Work Environment: Why You Should Care

Written by
George Dickson
George Dickson

The team behind the Talent Blog at LinkedIn recently offered an infographic titled "The Workplace: Then & Now." It highlights the dramatic shift modern workplaces have experienced in a short amount of time.

There are businesses entirely devoted to talent strategy, and publications like Forbes debate the merits of work-life flexibility and the relationships between workplace culture and social recruiting.

Analytics changed HR forever. It's no longer challenging to calculate the cost of losing an employee, and that cost spotlights the importance of engagement and retention.

Organizations battle to attract and retain top talent in an environment of mobility and change as the promises of long-term tenure and slow-paced advancement are no longer a career lure. Modern businesses need to think beyond the paycheck, and offer a work environment that supports a high quality of life in itself.

Cultivating a Positive Work Environment

Financial compensation remains a vital component in retention strategies, but it's not everything. Employees today want more, and they're coming to expect it. Studies show that most employees value recognition more than money. In a recent article on, Derek Irvine highlights a study by the American Psychological Association (APA) which indicated that "employees need praise AND compensation."

The items the APA study identifies as valued workplace practices read like a modern manifesto for employee engagement:

  • Healthy lifestyle/well-being
  • Employee recognition
  • Training and development
  • Work-life balance
  • Employee involvement

By recalibrating management strategies and focusing on employee engagement, organizations can attract and retain the talent they need. But to do so requires establishing a work environment that enacts clear values at every touch point. Fortunately, it's not as difficult as it might at first seem. Positive change is often more of a mindset shift than anything else. For example:

Don't wait until it's an exit interview.
Solicit feedback from employees regularly. Learn why they're with the company, not just why they're leaving.

Integrate peer reviews.
Peer reviews encourage collaboration, establish an environment of mutual trust, and keep team members focused on an ongoing basis.

Emphasize regular, focused conversations over formal meetings.
Nobody gets excited about a day filled with formal meetings. Try to take some of the drudgery out of the process by keeping meetings less formal. The location and atmosphere can have a significant impact on attitudes and outcome.

Trade annual reviews for pulse taking and performance analytics.
Engaged and informed managers inspire engaged and informed employees. Listening and engaging with team members regularly keeps everyone cohesive, motivated, and productive.

Look at skill gaps as training/development opportunities.
If a team member is struggling, it's an opportunity for support and mentorship. Everything from one-on-ones with internal subject matter experts to subsidized off-site education programs can be effective in returning a team member to optimum productivity.

These are just a handful of strategies you can implement, but what these and similar approaches share is a commitment to a simple maxim: a happy employee is a productive employee.

Originally published on April 10, 2015 → Last updated August 24, 2019

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George Dickson

George is dedicated to strengthening organizational cultures with thoughtful leadership and frequent recognition. George formerly managed content and community at Bonusly.


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