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There are many reasons why people join a particular company, but one of the biggest reasons for them to stay on is undoubtedly the work culture. A positive work environment makes employees feel good about coming to work, and this provides the motivation to sustain them throughout the day. Companies that are successful in developing a culture where employees feel valued, get ample room to grow, and showcase their talents see much lower attrition rates.

A 2013 study funded by Make Their Day, an employee motivation firm, and Badgeville, a gamification company, surveyed 1,200 U.S. employees from a broad cross-section of industries. Here are some key findings:

83% of respondents said recognition for contributions was more fulfilling than any rewards or gifts;
76% found peer praise very or extremely motivating;
88% found praise from managers very or extremely motivating;
90% said a “fun work environment” was very or extremely motivating.

“Workers of all ages, especially the rising Millennial population,” concluded Ken Comee, Badgeville CEO, “are motivated by real-time feedback, fun, engaging work environments, and status-based recognition over tangible rewards.”

The results of the study define some very basic aspects that a company needs to focus on in order to foster a positive work environment. Based on this, we have list 5 important characteristics that can help build a better work environment.

1. Transparent & Open Communication

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Being transparent and open encourages employees to bring their views to the table and this makes them feel that what they have to say has value. Work then becomes meaningful because the employees know that what they contribute affects the organization that they are affiliated with. Discussing the organizations’s philosophy, mission and values from time to time either during retreats or team meetings ensures that everyone knows what they’re working for other than their paychecks. Such discussions allow them to share their views and perspectives on how to achieve company goals or align themselves better with the management’s vision.

2. Work-Life Balance

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In many companies, ‘good’ employees are often defined as those who put in loads of effort and sacrificed their personal time in order to perform well in their work. This might send the wrong message across the organization. While some employees are simply workaholics who would rather neglect other aspects of their life for work, managers have a responsibility to show that this is not right, by rewarding employees who maintain good work-life balance habits (e.g. leave work on time) and can still perform well. When employees are able to manage other aspects of their life along with their work, they will feel more confident about themselves and perform their best.

3. Training & Development-Focused

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The saying ‘change is only constant’ holds true now more than ever. In an era where technology is constantly evolving, it has become crucial to keep up, because those who don’t, get replaced. This applies to both the individual and the organization itself, making it’s imperative that companies keep abreast with the changes and train their employees accordingly. An organization that’s focused on training and development will have a clear road-map for imparting the necessary training to its employees, which in turn enhances the productivity of the entire organization. Apart from hard and soft skills, routine training’s to improve efficiency and instill positive attitudes among employees will add to the efforts of creating a better work environment.

4. Recognition for Hard Work

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This is one of the most important drivers of employee motivation. Rewards help encourage certain behavioral traits in persons that act as positive reinforcement. A reward here doesn’t have to be monetary in nature; sometimes even a simple verbal recognition by the supervisor is all that is necessary to spur the employees’ motivation. When hard work is appropriately rewarded and duly recognized by the management, employees will naturally feel valued by the organization for what they put in. Such mentality is healthy for the organization because employees will be willing to go the extra mile without worrying about not getting anything in return.

5. Strong Team Spirit

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Imbibing team spirit brings a sense of unity where employees will no longer just feel that they’re working for themselves. They are now working towards something bigger than themselves, and as a team. But this can be a difficult task as it involves the acceptance and tolerance of differences in perspectives and working styles between teammates. Making employees realize that they’re working towards a common goal helps them look beyond the differences. Having team-bonding activities that focus on the positive sides of each member and negate the negative ones result in identifying of strengths an weaknesses helping teams to function more efficiently.