“Creating a positive, high- performing culture starts with strong, supportive leadership. Only when people are healthy, happy and energised can they perform at their best.”
If you take an honest look at the current state of your workforce, how do your employees look? Act? Function? Does your staff consist of highly-energised, productive people who are positive and supportive or do you have over-worked, burnt-out staff who may not be helping the company move forward?
If it’s the latter, it’s not surprising. The 2012 Global Workforce Study conducted by Willis Towers Watson found that around 65% of employees were not highly-engaged in their workplace. It also found that employees had severe doubts about the level of interest and support coming from senior leaders.
Hopefully, you are one of the employers interested in your workforce, who cares about their health and the energy that your staff exudes. Therefore, the challenge for you lies in creating an energised workplace culture and an environment in which people can perform at their peak.
Before we go into any tips about how to cultivate this energetic environment, however, let’s look at why your employees are feeling this way.
One of the biggest reasons why employees are burnt-out and unproductive is because of their working hours and environment. The majority of office workers are in a desk-bound environment, working at least 8 hours daily with minimum breaks and high expectations.
Along with that, offices can often appear dull, with limited face-to-face interaction, little opportunity for movement, and an overall feel that drains people rather than fuels them to work productively.
Sound familiar? At first, it may not seem to be a big issue if you are used to working in these conditions, but think how much more effective and productive you (and your entire team) could be if you created a different environment, with different accepted norms.
Are your team members feeling stifled or do they somehow have the ability to work around their current work environment? Does your own work suffer because of the environment you are in? Maybe you appear to be productive, but it’s likely that you aren’t reaching your full potential.
When you first begin looking into creating this energised, inspiring work environment, here are some questions to ask yourself and other leaders within your organisation:
- How do you want staff to feel when they get to work?
- What would the ideal work environment look like and feel like for the people in your organisation?
- Are staff permitted to move during the workday? Are they encouraged?
- How should your leaders conduct themselves in terms of their own wellbeing?
- What noise level is acceptable, where and when should it go down or be able to come up?
- What does excellence mean and what does it look like in your organisation?
- What hours do you expect staff to work? Why is this?
- Do staff know how best to manage their time and energy?
- How well are you encouraging creativity and problem solving?
- How much fun is too much, not enough, just right?
- What barriers to wellbeing do you seldom consider or discuss?
- How open to change are your leaders and your staff?
- What is the unspoken culture around breaks and mealtimes in your organisation?
- What would you most like to see change?
Reflection is one of the most important steps in creating an energised workplace culture. Why? Because understanding where your workplace culture is at right now and where you would like it to be is the essential first step in order to intentionally create the environment you want.
If you notice that you currently lack the positive culture that you desire it’s important to remember that your workplace environment didn’t get this way on its own. Cultures are a product of the people and the environment and they evolve over time depending on the direction and example of leadership.
You and your staff may have unknowingly come to a mutual conclusion that it is okay to feel lethargic, be unproductive, or to feel unhappy at work. That this is just as ‘good as it gets.’
But the real good news is that it doesn’t have to stay this way. Your workplace can be transformed into high-energy, high performance culture. The key is to set the goal for your team culture and to lead that change through policies and environmental changes, but most of all what you as a leader and your leadership team do and demonstrate yourselves.
In recent years, it’s become more acceptable to stay moving while you are at the office. With balancing boards and standing desks that keep office workers more mobile during the day, we are definitely on the right track. However, there is so much more that you can be doing to keep your employees healthy and happy. What can you be doing to create a workplace that allows an employee to be these things? Here are some ideas that you can incorporate in your office:
1. Create a Space That Encourages Movement to Boost Energy, Mood and Brain Power
Give your employees the opportunity to ‘snack on exercise’, to get up and move in regular intervals or whenever they need to. Have standing meetings (they’ll be faster and more focused.) Encourage employees to stand or do exercises and stretches at their desk. Make movement a normal part of the daily routine. A brief movement break away from focused desk work won’t just boost their energy and improve their physical health, it will also improve their creativity and problem-solving ability and help them work faster with more accuracy.
2. Encourage Employees Work With Their Natural Energy Schedule.
Our bodies are programmed to do around 90 minutes of focused mental work interspersed with 20-minute breaks, this fits our body’s natural ultradian rhythm.Teach this to your employees and give them the time they need to recharge. By giving them these pauses to relax and recharge they will be much more productive overall.
3. Make Healthier Foods the Norm in the Workplace.
Next time there is a meeting in your workplace, ditch the donuts and purchase a vegetable and fruit platter instead. If you go out for lunch with co-workers, opt for a healthier restaurant. Show your employees that nutritious foods will keep them full and focused and make it easy by having them on hand. Replace the vending machine with fruit bowls and provide ample fridge space and dining areas to encourage people to bring their own lunch.
4. Breathe Life Into Your Environment.
Make it so that your workspace is bathed in natural sunlight and surrounded by plant life. If you have an area that is a little more difficult to do this for, try to host outdoor meetings where your co-workers can get their necessary 15 minutes of light each day.
5. Encourage and Communicate
Employees are not machines. They do not complete work perfectly to your standards and they don’t work well with just instructions. They need guidance, encouragement, and help in order to work effectively.
Let them know what they are doing correctly and boost their confidence and self-esteem with your encouragement. If they aren’t doing something to your standards, also let them know and give them detailed advice on how they can improve their work in the future. No one will ever be able to improve their skills or productivity if they are in the dark about their work.
Most of all train your leadership team and managers to catch people doing things right and to provide immediate specific praise. This one strategy is one of the best management techniques to encourage peak performance as people always do more of what they are praised for.
6. Treat People As Individuals, Not Robots
The people who work with you are much more than just their skills and abilities. They are not robots who can sit at the computer and complete task after task with no errors and no breaks. They are not machines void of personalities; they are real people with the need for social connection and recognition. When staff are happier and healthier they can also perform better.
So, take time to learn all about them. Learn about things such as their past, what excites them, what they do on their time off. Employees who feel as though they are visible and have something more than just a work relationship with those in higher positions are much more motivated to come into work. It’s also important that you allow employees to get to know each other. This is how teams are formed.
7. Create a Visual Change
To help a change become established and to ‘stick’. Some sort of visual change or icon can be hugely beneficial. Whether its painting the walls a different colour, adding soft furnishing or new plants, having the organisational values printed to the walls or artwork with inspirational words and images put up, creating some sort of a physical change leads to a mental shift. The visual environment we are presented with affects how we feel. Consider how you want your work spaces to feel. Is it calm, focused, bright, upbeat, funky, slick, elite, relaxed, edgy or something else. Once you have defined the feel that you want, look at the options to create that feel and create a positive communication strategy tying it to the culture change.
8. Add a Catalyst For Change
Sometimes you need to invest in a catalyst for change to really break away from ‘how it’s always been done.’ An external force can bring a new perspective and highlight some of the possibilities for change. A motivational speaker or new role model can engage staff in a different way to the CEO.
Introducing a new programme or being part of a larger global movement with a bigger story can get people on board to embrace change in a positive way. A small amount of education and inspiration can lead to a great deal of change.
Most of all, remember that change is possible and it starts with YOU.
If you want to have a workplace that is positive and energised, you absolutely can make it happen. Using the tips above, you can start working towards creating the ideal work environment where people will really thrive.
What some help creating a Positive, Energised, High-Performance Culture in your workplace?
To get started with some practical steps to put in place to boost the health and wellbeing of your team, download a complimentary copy of my eBook 5 Keys to a Positive, Energised, High-Performance Culture.
Simply enter your details here so we can email it out to you.
It will equip you with checklists of tips and ideas you can implement straight away to help your team thrive.
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