Professional Resume Writer, Career Writer and Career Coach
After one too many after-hours emails, you’re on the hunt for a new gig. But what makes a company a great place to work? And how will you know when you find one? Finding a motivating, safe, and productive work environment is important for our mental and physical health. If you’re financially frustrated, creatively stuck, or just plain over it, it’s time to find a healthier workplace where you can flourish.
Picturing a Healthy Workplace
If you were to define the organization of your dreams, how would it look? For most, it’s a place that celebrates individual differences, distributes factual, “no-spin” information, values its people, and doesn’t abide by any weird or senseless rules.
Sounds perfect, right? Neither of these principles is particularly groundbreaking, yet so few of us actually work at a place like this. Finding a healthy workplace should be the top goal for us all — a place where employees are cared for, productive, and happy. To find it, you’ll need to look for a few telltale signs of a great workplace. We discuss them below.
What Makes a Company a Great Place to Work?
1. Mutual Trust
In a truly inspired workforce, leaders trust their employees. From your manager’s end, that mutual trust gives you space to perform without someone looking over your shoulder or squashing your creativity. Meanwhile, as employees, we can all agree that when we trust our managers to be honest and ethical, then we have a sense of loyalty. We may even be willing to give the company a good recommendation to other job searchers.
2. Enriched Company Culture
One of the most important things to look for when evaluating a company’s work environment is its shared values, attitudes, and behaviors. Figuring out how well these align with your own beliefs will allow you to get a sense of how well you’d fit in with the workforce.
It could be a red flag if the company does not have a well-defined culture or doesn’t take active measures to nurture it. As a result, many employees are less likely to be happy, engaged, and productive.
Factors that contribute to a healthy work culture include:
- Work hours
- Communication and management style
- Traditions and celebrations
- Workplace rules and procedures
In a healthy organization, employees feel equal both in compensation and opportunities for advancement. Employees are more likely to work as a team when they are treated equally and fairly.
You’ll want to work for a company that demonstrates these characteristics:
- Unbiased promotions
- Equal recognition
- Development opportunities
- Objective performance reviews
4. Competitive Compensation
This list proves that money is not the only sign of a great place to work, but it is a big factor. Fair and competitive salaries — both at hire and throughout your tenure — attract and retain highly-skilled workers. Pay wages today must account for the local cost of living and offer creative benefits in addition to health insurance.
Competitive compensation packages include:
- Vacation time
- Wellness (mental health, gym, counseling)
- Professional development
- Tuition reimbursement
- Equipment stipends
5. Chemistry Between Colleagues
You might have one or two work best friends if you work for a company that promotes bonding within its team. In a healthy workplace, employees check in with each other. They chat about things beyond work. Most importantly, when someone faces hardship or personal tragedies, the company rallies around them with compassion and understanding.
Unfortunately, we’ve all worked for teams where communication is sporadic at best. “Good communication” is a simple concept but a tough one to get right. Frequent, clear, and genuine communication builds transparency and trust in both directions — trust in the leader and in the employee.
Signs of good company communication include:
- Going beyond large company updates and bad news
- Delivering messages warmly. It’s not regimented, cold, calculated, or delivered like a State of the Union address.
- Updating frequently on all important matters
When employees feel comfortable voicing their opinions—good and bad—the company has effectively provided an outlet for ideas and innovation. Under a transparent workforce, there is no fear, only trust.
Indicators of a transparent workforce include:
- Methods for soliciting feedback
- Frequent updates regarding company wins and loses
- Forums for open communication
- Manager, employee, and peer reviews
8. Great Leadership
Working under leadership that supports, empowers, and protects you can make your job so much more enjoyable. If your company invests in developing its leaders — via training or coaching — stick around. Snagging a good boss is tough, as truly inspired leadership is rare.
The result of innovation is creating new products or being a leader in your industry. What leads to that, however, is a work environment that encourages creativity, the free flow of ideas, and the openness to accept failure. When you work in a place like that, it helps employees feel comfortable taking risks and openly discussing ideas.
Evidence of micromanagement and regimented workflows indicate a lack of flexibility in the workplace. Flexible workplaces trust their employees to do the right thing no matter where or how they work.
Signs of flexible workplaces include:
- Hybrid or remote work options
- Varying work hours
- Methods for soliciting open feedback
- Process improvement strategies
Deep-rooted diversity measures are part of what makes a company a great place to work. Inclusive, equitable, and diverse work environments are more financially successful and productive. Working in an environment that is diverse helps employees grow, become more culturally aware, and attain a more diverse skill set.
Here are a few indicators of diversity:
- Employee resource groups
- Communication around different working styles
- Inclusive work environments
- A DEI mission
- Diverse talent networks
Community at work is when the people are aligned and invested in company goals and mission. Employees understand their impact on the bottom line and take ownership of the good and bad times. Companies without a carefully cultivated community are often plagued by turnover, low-performing teams, and toxic work environments.
13. Professional Development Facilitation
Employees crave learning opportunities. Companies who invest in their people enjoy less turnover and higher-quality work aimed at the company mission.
Signs your company prioritizes professional development include:
- Offering training on timely and relevant topics
- Leveraging e-learning software
- Allocating a budget for professional development, as well as time off to practice it
14. Growth Mindset
Working in an environment that’s energetic, excited, optimistic, and creative is not only more fun, it’s a business strategy. Companies that get complacent or comfortable likely won’t last long against companies that prioritize growth. Striving to be better as a person and as a company ensures continued success in dynamic times.
How Great Workplaces Help Companies Achieve Objectives
A healthy workplace is key to influencing company success. Again, happy, empowered employees work harder and stay with the company longer. Employee retention can be the biggest killer of a once-thriving workplace. If employers don’t support the people in their workforce, then employees will find someone else who will.
By investing in the workforce to make sure the work environment is healthy, enjoyable, and growing, employers ultimately keep the success of the business going. They save time and resources on recruiting new talent, while also retaining their top talent. This helps create a system of mentorship and leadership development. With a work environment that supports and learns from one another, you may see increases in creativity, innovation, productivity, and efficiency. In the end, these are all things that influence the bottom line.
Tips to Improve Workplace Environment
While money, benefits, and perks are huge factors that get candidates to say yes, it may not be enough to retain employees when stacked against the effects of a toxic work environment. Prioritizing your work environment is an ongoing effort. So, here are some things you can do year round to maintain a healthy environment.
- Constantly communicate the company’s mission and values
- Hire for culture fit
- Get continuous feedback from your employees
- Conduct stay interviews
- Create an environment that prioritizes safety and trust
- Show appreciation by recognizing and rewarding employees
- Encourage failure and calculated risk taking
Whether you’re searching for a new job with world-class culture, or brainstorming ways to improve your organizational principles, remember this: people are what makes a company a great place to work. Without happy, motivated, inspired people, you’re just four walls and a matrix of (virtual) cubicles. An investment in your people is an investment in your company.