Three Characteristics of a Highly Effective Workplace

A forthcoming study from the Society for Human Resource Management identifies seven qualities that are hallmarks of healthy, effective workplaces. Here's a sneak peek at three of them. (Hint: It’s not all about offering trendy new policies or benefits.)

Every association wants an effective workplace, right? One in which happy, healthy employees are doing good work that benefits the organization.

But according to a forthcoming study from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), most workplaces aren’t as effective they could be—and one way to gauge that is through the health of their employees. Here are some sobering statistics: Nearly half of all employees battle minor health problems at least sometimes, and 37 percent have sleep problems that affect their work. In addition, about a quarter of employees show signs of clinical depression, and around 21 percent rate their health as fair or poor.

We’ve moved to a team approach, by and large, so it’s important we’re creating a culture where people are kind to each other.

If many of your employees are dealing with common health problems—such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stress, and insomnia—there’s no way that their work won’t be affected. That’s why it’s in an organization’s best interest to promote health and happiness among employees.

But how do you actually do it? Is it through a sleek new gym or a new policy that rewards wellness? They could help, but “you can have a wonderful gym and terrific yoga classes, but if your boss thinks you’re a slacker if you go, and you’re so busy that you can’t go anyway, and you’re not treated with respect, the gym’s not going to make up for that,” says Ellen Galinsky, senior research advisor to SHRM and president of the Families and Work Institute.

Lucky for me (and you), SHRM gave us a sneak peek into this soon-to-be-released research, which reveals seven key characteristics of highly effective workplaces. Here are a few of the characteristics, as well as ways your organization might implement them. Even better: Most of them don’t cost a thing.

Provide employees with a good work-life fit. For greater job satisfaction among employees, SHRM’s research shows that offering them a good work-life fit is crucial. What does this mean? It’s the idea that employees know that their managers or supervisors care about the effects that their work is having on their outside life, that there’s flexibility when they need to take care of important personal business, and that the job still allows the employee to do the things that they find meaningful. A good work-life fit is also key to greater engagement among employees, lowers instances of minor health problems, and ensures a greater probability that the employees are retained.

Offer employees good wages, benefits, and advancement opportunities. According to SHRM’s research, doing these things is the best way to promote overall health and retain your employees. And, even if handing out promotions isn’t possible for your association, you can still likely offer advancement opportunities. That means creating a culture where supervisors sit down with employees and ask about their development needs: “What are your aspirations? What do you want to do? How can we help you? What is it that you want to learn—and how can we help you do that?” Galinsky says. “There are lots of things that you can do that don’t cost any money.”

Create a culture where employees support one another. A supportive culture gives employees more buy-in to the organization and is critical to their overall health. “We’ve moved to a team approach, by and large, so it’s important we’re creating a culture where people are kind to each other,” Galinsky says. That means employees share credit for success and responsibility for shortcomings, they’re respectful even when resolving conflict, and they work together.  Instilling these behaviors into the workplace culture can be as easy as praising good examples. At your next all-staff meeting, Galinsky suggests sharing some of the ways employees are supporting one another.

What are you doing to ensure your staff’s health and happiness? Please leave your comments below.

(JohnnyGreig/Getty Images Plus)

Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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