The 8 Vital Signs of a Healthy Workplace Environment
— March 2nd, 2023
If a CEO could spend just a few minutes inside the minds of their employees on a Sunday night, they would have a pretty good understanding of how healthy their organization’s work environment is.
Today’s employees are the least tolerant of a negative or hostile work environment. Given their willingness to quit for greener pastures, it is crucial to proactively monitor employee sentiment and prioritize the creation of a positive, supportive work environment.
But this shift toward focusing on employee well-being and workplace culture is a positive trend that actually benefits both individuals and organizations alike. By prioritizing a healthy work environment, organizations can attract and retain top talent, while also seeing increased productivity and, ultimately, success.
Tackling Attrition: Time to Ramp Up Employee & Workplace Experience
According to a recent study by the American Psychological Association, 80% of US workers say that their employer “has a responsibility to ensure a mentally healthy workplace.”
Creating an upbeat atmosphere where your employees feel respected, valued, and heard, can help your organization thrive. On the other hand, a toxic work environment can have serious adverse effects on your employees’ motivation levels, productivity, and engagement—along with your bottom line.
Many factors determine what makes a healthy work environment, and providing employees with a physically safe, clean, and welcoming workspace is only the tip of the iceberg. A Glassdoor survey found that 56% of job seekers prioritize the non-tangibles—the culture and values—over salary when considering a job offer.
Let’s take a closer look at what we mean by a healthy working environment and the many benefits it offers.
How to Provide a Safe, Healthy Space for Employees
As an employer, it’s your responsibility to provide employees with an organized, comfortable, and safe workspace.
Tips for providing this type of workspace include:
- Adhering to building regulations and guidelines
- Eliminating clutter
- Regularly disinfecting surfaces
- Creating collaborative spaces
- Providing a variety of seating options
- Implementing quiet areas for focus or relaxation
- Investing in a coffee machine
- Embracing natural light
- Providing lunch/break areas
- Including natural elements in the design of your office
Providing a workspace where employees can be productive is an excellent first step. But attaining a healthy environment goes beyond this. You can be confident that your employees feel good about the work week ahead if you are consciously cultivating a calm atmosphere, reinforcing positive company values, and embracing a culture of open and honest communication.
The 8 Signs of a Healthy Work Environment
1. Strong Internal Communication
What constitutes "strong internal communication” in a modern, successful organization? There is a lengthy list to tick off—communications must be consistent, timely, relevant, tailored, and accessible. Information should not only be delivered to employees, but crucially, ideas should be shared and discussed, and employee feedback gathered and heard.
Tools like Poppulo’s Harmony platform offer this level of sophistication, ensuring highly personalized content reaches all employees—no matter what channel they prefer to use.
Strong communication fosters a collaborative environment where employees feel safe and welcome to express their opinions. Managers should embrace an open-door policy, encouraging employees to call on them anytime to voice their concerns or make suggestions.
2. High Level of Employee Engagement
When employees are engaged in their roles and passionate about what they do, the knock-on effect can transform not only their own personal mental health, but the whole atmosphere and culture within an organization.
There are a ton of ways to improve employee engagement levels, but some examples include the following;
- providing opportunities for growth and development
- building a culture of open and transparent communication
- hosting regular team-building activities and events
- recognizing and rewarding employees
3. Clearly Defined Roles and Responsibilities
Incredibly, in a recent study by Gallup, only 50% of employees strongly agreed that they know what is expected of them at work! This lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities can lead to confusion, frustration, and disengagement among employees. Mistakes are bound to occur. Essential tasks will fall between the cracks. Blame and finger-pointing will inevitably result.
In a healthy work environment, everyone is clear on what they are doing, and, most importantly, clear on their own personal objectives and goals, plus the overarching goals of the entire organization. Understanding how this all fits together and how their role impacts the organization’s overall success gives employees an extra motivational edge.
4. Employee Wellness Treated as a Priority
Companies that prioritize employee well-being help to prevent work-induced stress, facilitate better physical, mental, and emotional employee health, and mitigate the risk of burnout.
Initiatives can include everything from yoga sessions to mental health talks, nutritious snacks to mental health days—but should be incorporated into a holistic,long-term wellness program rather than treated as one-off ideas. Ideally, a wellness officer would be appointed to oversee and champion an employee well-being strategy if feasible.
Workplaces that focus on well-being can increase retention levels, improve employee morale, reduce absenteeism, and build a more resilient workforce.
5. Lived Company Values
Nearly half of employees say they would consider resigning from their job if the values of the company did not align with their own values (45% UK, 51% US).
Company values are important because they help to create a shared sense of purpose and identity among employees. When company values are well thought out and meaningful, they can also help to build trust and credibility with customers, partners, and other stakeholders.
However, for company values to be truly effective, they must be more than just words on a page. They must be lived daily and reinforced through actions and decisions—by the leadership team and throughout all levels of the organization. When employees see that their organization is genuinely committed to its values, they are more likely to embody these values themselves.
6. DEI Front and Center
A DEI policy is a non-negotiable for any modern organization. And while establishing a policy is a crucial first step, it represents only the beginning of creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace culture. Organizations must also take action to address systemic biases and inequalities, create opportunities for underrepresented groups to succeed, and foster a culture of respect and openness. This requires ongoing effort and commitment from leadership, as well as buy-in and participation from all employees.
Low levels of diversity in a company can often indicate a toxic work environment that alienates certain employees and affects how comfortable they feel at work. Conversely, an organization with a strong DEI ethos promotes strong employee morale and engagement by creating a sense of belonging.
7. Teamwork Over Competition
Teamwork will always come before competition in a positive, collaborative work environment.
While competition is often encouraged by employers in an attempt to make their employees more productive, it can easily backfire. Ties between workers become strained, and a tense atmosphere can build.
When teamwork is endorsed, the opposite is true, as employees show up for one another and inspire and motivate each other to do the best job possible. (Maybe we should talk about “healthy teamwork” rather than “healthy competition”?!)
8. Good Work/Life Balance
"Almost everything will work if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you." — Anne Lamott.
A healthy balance between an employee’s personal and professional activities can significantly benefit an individual and their organization. For example, Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company, is famously known for encouraging employees to take time off to pursue outdoor activities and also offers flexible schedules and on-site childcare.
Happily, more accommodating working arrangements, such as the ability to work remotely, flexible hours, and generous parental leave policies are becoming a reality for many.
Along with greater employee satisfaction, an excellent work-life balance leads to higher productivity, lower absenteeism, and improved physical and mental health among employees.
What Are the Benefits of a Healthy Work Culture?
Creating a positive workplace atmosphere where employees feel respected brings many benefits, including:
- A clean, comfortable office
- Improved employee health and well-being
- Increased employee productivity
- Greater employee morale
- Lower absenteeism rates
- Increased job satisfaction
- Improved teamwork
- Reduced employee turnover
- Improved business performance
- Fewer workplace injuries and compensation claims
Are You Ready to Amplify Your Company’s Culture?
A healthy working environment is a vital component of any successful business. While creating a safe, comfortable, and organized workspace for your employees is essential, a positive environment goes far beyond your organization’s physical surroundings.
Many factors make up a positive working environment, from promoting open communication and an excellent work-life balance to embracing diversity and inclusion.
Your organization and employees will benefit greatly when you make a healthy working environment a priority. The most significant of these benefits include increased productivity, higher employee engagement, reduced turnover, and improved business performance.