For the leaders.
A comfortable work environment is essential for workers to perform to the best of their abilities. Every employee should be able to express themself, feel like they are heard, like they belong, and like they are on a level playing field as everyone else. This all starts with great leadership and the foundation of a welcoming culture.
Here are some tips to consider in order to create a comfortable work environment:
1. Hold 1-to-1 meetings
First and foremost, there is a massive difference between a boss and a leader. A boss simply tells their team what they need to do – usually a “my way or the highway” mentality. A leader guides their team through the process – more of a “let’s do it our way” mentality. A leader creates a comfortable work environment; a boss does not.
One step managers/supervisors can take to be great leaders is holding monthly 1-to-1 meetings with each one of the employees under their supervision. This is an excellent way to allow employees to voice their opinions on any subject matter of their choice without the pressure of making statements to the entire team. It is also a great way to build important relationships between management and employees.
Create a primer template for employees to fill out prior to the 1-to-1 meetings. Include questions like “What is an important subject we should discuss?” and “What should we start or stop doing as a company?” This will establish some structure.
As a manager/supervisor, keep an open mind and listen to what your employees have to say, even if you disagree. In the wise words of SpongeBob SquarePants, “Don’t be a jerk.” Hear them out, don’t cut them off, and see if any compromises can be made in order to move forward. Communicate with L.U.V.
2. Communicate with L.U.V.
An excellent communication strategy you can use to ensure to your employees that their voices are heard is communicating with L.U.V. – Listen, Understand, and Validate.
Listen intently and intentionally. Do your best to absorb everything that is being communicated to you.
Once everything is communicated, make sure that you properly interpreted what was said. If anything is unclear, simply ask questions. Once you think you have a good understanding, state your interpretation of what was said to you: “So what I am hearing is…”
Let it be known that the person is being heard, that their feelings are valid, and that measures will be taken in order to move forward.
We communicate with L.U.V. everyday here at Pulse Marketing, as it is one of our cultural beliefs. Our creative writer, Arielle, actually wrote a blog on developing cultural beliefs earlier this month. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you read it for some more leadership tips! Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
3. Foster honesty and empathy
Fostering honesty and empathy may be the most important step leaders must take to create a comfortable work environment. You can throw the last two tips out the window if you don’t establish an environment that encourages honesty with a team of empathetic leaders.
Leaders should ask their team if anyone has any questions, comments, concerns, thoughts, etc. on any given topic during meetings or discussions. Build your employees’ confidence to use their voices by making sure to include everyone in these conversations. Say hello as people join the meeting. Make quick conversation before getting started. Every now & then, you might even want to call people out by name during meetings to see if they have anything to say or ask. (I can say that starting out in the business world as a young introvert, I personally needed to be called out in order to use my voice. Otherwise, I would keep my questions or opinions to myself. Over time, I was able to speak up without being called out.) This all depends on your leadership style. There is no right or wrong way to foster honesty and empathy; just make sure it is known that everyone has a voice!
4. Create a comfortable work environment… literally
As a leader, not only should you make employees feel comfortable by giving everyone the opportunity to express themselves, but you should also LITERALLY create a comfortable workspace for them.
No one wants to work in a cubicle in a bland office space.
That is what hell looks like. No thank you.
For companies that work in office spaces:
Many companies now work remotely due to the uncertainties caused by the pandemic, but for those who still work in office spaces, create a workspace that is comfortable and inspiring. Cubicles are okay, but at least add a bit of spice by making the place aesthetically pleasing! Fit your company’s brand. If it’s a company with fun, exciting branding, create a fun, exciting workplace! Offer some complimentary snacks, drinks, etc. in the break area. Maybe invest in a coffee machine, vending machine, anything to make the workplace a bit more welcoming. Make your team feel at home, at work. Working in a cozy space will boost your team’s creativity and overall morale. Coming into work will be much more enjoyable.
For companies that work remotely:
Whether it’s working in an office space or working from home, your team deserves the privilege of a comfortable and inspiring workplace. Without the costs of an office space, you might have some extra money to invest in other things, so invest in your team! You could offer your employees a monthly allowance to purchase anything that will improve their remote work life. You could buy them comfy office chairs. Anything that could make their work life just that much more comfortable will go a long way.
As the world evolves, business practices evolve with it. Bosses are evolving into leaders, and more & more companies are finally making the well-being of their employees’ a top priority – as it should be! Creating a comfortable work environment and giving employees the opportunity to voice their opinions on any given subject matter are key factors to keeping a business running and growing.
You have a team full of people with incredible ideas. Make sure they are comfortable. Make sure their voices are heard.