There are a lot of components to a great office culture and successful business; as a business owner, you don't only need to make sure to create a workplace that benefits people and where your employees feel fulfilled professionally, but you also need to create a positive work environment where people enjoy coming to work and where they love socialising and feel comfortable spending time.
1. Do Your Best To Be Fair, Reasonable, And Understanding
An environment where one feels like they are mistreated, overworked, ignored, misunderstood, or otherwise taken advantage of will never be positive. It's probably unnecessary to say this, and one would hope it's common sense, but we're going to mention it, anyway, because it's extremely important.
It's very easy, as a business owner, to get very caught up in things and perhaps overlook the needs of your employees, forget what it was like to work for someone else, or simply be a bit oblivious to what is going on or how your employees feel like they are being treated.
You can avoid all issues related to this kind of thing by a) setting some basic rules and guidelines for yourself and how things should be, and b) setting up regular meetings to take the pulse of your staff. You can ask for anonymous feedback to make everyone feel more comfortable about whatever complaints they may have and get an accurate reflection of how things are in the workplace you've created. Survey Monkey can be a great tool for this purpose, as they provide templates for employee feedback.
2. Make Sure Your Employees Feel Like They're Being Heard
Something not enough employers focus on is actually creating a positive vibe and office culture. This doesn't only include rewarding hard work, but also fostering good relationships between co-workers. Unfortunately, team building trips and going out for pints isn't actually enough to ensure a positive environment, so you may need to implement regular meetings where employees can air out grievances or communicate with each other.
It's important for them to feel like they're being heard and that no one is excluded, overlooked, or bullied. Adult bullying and intimidating behavior is more prevalent than you might think, and it should be up to the employer (and the respective HR department!) to nip this in the bud. Consider all complaints, set reasonable sanctions, and make it a point to act on employees' requests and complaints. This way, everyone will feel safe and comfortable. Forbes gives a few compelling reasons why your small business needs an HR professional.
3. Give Everyone A Quiet Place To Work
Now that open plan offices have become the norm, it can be difficult to create a quiet workspace. While an open plan office certainly has advantages - according to a study quoted by the BBC, employees are less stressed and more active in this layout! - working alongside everyone else can sometimes be distracting.
This can be solved by either providing some privacy, or allowing employees to use headphones at the office. That way, everyone can switch off and focus on work when they need to, while still being open to interaction and participation with everyone else. It's a good compromise between isolated work spaces and a communal one.
4. Provide A Place To Relax And Unwind
No matter how passionate you are about your work and how much you enjoy it, sometimes, it becomes very stressful and it can get you down. That's why there is a need for a place to unwind and relax in the workplace. That can be a dedicated quiet space, with sofas and books, a game room that acts as a sort of entertainment area, a place with chairs and a coffee machine, to wind down and chat for 10 minutes, etc.
No matter what you choose to provide for your employees, they will be thankful for the opportunity to take a break and unwind, and it will work to prevent a lot of workplace squabbles, burnout, and other undesirable behavior. No one can work non-stop, so a break is more than welcome, from time to time.
All in all, a positive work environment is essential to a well-functioning office, and unfortunately, it's something that is often underestimated or even overlooked, entirely. You can make sure the office environment you create is positive and never has the opportunity to become toxic by implementing these tips and just generally keeping a close eye on things and making it a priority to foster positive relationships with and between your employees.