Intentional steps that result in a happier workplace

Happy employees result in happy customers.

Think about your employees. Do they love their jobs? Are they proud of the company they work for? I recommend examining these five qualities of businesses with great culture, and taking stock of whether your company embraces them.

Staffing

Companies with great culture don’t have a revolving door. This is partly due to a selective hiring process. Do you hire with the notion of simply filling a desk? Do you hire in desperation mode? Are interviews conducted as an afterthought with little preparation? Successful business owners have a professional hiring process that begins with the intention of making your business, the applicant, and the existing team stronger.

Additionally, make sure you allot a budget to attract quality candidates. After all, you allocate funds to marketing so that you can attract external customers; make sure you dedicate a budget to attract “internal customers” as well. Smart companies attract great applicants by using well-written job postings, a generously incentivized referral program, and a branded company name that speaks for itself. They conduct background checks and drug screenings, coupled with personality and aptitude tests. What’s more, interviewing is done by more people than just the “boss,” and a successful company will usually host at least two interviews before making a final decision.

Great companies also look to have a well-balanced team. They know what challenges or deficiencies their existing team faces and look for teammates with strengths that fill those gaps.

Onboarding

Another characteristic of building a company with great culture is an above-par onboarding program, which begins well before day one. Have you given much thought to how your company is perceived when a new hire walks through the door? Is your office space welcoming? Did you notify your existing team of the new addition and start date? Did the new hire know what to expect with a clearly defined agenda? Successful companies announce new hires to the rest of the team, often giving a brief bio of the new team member, their expected start date, and a gentle reminder to be considerate and welcoming as they enter into their new job.

Solid onboarding programs also have materials ready on the first day, including guidelines for company attire, name badges, security logins and information on software systems, employee handbooks, and training manuals. The first day should reassure the candidate that they’ve chosen the best company at which to work; it’s a perfect time to resell the applicant on your company. Some companies even pair the new hire with a senior team member as a mentor. The bottom line is to have a plan in place with an agenda for the first week, if not longer.

Training

Oftentimes, employees who either leave a company or fail in their roles do so because of a lackluster approach to training. Winning companies have extensive ongoing training programs, which may include a mixture of technological, physiological, and psychological training. The best companies have training mapped out not for just the first 90 days but for an extended period of time.

Training shouldn’t be viewed as punishment or something just for the new hire, however. Rather, great companies offer steady and continuous training to all employees, including one-on-one training, peer-to-peer collaborative training and group training, as well as external learning opportunities such as workshops and networking events.

Your people should be your largest investment. Proper training for all aspects of their jobs will help with retention, improved productivity, and overall employee engagement, thus affecting your bottom line. Remember the adage, “Train your employees so they could leave; treat them well so they never want to leave.”

Recognition

Do you reward your employees simply by issuing them a paycheck on Fridays? Do your employees know how much you appreciate their above-and-beyond efforts?

Recognition and rewarding employees for good performance separate great companies from the rest of the pack. Unfortunately, recognition is often overlooked. A simple “congratulations” or “thank you” goes a long way toward improving employee morale and feeds a positive company culture.

Rewards don’t always have to be monetary, but can include incentive performance-based pay plans. Companies with great culture know what motivates their employees and use that knowledge to offer customized rewards including an extra company outing or party, paid time off, public recognition, and opportunity for advancement. Rewards can also come in the form of increased benefits such as company-sponsored charitable events, gym memberships, increased 401k contributions, and subsidized health care.

Communication

Businesses with a positive culture focus on consistent, clear, and concise communication. They are clear and transparent when delivering goals and expectations to their employees, including individual, department, and company goals. They also give constant performance feedback.  They encourage employees to collaborate, share ideas, find solutions to problems, and take ownership of their roles in contributing to the company’s success. They foster an open-door policy and encourage honest, yet respectable, feedback from all levels within the company. When bad news must be delivered, they do it quickly before rumors start. Keep in mind: bad news fast, good news often.

Conclusion

Sometimes, it may seem difficult to pinpoint what comprises a positive company culture since many attributes appear intangible. However, great cultures are the result of great intention. Extending your time and attention to these five elements will put you solidly on the path toward creating and maintaining a rewarding work environment.

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Tracy is a coach at Nexstar who focuses on the implementation of Nexstar processes in contractor call centers. She brings experience from several PHCE-industry roles, including CSR, dispatcher, call center manager, corporate trainer and more.