These may include but aren’t limited to gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, physical ability, and socioeconomic status. This means people have different life experiences which allow for a range of different outlooks and opinions. The world is diverse and so a workforce should be. Research has found that inclusive workforces are happier.

Supporting career growth and advancement. A positive work environment is one that allows people to grow and advance in their careers and doesn’t try to keep them down. People want to feel forward momentum in their lives and will get bored and become unengaged if they don’t have this. That’s why opportunities for advancement consistently rank among the top considerations for people when deciding whether to accept a job offer.

How to tell if a workplace has a positive work environment

When job searching, know the signs of a positive work environment, so you can decide if a company is a place where you would like to work.

If you’re in the office for an interview, look for happy employees. Do people seem pleased to be there? You may also be able to gauge whether your interviewer or interviewers like their jobs. These aren’t foolproof methods, but they might help give you an idea.

When it comes time to ask questions during the interview, ask what they like about working there. Hopefully, they can give you a concrete answer beyond “I like the company culture” or another predictable response. Also ask about their management style and their training and onboarding processes.

Check employee reviews online to see what people are saying about the company, and if you know anyone who works there, ask them to share their thoughts and experience. Look at LinkedIn for company employees and former employees and note the duration of their employment. High turnover and a lot of short tenures may mean something is amiss.

The company website may also tell you something. Not necessarily, since the employer brand is carefully curated and designed to make the company look good. But if the company goes above and beyond to create a positive culture, you can sometimes tell.  For example, if the language on the website is employee-focused and talks about commitment to employee happiness, it’s a good sign. People posting positively about the jobs on social media also bodes well.


Originally published on Talent.com.


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