Employees are the backbone of every business, but keeping them around can be a challenge. The key to success is to create an environment that employees look forward to working in and a culture where they feel valued. Managers can play an integral role in building a better workplace. Here’s how: 1. Be Positive and Build Employees Up Maintain a positive attitude and build employees up instead of tearing them down. Be mindful of the moods of your employees. Research suggests that 20-30% of employee performance is determined by employee mood. Positive emotions, like gratitude, joy and pride, allow you to think more creatively and work more collaboratively. Avoid negative conversations and gossip to maintain a positive atmosphere. And if an employee’s performance is not up to par, try to find a positive solution together. 2. Maintain an Open Line of Communication Adopting an open-door policy allows employees to feel as if they talk to you about problems or questions they may have about work or co-workers. It also means that you are open to suggestions on how to improve certain procedures or management. Just as employees are subject to feedback, managers should be open to feedback as well. Most importantly, you should listen and consider the feedback you receive. If something can be improved upon that would make employees happier and more productive, then it is certainly worth the consideration. Communication is key to building strong relationships, which is important in the workplace. 3. Make Safety a Priority When managers put safety first, employees feel more at ease. Slips and falls are the most common type of workplace accident. They account for 17% of all disabling work injuries. The physical safety of your employees should be of the utmost importance, so this means ensuring that the janitorial staff installs proper signage on slippery surfaces. It also means ensuring that workers are out of harm’s way during repairs or maintenance. Additionally, according to Friendhood managing editor David Jackson, “managers should take care to foster a culture that encourages healthy relationships. In the case that an employee feels he or she is being harassed, bullied or mistreated by co-workers, your office should feel like a safe-haven. Employees should feel comfortable coming to you with such issues.” 4. Make the Environment More Inviting The environment itself will also play a role in employee productivity and overall well-being. If possible, make changes to improve lighting and make the workplace more comfortable. Research has shown that exposure to natural light improves energy levels and mood, both of which greatly impact productivity and focus. Do whatever possible to allow more natural light into the workplace. That may mean removing curtains or installing new window fixtures to bring the outdoors in. If it’s not possible to allow more natural light inside, then consider other options. Blue-enriched light bulbs have been shown to increase happiness and work performance while reducing fatigue. It’s also important to create a comfortable work environment. A clean, clutter-free workplace will promote productivity. Comfortable furniture and work equipment will also allow employees to do their jobs more efficiently. Allow employees the freedom to make their workspaces more comfortable – on the company’s dime. Giving everyone a budget to customize their set-up can go a long way in improving employee happiness. 5. Play Off Employees’ Strengths How well do you know your employees? Do you know what motivates them? Do you know how they handle stress, how they learn and what type of support system they need to succeed? Understanding your employees’ strengths will help you delegate tasks in a smarter way. Employees also get greater satisfaction out of their jobs because they can easily accomplish the task and do it well. Productivity is also improved because employees work on tasks they excel at. 6. Make Group Activities a Priority Employees spend more time with their co-workers than their friends and, in some cases, their families. It’s important to build a work culture that promotes and encourages friendships and bonds among co-workers. Even if employees primarily work independently, it is still important to create a sense of community and belonging. One way to do this is through group activities. Plan team-building exercises and activities that will improve the work environment. Something as simple as a work lunch or after-work outing can also create synergy. Group activities help employees forge positive relationships and will create a more positive work environment. 7. Recognize Success and Show That You Care Acknowledge and praise employees for a job well-done. Along with public recognition for accomplishments, give recognition rewards. These can come in the form of gift certificates, cash, food or company merchandise. It’s also important for employees to know that you care. Know your employees by name and be involved in their work. Talk to them about their personal lives, and inquire about upcoming life events. Taking an interest in your employees shows that you value and care for them. 8. Be Flexible Give employees some flexibility when it comes to schedules and work hours. If possible, allow them to work remotely at least some of the time. One survey showed that 80% of respondents felt a flexible work schedule was healthier and 96% felt that a flexible job would save them time. Many employers now allow workers to choose their hours. They may require a certain number of hours to be worked each week, but employees can choose how to spread out those hours. This gives them the freedom to enjoy a better work-life balance. If their kid has a soccer game on a weekday afternoon, they can watch it without sacrificing productivity at work. 9. Provide a Sense of Purpose Make sure that employees understand the value of their work and how it impacts the company. Employees that can find meaning and purpose in their jobs are more likely to stick around and feel more satisfied in their careers. Purpose is the top priority for most employees – not money and schedule flexibility. When workers feel their job has a positive impact on others, they’re more productive and driven to improve their skills.