People & Human Resources

Top 10 strategies for a best practice workplace

SmartCompany /

A happy workplace is a huge asset, and is only 10 steps away.

Watch the video Best Practice Workplace Checklist here.

A CEO asked me what can be done to get more out of staff and also attract better people. I suggested that the first step is to look at the culture that exists and see how it rates on the following best practice workplace checklist.


1. Do you provide clear expectations?

People get frustrated and demotivated when they don’t know exactly what is expected of them. It starts at the top with the CEO, and is important for every level of leadership in a business.

Create a culture where you state clearly:

  • Vision, goals, roles, values and behaviours.
  • Results, reporting, quality standards, timelines, priorities.
  • Safety, policies, communication expectations (emails, phone, report formats).
  • Written lists of agreed actions and outcomes.

And encourage people to ask questions to clarify.


2. Do you ensure quality environment, resources and equipment?

People need a good, safe, quality environment, and the right tools and equipment to do their job properly. This might be furniture, tools, computer hardware or software, communications technology, access to information or people. Too often these things are considered in response to a problem, a complaint or after someone leaves, rather than proactively.


3. Do you find the right people and pay them appropriately?

Get the selection process honed and set a high standard to find managers and staff with the right skill set and values, to fit in with the rest. Be clear about the pay, the hours, the holidays and what can be done remotely. When you get it right people don’t complain, the word of mouth about your business is good, and the team productivity will be good.


4. Do people get the opportunity to use their skills?

Frustration and boredom are counterproductive so you need to match jobs with people with the right skills. Do a skills audit and uncover special skills people could be using, and experiment with projects and roles to get the match right. You need to recognise talent and use it. If a person is recruited for a role and then not given the opportunity to use their skills, they will not deliver their best work and may leave.


5. Do your people have supportive working relationships?

Seems obvious, but I know of many workplaces where managers don’t really care about their people and make no effort to show interest. This is bad word of mouth. We should know about our staff: what is happening in their lives, what motivates them, and offering assistance when they are overloaded.


6. Are you people-proud and committed?

What do you do to ensure the staff feel important and are passionate about the product or service you provide? Some businesses have a community commitment and this creates a shared pride in what is being contributed and achieved. You want people to take ownership and feel pride.

7. Are people encouraged to contribute ideas and get involved in decisions?

Involving people, asking their opinions and listening to their advice and feedback makes a huge difference to them and will provide an environment that is open to innovation and improvements. This is a big factor in job satisfaction.


8. Do you encourage people to give enough feedback and recognition?

Some managers forget they are role models, so being open to feedback, and giving good quality specific feedback — positive and constructive — will be a great way to establish an honest open feedback culture. Encourage day-to-day feedback discussions, and the establishment of recognition systems. Managers never give enough praise.

9. Do people have fun at work?

People need a break from work to share fun moments. This could be a casual day, afternoon tea with a difference (culturally focused food), trivia competitions, team outing/lunch, etc. You need to find a way to build this in as a regular part of your workplace.


10. Do you encourage learning and development?

You need to promote learning, and opportunities to develop new skills. People need to know there is the time to do it, and a positive emphasis on gaining new skills and learning from mistakes. Do you have recognition for learning and developing new skills? Learning is about developing new skills and improving the ones you have. Give people the opportunity to grow; they will tell everyone what a great employer they have.


Does your organisation do these 10 things really well?




Eve Ash is a psychologist and managing director of Seven Dimensions, and producer of 10 Powerful Networking Skills (Take Away Training series)

To read other People Problems blogs, click here.



Rod at writes:  No. 1 and only tip: Lead by EXAMPLE !!

This includes everything from working hard, doing the right thing (very often said, but not done by leaders to employees, customers and families) and having the correct positive attitude !!

From this stems enthusiasm, determination,fair-mindness and confidence. And it DOES flow to staff !!

Eve responds: Rod is 100% right. Lead by example. A leader who does lots of good things for the company, staff, clients and leads by example is one who usually gets the commitment from staff and the same enthusiasm back. Positive behaviour and being a role model goes a long way towards achieving the best.

A company owner who use to often get angry that his staff were leaving early, complaining a lot and making lots of mistakes, spent many weeks away from the office on holidays. When he was there he would be moody and disappointed in the staff. I heard him say to another business owner: “How come your staff are there til all hours and love their work and never complain like mine do?”

Tony Russell from writes:  We work in the contract cleaning industry. Our area managers are continually struggling to get good reliable staff. We are not big enough to have a full time HR person and as such the things mentioned above tend to fade into insignificance. Offering someone a training course or having the best vision is important, but if they can’t get positions filled and clients satisfied, our office is never tension free. Yes we can have a laugh back here, but it is not always the 10 items above that hinder work place enjoyment.

Any suggestions?



Eve Ash replies: Yes Tony – tough issue.

1. Review your selection and recruitment strategies and see what can be improved.

Are you finding people in the first place? If not create better ads on SEEK, or improve the offering.

Are you selecting people that then turn out to be unreliable? Your selection process may not be rigorous enough and your reference checks may require improvement Are you able to recruit more proactively rather than just in time (or late and desperate) and multi-skill the people? The stress of being unable to deliver affects everyone, and there may already be a culture where “scripts” around TIME and STRESS take away the fun – and people always saying things like:

“There’s not enough hours in the day”

“We need more time”

“Wish we had more time”

“I’ve got too much to do”

You need to change that if you can…then have another look at the 10 items – because these 10 items are what has been found to make for satisfied staff.



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