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In the midst of the current trend being called “The Great Resignation”, there are contributions both employers and employees can make to create a workplace environment that’s positive and productive, with everyone engaged.

For employers, it’s important to evaluate the culture of your company and whether it’s one that will help you retain current employees and attract new ones. Those that do not provide employees with a positive place to work, competitive pay and good working conditions, are those having the most difficulty right now.

The foundation of all successful cultures is trust. Managers need to hire and train the best employees they can and trust them to do their work. That doesn’t mean a lack of training, oversight or accountability, but micromanaging most employees demotivates them. Employees who are trusted are more likely to ask questions, take ownership of mistakes, and raise new ideas.

We have a weekly process of what I refer to as Watering the Bamboo, developed by the author Greg Bell. We talk about what we did well as a company that week, and what individual accomplishments were achieved. This helps employees focus on the many good things that occur, since a natural tendency is to focus on the negatives. We then talk about mistakes someone may have made that week. This is not about finger pointing, but constructively turning those into learning or training opportunities.

Trust helps foster an environment of more effective collaboration and communication. This is most successful when managers allow employees to give their opinions and ideas and listen to them. While they may not always agree, the discussion is an important process. Employees usually do not leave companies, they leave managers who fail to engage effectively with their teams.

It’s also important for managers and employees to really understand everyone on the team and recognize that not all employees are the same – and we don’t want them to be. Every individual brings to the workplace their own behavioral traits that need to be understood and balanced. For example, trying to force an employee who by nature is methodical, with a high need for accuracy, to make quick decisions is not likely to be successful. Training all employees to understand their coworkers can be a very effective way to reduce conflict and increase collaboration. We use a workplace appropriate DiSC assessment to facilitate this process.

A word we are hearing employees say often now is “empathy”. They want their companies to understand family, financial and other pressures they may experience and be willing to work with them when necessary to better manage or alleviate those. For example, an employee having to care for a sick family member may ask for a different work schedule for a period of time, or a temporary reduction in hours.

For employees, there are ways they can contribute to creating a positive culture, helping to reduce the stress and tension that creates a negative environment. In some companies, it’s as straightforward as showing up for work when scheduled, following workplace policies and working productively and effectively.

Many companies are encouraging employees to bring forward ideas, help drive innovation, and improve profitability. However, that doesn’t mean the company or coworkers will always agree, so responding to that disagreement with respect and positive discussions will help create a more open environment.

One very destructive aspect of workplaces is “office politics”, so a great way to help drive a great culture is to not engage in gossip or complaining about coworkers. “Emotionally intelligent” employees have developed the skills to directly address issues and more effectively resolve those, in a way that builds their own value to the company.

The win for both employers and employees of a positive, successful culture is increased productivity and profitability, higher customer or client satisfaction, and lower absenteeism and turnover (per a Gallup research study). Those are all good reasons for everyone to work together to achieve that!

Sandra Dickerson owns Your People Professionals and HR Your Way, providing business owners throughout California with HR outsourcing and consulting services for over 30 years. She is a member of the California Lawyers and American Bar Associations and SHRM, serves on the Board of Directors for the Santa Maria Valley Chamber, and is a Certified Everything DiSC trainer.

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