When it comes to managing your employees, one of the most important things you can do for them involves setting the right tone at work.  We’ve all heard some of the horror stories about terrible jobs or bad managers, and the one thing each of these stories has in common was the negative workplace environment.

An employee’s motivation to work is heavily influenced by his or her environment. You want your employees to respect you—not fear you. Creating a positive work environment will yield far better results for your employees and your company.

Clear communication

Good communication between a boss and his or her employees is essential for a positive working relationship. Your employees need to understand what you want them to accomplish, but you also need to have an idea of what they expect from you. There should be an equal amount of communication from you and your employees.

The key to good communication at work is to be clear and direct. If there are issues, don’t avoid them and pretend they don’t exist. Address them head-on and make it clear why it’s an issue. Especially if you are carrying bad news, it’s much better to be direct with your words. 

Listen to everyone’s ideas

Each one of your employees is with your company for a reason. Encourage employees to voice ideas. Even if the idea may need some work, it’s still important that everyone has his or her say. This will show that each member of your team is valuable and his or her input is just as important as a fellow coworker’s.

Encourage your employees to share their ideas.

Set up specific times during the day to open your office door and allow employees to bounce ideas off of you. Encourage your team members, especially the more quiet employees, by asking for input directly—that will help cement the fact that everyone’s input is important. At Swartz Kitchens & Bath, employees are encouraged to share design tips in their weekly meetings. This lets them learn from each other and also helps them to be on the lookout for more ideas to share with the team.

Recognize hard work

It’s a good idea to reward an employee who does a good job. Recognizing the individuals who work hard will encourage them to keep up the great work. It also instills the notion that hard work is acknowledged and appreciated, and encourages other employees to strive for the same recognition.

Staff meetings are a great time to acknowledge the work your employees do. You can take two minutes out of your meetings to bring attention to your employees’ accomplishments. Other rewards that are cost-efficient can involve letting your hard working employees either leave work early or come in later, or present them with a prize such as a gift card.

Internet marketing company WebpageFX has an “ongoing learning program” that rewards employees for spending time outside of work reading industry related books, learning code, or attending seminars. Some creative incentives they offer include tickets to play laser tag, Netflix subscriptions, and if you work hard at it for several years, you could even earn a safari to Africa.

Show your trust

You know those parents that hover over their children constantly and never give them time to breathe? You don’t want to be the workplace equivalent of that. Your instinct may be to micromanage and make sure everything is running exactly as you want it, but that will only create a negative environment for everyone else in the office. I once had a boss who read every email that anyone sent in the entire company. I would send a coworker a private email asking about the details of a project, and by boss would respond with input. Everyone felt like we were being watched, and morale suffered.

Step back and let your employees do their jobs. You have to trust that they will do a good job—after all, you hired them for a reason. While you should be periodically checking in with your employees, you don’t want to be overbearing about it.

Have some fun 

Your employees are spending eight hours of their day in the office. Maintaining a professional environment is important—but that doesn’t mean it has to be dull. A happier employee will perform much better than a miserable one.

There are many ways you can be both fun and professional. Allow your employees to decorate their work spaces to show off their personalities—even have small contests for the best decorated desk. Encourage employees to take breaks during the day and they’ll be happier and more productive. A staff retreat can do wonders for morale—provided you have a fun and productive retreat.

Lead the way

As the one in charge, you are the one who sets the tone for your employees. If you are grumpy and negative, your employees will react accordingly. If you stay positive, your work environment will reflect that. A smile is contagious—and a frown even more so.

Be comfortable and encouraging with your employees. Listen to them and keep up the constant communication. Once you create the positive work environment, maintaining it becomes a lot easier.

What have you done to make your workplace a more positive environment? What are some things you have experienced that made a work environment either positive or negative? Tell us on Twitter @bplans.


AvatarScott Huntington

Scott Huntington is an entrepreneur, writer, and blogger specializing in small business.