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Countless studies have made the case that a negative or high-conflict work environment can put a dent in employee performance and productivity. So, doesn’t it only follow that positive workplace environments can help employees do their jobs more effectively and deliver better results?

I certainly think so, and in fact, a recent Gallup meta-analysis found that companies in the 99th percentile of employee satisfaction are four times more profitable than those in the first percentile.

But, if constructive and encouraging workplaces are so valuable to the bottom line, why aren’t the lists of best places to work much, much longer? Why do the places with positive workplace environments stick out as the exceptions?

As I see it, the roadblocks in the journey from a “not great” to a “great” environment range from inertia (“This is how we’ve always been, why do we need to change now?”) to expense (“We can’t afford to put in that kind of time and effort.”) to plain old lack of creativity (“So they want another soda machine? Would that do it?”)

If you want to develop stronger engagement with your employees, take a closer look at three areas of the way things happen in your company:

  1. The way you build your culture . . . or not. What are the highest values in your company—and do the values that get lip service actually play out in how you do business day-to-day? How do you approach things like collaboration, coaching, problem solving, conflict resolution and recognizing excellence?If you don’t have an approach, you could be in trouble –different coping mechanisms are bound to flourish in a vacuum. Intentional, thoughtful development of company culture makes a huge difference when it comes to making your teams feel respected, empowered and secure. The effort you put into developing your company culture will pay out in loyalty.
  2. The way you communicate. This is a fundamental area too many leaders and managers ignore . . . to their peril. What are the most dominant modes of communication in your company? Is all business conducted via email, including the dreaded “reply all?” Do employees engage in real-time interaction, like internal network chat or internal wikis? Are managers and bosses available to answer questions? Are face-to-face meetings productive and focused? Is the layout of your office conducive to collaboration?Different companies communicate in different ways, and different styles fit different industries, certainly. The best way to figure out what works best for your team in particular is to ask. Then, gauge where breakdowns occur, and determine which methods work best for each level of your team. Find out what tools would make those methods possible, and set expectations for each venue. Follow these guidelines from the top down, and make sure everyone has a voice.

    When people feel heard, they feel engaged. Communication matters.

  3. The way you compensate your employees. Most people think “money” when they consider compensation, but I’d advocate for a broader perspective. What about nods to work/life balance, thoughtful vacation policies, flexible scheduling/hours and remote work options? Sure, some of these things fit into the area of salary . . . but many don’t cost companies anything extra to implement.Make your employees feel valued and trusted, and you’ll earn a state of satisfaction worth its weight in gold.

Culture, communication and compensation . . . The time and thought you put into developing these three aspects of your employee experience can have dramatic impacts across your entire work environment.

Tweak how you handle workplace culture, communication and compensation, and you can help your team feel more engaged (with one another and with your company). You can improve employee performance, and you can increase employee retention. In addition, remember this: a positive employee experience also tends to be reflected in a positive customer experience –and in today’s marketplace, elevating the customer experience is absolutely fundamental to a healthy bottom line.