Building a Happy and Productive Workplace

Building a Happy and Productive Workplace

Building a Happy and Productive Workplace

Often, workplaces have tight work schedules. Managers care only about work and rap employees on the knuckles if they fail to meet their schedules. Some managers have an unfriendly attitude towards employees, even bordering on hostility at times. Micromanaging makes the situation worse. Under such circumstances, work becomes tedious and employees become stressed out, with no hope of growth. This kind of a toxic work atmosphere drastically affects workplace productivity. Maybe your workplace situation is not so bad, but you need to make sure that you are doing all it takes to keep your employees happy and interested in their work.

Here are a few suggestions that could help you:

Provide a Positive Atmosphere for Performance: Employees usually begin their careers with the objective of proving their mettle and expecting a flourishing career. However, as negativity creeps into their minds as a result of bad experiences or failures, they become less motivated. So, you need to ensure that your employees reach their performance objectives. For that, you need to provide them with the necessary training and support.

Creating a productive work environment is, moreover, as much the responsibility of the employer as the employees. The employees should also take proactive steps to tackle any performance hurdles they face by bringing them to the manager’s notice and discussing solutions.

Help them Think Positively and be Optimistic: Being happy is a challenge in itself and it is a double challenge when it comes to the workplace. Your employees may have many apprehensions about their work and growth. So, assure them of fair treatment and growth prospects by setting clear parameters and sticking to them.

Keep giving them genuine and impartial feedback on a regular basis. This instills trust in them. They feel positive about their careers in your organizations. Remember, a confident employee is more happy and productive.

Ensure that your Managers are Cheerful: Leaders can either make or break the work atmosphere. Subordinates look up to them for guidance and help. If they are unhappy, their subordinates cannot be happy either. So, ensure that you are a cheerful leader.

Throw Challenges but be Supportive: A career devoid of challenges can never inspire an employee. So, throw new challenges at your employees, keeping their strengths and weaknesses in view. In addition, ensure that they have all the necessary support to meet their expectations.

Thus, you can build a happy and productive workplace by creating an atmosphere that promises hope, optimism, and professional advancement for your employees.

Do share your thoughts on the same.

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  • Ian Main

    I work in software development so my comments come from that perspective:
    Build an environment where people are encouraged to help each other. Collaboration is the most important thing in a successful team. Individuals should be encouraged to ask for help AS SOON as they feel they are finding a problem (or what they are working on) difficult. Taking collaboration further you get Pair Programming. However I have worked in the Electronics industry (years ago) and I believe that the concept works for most industries where there is a complex problem to solve. Two heads are better than one. I have a rule (that has worked well for us): If it’s non-trivial then two people will (overall) get through the problem with a more efficient lower cost solution that one. And paradoxically (you wouldn’t expect this) but my experience is that 80 to 90% of people enjoy it more than working alone.

    Try and arrange it so that you have enough resourcing so that you’re not always fire fighting. You need 5 to 10% of any project to be on process improvement. Have a weekly “Process Improvement” meeting where people can identify what is slowing them down and what needs optimizing. If people can see the frustrating things they work with daily are slowly improving over time it makes for a great environment.

    Innovation is fun and also obviously helps the business too. Encourage innovation. Innovation will only happen if people feel safe to “fail”. However, there is no such thing as failure in a good working environment. A failure is only an opportunity to learn. Was it a failure in process (in which case tweak/fix it) or is the idea or the way the idea was put into practice? What do you learn? What would you do different next time?

    Start and “Engagement Committee”. Made up of workers who talk to the other workers and occasional fun activities that can be used to team build.

  • Helen Kidston

    It’s not easy of course, and it may be that different environments require different cultures and approaches.

    From my own experience two things seem to characterise a happy and productive workplace – everyone treating each other as we would wish to be treated and true collaboration. For both one needs to step away from hierarchies wherever possible – there is a tendency in power relationships for treatment to be more directive than we would wish in relation to ourselves (which is not to say that managers should abrogate the responsibility to lead, just that a little bit of psychological sense would show that if you treat people well and emphasise the positive they are much more likely to follow than they are just ‘because you’re the boss, have the power, and (supposedly) the experience’ ). True collaboration needs to also realise that sometimes its the ‘left of field’ idea from the least experienced person in the group that is the stroke of genius. And true collaboration also mitigates against any destructive team competiveness. Focus the competition externally rather than internally.

    This also doesn’t mean that difficult conversations are avoided if they are needed or that measurement of performance isn’t important – its just that having the foundation of trust and mutual respect that is part of being a collaborative team means that any such discussions are done in a more practical and sensitive manner that supports improvement rather than dismissal, constructive rather than destructive critique.

  • It is indeed sad to see that many people are not happy and productive in their workplace.
    Fortunately I am not one of them. I LOVE my work.
    The key to being happy is to have a loving and giving attitude. What you give in life, you eventually will receive.

  • Aaron Spence

    Aaron Spence II • If you need to somewhere eight hours plus. It is important to build an enviroment where people want to be. My moto is you may be in a stressfull enviorment but you you can get a lot of work done without getting stressed out.

    In QA as a lead you need to be supportive of your staff. Since blame is often put on QA.
    Showing appreciation goes a long way.
    Sending emails of a job well done.
    Taking the team out to lunch.
    Also know your team and look for way to make small concessions for them individually in reconition for thier extra efforts.

    Generally when people know they are appreciated for thier hard work it make thier hard work easier to do and they enjoy working,

  • Maruxa Cabezudo

    Saying Good Morning every morning, motivating your employees, making them feel a part of the company, making them feel that what they are doing is important, being understanding, sharing moments with them that doesn’t have to do with work, team building, etc…. People need to feel important, free and indispensable. And if you make your workplace like that you’ll create a great place to work in : )

  • This article just sounds like typical management rhetoric – it sounds good, but never gets implemented or is so poorly put in place, nobody notices.

    What I’ve found to totally change outlook, attitude, and happiness is recognition, recognition, recognition! People love to be acknowledged for a job well done, a positive attitude, ingenuity, timeliness – anything and everything that is good in the workplace. It doesn’t have to be expensive gifts, nor should it be cheesey ‘smile’ stickers or ‘good job’ stickers. I send cards of thank you, congrats, good job, nice attitude, etc., sometimes filled with small trinkets of appreciation (a bracelet with a charm that says ‘Making a Difference’ or a $10 Gift card at Cheesecake Factory for coffee and dessert with a spouse, etc.). Even when someone feels down, but you know they are a good worker, sending some little notepad they can use at work that says ‘Believe in Yourself’.

    If you are talking about a huge corporation with thousands of employees in different departments, where such an endeavor may seem impossible to implement or costly, you give your department heads the authority and budget to do so in their specific department, ensuring nobody is left unnoticed.

    Bottom line is, humans are animals too, and positive reinforcement goes a long way!

  • Michael Spangle

    The biggest challenge for the Manager is to realize that there is a world of difference between Programs and Reality. Programs can be budgeted and planned for. They fit on spreadsheets and in day planners. What people need is not more programs, but more reality. This only comes about as Managers learn to think relationally.

    The biggest challenge for the employee is to get over the notion that it is somebody elses job to make me happy and content. The boss is not there to provide me with entertainment, but with work. It is my job to find contentment in my work. It is true that Managers can make that more or less challenging by their behavior, but in the end, the choice, and the responsibility to make that choice, comes down to me.

  • Andre Howell

    Wow Asha, what a broad question. I will give you the cliff notes version in my response. But first, if you ever saw the Movie “Pursuit of Happiness” you may recall the scene where Will Smith stood at the bottom of the stairs of the San Francisco Stock Exchange and proclaimed after watching the smiles on the faces of the employees coming in and out of the building… “Wow everyone seems happy there”. He then decided that he wanted to work there.

    Some thoughts:

    – Be very clear about what doesn’t make you happy. We all have distractions in our lives and sometimes they simply take away from the normal joys of the day.

    – If its environmental try to identify it. Is it the lack of motivation on the part of management? If so, be a trailbrazer and think about some solutions before complaining to management.

    – Make sure you are NOT a survey of one. How do others feel… and remember, don’t lead the witnesses when asking for their feedback.

    By the way, I absolutely love the work that I am involved in, but that doesn’t mean that everyday I feel productive or that I am happy. Just be careful not to take the bigger picture into account in terms of what overall satisfaction. You may on the other hand have a really legitimate concern that needs to be addressed.

    Best wishes

  • Razzak, that’s a great question. When I think about it for myself, when I enjoy my job I think it’s a combination of realistic, but challenging goals, interesting, committed people and reasonable, sane management.

    For example,
    * People: I worked at a market research company with a bunch of developers who were very excited about technology and the challenges it could help to solve and sales people who were motivated about helping clients. These people were wonderful to work with and kept me motivated to turn up.
    * Management Style – In another role, my boss was both demanding and reasonable. I was challenged in the role, but I also had ways to get relief if the stretch or pressure was too great. He was also very reasonable about things like working from home on the odd day where I needed to do something that required concentration because he trusted that I was really doing the work. That kept me striving to do better.
    * Confidence in the mission – One can often feel the sense in a company where people believe that the company will succeed. One might argue about priorities or methods, but when everyone feels that success is realistic, it’s easier to stay motivated. By contrast, those companies where people lack confidence in the success of the company tend to feel sick. Disagreements get blown out of proportion and it’s hard to keep people motivated.

    Of course these are all things that are difficult to shoehorn into an existing business. 🙂

  • Maverick

    Well they say you cannot keep everyone happy.. is it an excuse? I’d think so.. at least one can make an honest attempt. Keeping the employees happy is similar to keeping one’s family happy. Humans are not machine.. and they will be up and down, and thats what the Managers, and employers in general, should understand.
    To me the most important part of any happy relationship, be it professional or personal, is the trust, mutual respect, and empathy. The expectations and rules must be very clear and objective, and of course people should relate to them and be able to buy in. The employees need to be encouraged to try things out and be ensured that any failures are the only learning opportunities. I’ve seen this happen in my team, once I gave them a free rope, license to enjoy, and assured that they need not be bothered about the actual outcome as long as the follow the right choice. The most diffident team members came out with flying colours just because they felt if they failed they wouldn’t be blamed.

    Simply avoid micro management, questioning the commitment unnecessarily, and try not to show who is the boss all the time. Gain respect, but give respect first.

    It works…


  • Shankar Mahadevan

    The best way to do the same is do the activities with passion. Have a self motivation that I am a very important person to the organization as well as to the customer. Identify the customers very clearly….

    Provide a value addition in each activity. I dont mean gold platting but providing a value addition.

    It is easy and comes by practice. Practice it and once you build a happy and productive work place for you, it becomes easier to have the same rolled on to the team.

  • I think it is really important to create a fun and happy environment. When you do this, it will translate to the feel of the branch as soon as someone walks in. I also feel that it builds a cohesive team when you make them a part of the branch goals. I go over the goals with our team and seek their input for ideas on how to achieve. I also do a sales plan with targeted activities where I seek their help and we tweak every quarter. It is important because it allows them to provide ideas that we use and then they feel more a part and take responsibility for the results. It really works, as we have won Branch of the Year in 2 consecutive years!!

  • Deborah McCain

    Where we lost our way in many respects is believing that contentment is achieved from/in the workplace. I continually remind my students about the use of the word “work”, like homework, and workplace, for example. We work in order to achieve contententment in our personal life. Unfulfilled people will be unhappy wherever they are.

    Many contemporary students believe they will be able to carry the behaviors of pre-schoolers into college and then the workplace. Unfortunately, many achieve this; causing dysfunction in the classroom and the workplace impacting people who actually go to work…to work.

    We may not always enjoy the tasks placed before us. I detest documenting and reporting plagiarism, but know it is a part of my responsibilities. I don’t enjoy marking failing grades on exams, and take greater pleasure in noting the success of a student. However, reality is reality.

    On a daily basis I am faced with adults who behave as if they need to be placed on permanent time-out. I half expect them to retire to a corner and engage in thumbsucking.

    If we contstantly seek validation from the outside, we will continually be waiting for Godot, and remain unsatisfied.

    In some companies where I worked there were luncheons, plaques, staff meetings highlighting favored employees, or competitions…that were usually fixed in some fashion. These were places where when employees had grown tired of the certificate, they wanted the trophy, and when the trophy proved to be plastic, there were hints that cash was always appreciated. I am reminded of middle school students where some teachers provided pizza for reading program results. After a few parties, the students would start to roll their eyes and say, “what…pizza…again..?”

    Many contemporary work environments are peopled with individuals who, in an 8 hour day, generate about 2 hours of valid work, then complain they are overworked and underappreciated.

    There are days when I truly detest my working environment. Students who do not complete assignments yell at me (these are adults, mind you), and cry to the dean about how mean I am, and that I have hurt their self-esteem because I would not allow them full credit for an assignment that is incomplete and two weeks late. Oh yes, I must be racist too..just for giggles.

    Employee selection is, and always will be subjective. Many people hire and promote people who can be easily controlled, will always be grateful, or will be minions. Too often, we hire people who remind us of ourselves, rather than someone who will provide a unique, challenging, and objective view.

    As to motivation? One of the greatest motivators in the workplace is the use of three words: Please, and Thank You.

  • Asma Zaineb’s article is most worthy of discussion among managers that desire to motivate their departmental talent. I have had the privilege of championing “creative” staffs most of my career. Many of the resulting comments about Zaineb’s article are also great inspiration and valuable to put into practice. Just remember, each associate is so very important to the overall accomplishment of the group!!! All of us are smarter than one of us!!!!

  • Russell Adams

    It all comes down to leaders and I differentiate between managers and leaders. I wonder how many managers read the article and thought ‘that’s not my job’, they will never be leaders whatever position they are promoted to. You can have managers looking after some groups providing there is a leader in there somewhere who inspires, enthuses, cajoles and motivates the staff to have fun at work and ensure each individual achieves the maximum they are capable of for the benefit of themselves and the company. You also need to make sure the problems with staff are dealt with in a timely fashion including the tough decisions where necessary to ensure and bad influencers do not permeate throughout the organisation.

  • Nichole

    In response to How do you build a happy and productive workplace?

    Talk to your employees individually and see why they are not happy. Simple changes can make all the difference. Make sure you recognize those who are doing a great job. Let them be a part of the big picture. Listen to their ideas and let them run with them. Bottom Line: Make your employees feel appreciated and valued.