2020 Workplace

Feb 26, 2020

In the modern workplace, 90% of business leaders believe an engagement strategy would greatly benefit their employees. However, only 25% actually have a strategy in place. 

Business leaders across the country continue to drop the ball when it comes to forming impactful work cultures. I believe part of this is because many leaders overcomplicate employee engagement initiatives. 

When it comes down to it, creating a better workplace simply means creating an environment in which people love to work. 

The best workplaces are made up of the best people who give their best, expect the best, and go above and beyond on a continual basis. While it would be great if employees simply did this automatically, it often requires business leaders to be the example, creating a better workplace from the top down. 

I believe that success leaves clues. When managers lead their teams effectively it is obvious to outsiders in the way team members interact and talk about the business when they’re not at work. 

Here are my top seven ways to create a place where people love to work.

Share the why before the what

One consistent element of the world’s best organizations is that they share why decisions are being made so that everyone understands the context of change and growth initiatives. 

A recent study found that 74% of employees feel like they’re missing out on company news. Feelings of exclusion are often directly related to disengagement in the workplace. If we want our teams to be on board with our mission and company goals, we have to clearly communicate the “way” of changes in our businesses. 

The best places to work are littered with why before what and it shows in the smiles of the team and bottom-line to the shareholders. When employees understand the reasoning behind a project or decision, they are more invested in seeing it through and doing their best. 

Put your money where your mouth is 

What many employers fail to notice is that allocation of company funds is a huge indicator of what the organization stands for. If money is spent only for the betterment of the company and never the betterment of the employee, odds are, you will eventually have some unhappy workers on your hands. 

Invest money in culture initiatives and things that matter most to the environment you want to create. If you want to show you value development, put money towards development resources. If you want to have weekly Friday lunches for your full team to connect, set aside funds for that to happen. It might seem unnecessary, but money dedicated to the betterment of your team will never be a waste of resources. Over time, it creates less turnover, greater job satisfaction, and employees who are more willing to give their all to the job. With the majority of employees leaving their jobs for lack of recognition, this can go a long way in creating an environment where employees stick around for the long run.

Trade generic for authentic

Employees are great at distinguishing between genuine interest from a boss and uninterested, forced interactions. 

Instead of having generic conversations around the office, get specific and ask genuine questions that are more applicable to who they are. This requires authenticity and an investment of time on your part. According to a Harvard Business Review survey, 58% of employees claim to trust a stranger more than their own boss. That staggering statistics alone shows that many of us have a long way to go in creating workplaces that are perceived as genuine from management down to entry level employees. 

Listen carefully

Ensuring that employees feel heard is a crucial part of culture that begins with a conscious effort on the part of management to listen to the input of their staff. 

Listening is different than hearing and it requires full engagement with the message someone is sharing. Not only does it involve affirmation in the moment, it also requires an intentional effort to see someone’s suggestion through. 

Organizational leaders should be ready to listen and understand their team members before mandating what is understood. 


Harvard Business Review refers to listening as “an overlooked leadership tool” that has the potential to greatly impact team members when consciously implemented by leaders. 

Your organization is unique because the people within your organization make it unique. If you have experience leading one group of people, that won’t necessarily translate the same way to another group. Take time to get to know your team and listen to what they have to say. Chances are, they have some ideas worth listening to. 

Barter your strengths

Business is built on the idea of people trading their skills for the service of others. In the workplace, you have a chance to understand the strengths of others, and leverage them in areas where you are lacking. 

A Stanford study released a few years ago found that employees who collaborated at work stuck to a task 64% longer and were more engaged with the task than those who worked alone. 

A healthy team is one that works with each others’ gifts and relies on collaboration to effectively accomplish a goal. When done correctly this creates a higher level of productivity and better results for your company. 

Celebrate the things that matter

What gets celebrated will be repeated or reproduced. The best organizations are strategic about the things they celebrate and make sure they encourage actions that bring about the company’s desired results. Monitoring celebrations with intentionality will lead to better results including lower turnover and increased profits.

Studies show that 79% of employees who quit their jobs do so because of a “lack of appreciation” from their bosses.

People aren’t leaving companies. They’re leaving bosses. If we, as leaders, learn to celebrate our team well, it can make all the difference. 

Trade me language for we language

Leaders in the best workplaces leverage this principle implicitly. The language and customs of the organization must exhibit a “we” mentality over a measly “me” existence if they want to go to the next level. When team members can see that their work matters and that their efforts contribute to the company’s vision, success is guaranteed.

Countless studies have shown just how important meaningful work can be to an employee. In fact, a more recent survey found that 9 out of 10 employees are willing to make less money if it means doing more meaningful work. 

As leaders, this information is invaluable in understanding the motivation of our team. Once we give our employees meaningful work, we are sure to see a change in the way they view their job. 

Each of these principles have the ability to positively impact company cultures if implemented correctly. When it comes down to it, every one of these facets of business revolve heavily around the employee but are up to the manager to put in place.

Maybe your company is thriving in one area but needs a boost in another. Take time to assess where you are, what you should keep doing, and what you should do differently. And above all, be intentional in the way you encourage your team and build your culture.

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