Top leadership of successful companies across the nation can often attribute their growth to the product or service they offer. However, without a positive environment for their employees to drive the inner workings of the company, their success would not be sustainable.

Companies that put a focus on creating an environment where synergy is in abundance and everyone is in a team mentality are the ones that reap the benefits of long term success. The goal should be to make it so that your employees are excited to wake up and get their jobs done on a daily basis, and when asked about the company they work for, they can’t help but gush about how much they love it.

On top of employee satisfaction, wouldn’t it be nice to don a shiny new “Best Place to Work” trophy in the office? Don’t act like you wouldn’t smile at that thing everyday as you walk past it.  

Here are some characteristics of a “Best Place to Work”, and how your company can achieve them:

It starts from the top.

The leadership team has the power to set the scene for the environment in which employees will either have the pleasure, or dread, of working in.  The atmosphere created needs to be one of a solid work ethic, supportive community, aligned team goals, and most importantly, the encouragement of asking questions and being able to ask for help when needed.  

A study by the Journal of Product Innovation Management shows that when leaders are fair and listen to the members of their team, employees show more citizenship behavior, on top of being more productive.  Giving employees a voice and space to
express their ideas and concerns creates a community where employees feel valued and heard, as opposed to feeling stifled.

Research from University Stern School of Business determined that when leaders are self-sacrificing, employees are more loyal and committed to helping other team members. Seeing their leadership dedicate themselves to their work day in and day out drives the employee to match or exceed this dedication. This is a true scenario of “leading by example”- leaders who work hard have employees who work hard.

 

Teamwork makes the dream work.

Sports teams are the perfect model of individuals coming together to propel the whole team to reach their mutual goal. The natural camaraderie and understanding that you are not in it alone, yet having the responsibility and internal push to achieve victory for your teammates, sets up each individual to perform their best.  

Think about it in terms of basketball: it’s the fourth quarter, your team is down by one, your opponent steals the ball and heads to their basket.  Do you sprint after the bandit, retrieve the ball, and dribble the other way for a lay up as the clock winds down? Or do you give your tired legs a rest and let the team suffer a loss? If you truly embrace the team dynamic, you do your part in ensuring victory, hustle down the court and score the winning basket. This is exactly what being on a “work team” does for each employee.  When you feel like you are part of a team, you will push yourself to make sure your team achieves victory whether that be winning that new client, implementing a new procedure that will be more efficient, or working late nights to get an important proposal prepared.

 

The power of trust.

In any relationship, this is a big one.  Without trust, the employee might feel micromanaged and incapable of performing their job.  

The Harvard Business review found that when employees do not feel trusted, workplace productivity and engagement often suffer. On the flipside, employees who do feel trusted are higher performers and exert extra effort to exceed expectations.  When a manager or a leader places trust in the employee, the message is sent that they believe in the employee’s abilities to succeed in their role on a day to day basis.  Therefore, enhancing the employee's confidence and ultimately their job performance.

 

A small gesture can go a long way.

Some employers go to extreme lengths to “spoil” their employees with benefits like providing gas fill ups for cars on-site, company paid golf outings, lavish lunches in the breakroom, and more.  While those are appreciated, simple employee acknowledgement can go a long way  The gesture could be as little as a 20 minute break mid-day, a shout-out during your weekly meeting, or even a high five.  Being acknowledged for a job well done tells the employee that their hard work is noticed and encourages them to keep performing so they can receive this positive feedback (there is a reason why Skinner’s Operant Conditioning theory exists).  

Ultimately, creating an environment in which employees are excited to get up in the morning and work relies a lot on the way they are treated.  Leadership has the ball in their court to set these standards and should lead by example.  

Teamwork reinforces the idea of being in it together so that when conflict arises, a solution is found through the lens of striving towards the same finish line.  Trust between leadership and the employee gives the employee a chance to spread their wings and fly on their own, allowing the leader to have peace of mind and more bandwidth to complete their own tasks (versus monitoring the employee). Lastly, simple employee recognition goes a long way.

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