Creating a positive work culture can help you engage current employees and attract new ones, and it can also make you more profitable, according to Leigh Stringer, author of The Healthy Workplace: How to Improve the Well-Being of Your Employees — and Boost Your Company's Bottom Line.
The book refers to work culture as "the way things get done" in a business, and it includes your collective values, beliefs, assumptions, incentives and habits. In cultures where individual results are highly incentivized and collective goals are not, top performers may not "waste" their time sharing information with others, helping the team or coaching new employees. In more collaborative cultures, employees may invest in the team by helping others, even if it takes time away from individual goals.
Here are five suggestions from "The Healthy Workplace" for fostering a positive work culture:
1. Lead by Example
Leaders must be models for healthy, productive behaviors. Lead by example. Don't just announce a new health initiative, such as a morning meditation class — participate in it (or better still, lead it). If you want to encourage your employees to volunteer to help your local community, you should be volunteering, too.
2. Mix Up Your Approaches
When it comes to promoting a culture of health, one size doesn't fit all. While encouraging millennials to use a mobile app to meditate may work great for them, other employees may want a morning meditation class with a facilitator. "The best health and wellness plans," writes Stringer, "are those that employ multiple interventions across all areas of health and with strategies to help individuals on their own, in teams, overtly, and more passively."
3. Define the "Why"
In order to really support healthy behavior in the long term, you need to explain how the behavior benefits the employee and the organization. Rather than telling employees they "need" to lose weight in order to cut company health care costs, explain the connection between weight loss and reduced rates of diabetes and heart disease or how losing weight can help improve energy levels.
4. Provide On-Site Support
You don't have to break the bank, but setting up coaching sessions or training programs related to stress management, good nutrition and the benefits of exercise can yield large returns on investment, says Stringer. Reach out to professionals for help, or ask employees with health-related knowledge to share it with others.
5. Invite Employee Participation and Communication
You should have a way for employees to share their healthy ideas within your organization. You might have someone in charge of health-related initiatives, and this person could start conversations and reach out to other employees for input. Use your communication channels, from email to your website to meetings. When employees are involved from the beginning, they're more likely to be engaged overall.
Don't forget to align incentives around the health outcomes you seek. Employees want recognition and reward for their efforts, so provide it. Maybe set up a contest that awards a gift certificate to the employee who walks the most steps each month, or select a "Healthy Employee of the Month."
Whatever you choose to do, creating a positive work culture can only help your employees and, ultimately, it will help your business, too.
For more tips on creating a healthier workplace, check out our article on optimizing your office design to help improve employee health and productivity.
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