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Creating value through a great workplace

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It might seem common sense that a happy workplace is a productive one, and yet too many companies prefer to promote a competitive, high-pressure environment as their means of creating value. For one reason or another, businesses work on the assumption that an aggressive, cutthroat work culture produces more results than an engaged and rounded one.

It’s a cause for concern, especially as workplace-induced stress has been linked to a number of health problems ranging from metabolic syndrome to cardiovascular disease and mortality. According to a study published in The Lancet medical journal in 2017, heightened activity in the amygdala — a region of the brain involved in stress — is associated with a greater risk of heart disease and stroke.

“In the past decade, more and more individuals experience psychosocial stress on a daily basis. Heavy workloads, job insecurity, or living in poverty are circumstances that can result in chronically increased stress, which in turn can lead to chronic psychological disorders such as depression. Besides the heavy psychological burden, chronic stress is also associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” the study read.

Meanwhile, a detailed study commissioned by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) looking into work attitudes, found that eight in 10 of the 2,000 people polled said they would turn down a big salary increase if it meant working with people or an environment they didn’t like.

Clearly, a positive workplace culture is not only more productive one for employees, but it is also a healthier one.

So how do you create a great workplace? Here are three things you can try.

Build connections with your employees, and give them a stake in your company’s success.

Showing interest in the well-being of your employees goes a long way towards building a loyal, and engaged work force. Adding to that, make sure that the employees form positive working relationships with one another. First and foremost, a good workplace culture means that employees are compensated well with manageable workloads, are given opportunities to improve, and are motivated to see their company succeed.

Olivia Hill, head of human resources at AAT, said of the report, “It just goes to show that there is more to work than just money as the common perception can be. People don’t want stress in their lives and a great way to stay stress-free is to work in an environment you find comfortable, with people you like and with a manageable workload.”

Show empathy, Encourage people to talk to you.

Good leaders take into account the challenges faced by their employees. Compassion can foster the idea of the workplace as a second home and promote a supportive and resilient environment among workers.

“Not surprisingly, trusting that the leader has your best interests at heart improves employee performance,” the Harvard Business Review wrote on its Web site.

“Employees feel safe rather than fearful and, as research by Amy Edmondson of Harvard demonstrates in her work on psychological safety, a culture of safety i.e. in which leaders are inclusive, humble, and encourage their staff to speak up or ask for help, leads to better learning and performance outcomes. Rather than creating a culture of fear of negative consequences, feeling safe in the workplace helps encourage the spirit of experimentation so critical for innovation.”

Consider giving work flexibility benefits as well as material ones.

The job market is evolving. More companies are now offering perks such as working from home or flexitime. Keeping competitive with rates as well as benefits will ensure your workplace retains employees and attract new talent.

“Benefits and perks will continue to play a big role in the job search and recruiting game in 2016, especially with nearly three in five (57%) people reporting benefits and perks being among their top considerations before accepting a job,” online platform Glassdoor wrote in a 2015 study.

Good leaders know how to keep in tune to the needs of their employees, and knowing what to offer them will ensure that a company creates value in the long run.

“A positive workplace is more successful over time because it increases positive emotions and well-being,” the Harvard Business Review wrote.

“This, in turn, improves people’s relationships with each other and amplifies their abilities and their creativity. It buffers against negative experiences such as stress, thus improving employees’ ability to bounce back from challenges and difficulties while bolstering their health. And, it attracts employees, making them more loyal to the leader and to the organization as well as bringing out their best strengths. When organizations develop positive, virtuous cultures, they achieve significantly higher levels of organizational effectiveness — including financial performance, customer satisfaction, productivity, and employee engagement.” — Bjorn Biel M. Beltran