People & Human Resources

Top ten strategies for a best practice workplace

Eve Ash /

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

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?

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Eve Ash

Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace.

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