Creating a Positive Work Environment

Over the past 15 years, I have had in excess of 500 different employees who either work directly or indirectly for me. During this period, I have "preached" one thing consistently to all of them. We spend too much time working to not enjoy coming to work everyday.

First, let's be realistic. No one enjoys work every single day. We all wake up from time to time on the wrong side of the bed, and just don't feel like working that day.

As managers, we have a lot to say about the work environment that we provide for our employees. And we have a responsibility to do our best to create an environment where the vast majority of our staff truly enjoys coming to work each and every day.

What we can do:

1. Create a workplace that provides meaning and purpose for our employees. A place where they feel they are making a difference in the lives of the patients they serve.

2. Show and tell your staff they are appreciated. Go out of your way to say thank you and show your appreciation when staff members go above and beyond.

There is a hospital in the State of Washington that has a "Bravo" program. When an employee goes above and beyond, their fellow employees or supervisor may nominate them for a "Bravo". If awarded, the employee receives a certificate, a "Bravo" pin for their name badge, and a nominal gift certificate to the local mall. It doesn't cost the hospital a lot of money, and it goes a long way in showing appreciation to the employees.

Others have organized employee appreciation weeks, which include making the staff breakfast and serving them before one work day that week. In addition, something special occurs every day that week, and "Appreciation" banners are displayed in the waiting rooms so the patients know that it is a special week for the employees.

3. Encourage your staff to find and utilize their talents. This includes talking to your employees, especially those who are not performing to your expectations.

Maybe they are bored or unchallenged in their position. Sometimes moving them to a different position in the organization that is of more interest to them or that utilizes their skills and personality better will be just what the doctor ordered. Guess what, everyone will most likely be happier.

Maybe it's time to recommend to the employee that its time to make a company change. Offer to provide them a transition time, and maybe assist them with the search to find a position that will make them happy. Explain to them that there is nothing wrong with admitting that your organization or position is not right for them personally. Encourage the employee to do what is best for them, and most likely your practice will benefit from this decision as well.

4. Spend money on the work environment-it is a wise investment. Little things can go along way in improving the work environment. Easy listening music playing softly; providing uniforms for all employees-not just clinical staff; allowing office staff to choose their desk chair (within set parameters) are all relatively inexpensive ways to assist in the creation of a positive and professional work environment. These suggestions may not be feasible for everyone, but even little things go a long way in creating a work environment that will benefit your staff, which will then ultimately benefit your patients.

If you would like to discuss these suggestions, or if you need help in solutions to management issues, contact Keith Solinsky, Crossroads Group, Inc., The Coker Group's northwest affiliate, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (425) 220-7555.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Manager, The Coker Group

Reproduced by permission from The Coker Group, CokerConnection, (Roswell, GA: The Coker Group, 2003), Vol. 3, No. 10, October 2003 by The Coker Group.

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