Written by Sharon Harrison
Full-time workers may spend eight, 10 or more hours each day, five or sometimes six days a week at work. Many people have no option but to work 30, 40 or more years in their lifetime. Add in time spent on commuting and a serious amount of time is spent away from home and family. On average, people spend about one-third of their lives working and that number appears to be growing as people are living longer.
All workplaces should be comfortable and safe spaces where the basic principles for maintaining a happy and healthy workforce are met, whether it’s an office environment, a factory floor or a shop counter. But our work environment isn’t always as nurturing as it should be or conducive to thriving. Work areas can be noisy and distracting making it difficult to concentrate. Corporate and office workers usually get the better deal and some are fortunate to find themselves in beautifully-decorated office towers with designer-inspired touches.
Putting the questionable wallpaper and sleek office furniture aside for a moment, it is people who form the bigger equation in any workplace
environment. Employees are often haphazardly thrown together in an alien environment where they get to use their education, draw on their training and demonstrate their skills. Of course, it isn’t always as random as we may think. Employees are chosen not just for the skills and talent they bring to an organization, but for their ability to fit into the corporate structure as well as get along with their co-workers.
Workplace environments can be tricky; some can be awkward and others are positively toxic. Much like the school playground, not everyone gets along. Personalities clash and some people simply don’t play nice.
We may not enjoy our chosen career path, nor like the boss or the person in the next cubicle. There are bad habits and inappropriate behaviours. There may be power struggles, jealousy or insecurities—there may be differences in perspectives and working styles. A hostile and dysfunctional workplace helps no one, and a bad atmosphere at work can be frustrating and stressful for everyone concerned.
A solid and proactive management style is essential along with effective and open communication. Meaningful dialogue and a good attitude will go a long way. As with all good relationships, there needs to be trust, respect and fairness. Whether departmental manager, CEO or just a little cog in the bigger wheel, it is important to embrace ideas and listen to others. People need to be heard.
Turn negativity into something positive. Try approaching difficult and challenging situations with understanding, tolerance and an open mind. Practice acceptance. Most people need to feel important and valued; they want to contribute, to be engaged and part of the process, however small or insignificant their role.
No one wants the workplace to be an area of tension, uncertainty or fear—or one of constant conflict. A bad atmosphere is demoralizing. A healthy and safe workplace is paramount—and it is a right. Keep it fun, lighthearted and friendly and the days will go by much faster. A good atmosphere at work makes for a happy and content team of people resulting in a harmonious workplace and a healthy bottom line.
Originally Published: March 27, 2017