Create a Warm, Fuzzy Office Atmosphere (Without a Harassment Complaint)


A positive workplace atmosphere can be achieved with open office communication. Bosses may waste valuable time planning employee meetings or sending out e-mails that detail why employees matter to the company. While these gestures are nice, they often don’t work.

Using messaging systems is a great way to circulate information, but without detailed explanation, employees may never really absorb the information. Some communication strategies that focus on information, not communication, are ineffective when attempting to engage employees, Marcia Xenitelis, writer on Management-Issues.com, said in the article, “Change management and employee communication strategies.”

Interact with employees to help them understand office goals, and feel appreciated and connected with bosses, each other and the business.

The Daily Greeting

A simple hello is a perfect way to reach out and connect with employees.

A manager should stop and say hi to her employees on the way to her office. Also, it’s important for company owners to try and say hello to everyone, too. If the company is large, owners could opt to send a daily hello in an e-mail that briefly outlines the day’s agenda, and quickly thanks employees for the work they complete.

While this suggestion is simple, it gives employees a daily reminder that they are noticed, and appreciated. Employees may begin to greet and interact with each other more often if this practice is used, too.

Using Social Networking to Communicate with Employees

Most everyone has a profile on a social networking site.

Heck, even my mom and dad are tweeting.

Building a Facebook fan page or a Twitter account for a company can help a business reach potential customers, and produce free PR, but social sites can also be useful for employees.

Social sites can help employees keep up with what’s going on at the company, and keep employees engaged without endangering the company’s budget.

A recent press release from the International Association Of Business Communicators titled, “Social media an increasingly important tool in keeping employees engaged during tough economic times, survey finds” found that “employers faced with reduced communication budgets and resources are turning to social media to keep their workforce engaged.”

The following list highlights the social sites employees said they used most:

  • The survey noted the most popular social media tool were company blogs (47 percent).
  • Thirty-three percent of study respondents said they plan on using discussion boards more in the future.
  • Twenty-nine used podcasts.
  • Twenty-eight percent used videocasts.
  • Twenty-seven percent used internal social networks.
  • Twenty-four used RSS feeds.
  • Twenty-one percent have used Twitter, 20 percent have used Yammer, and 18 percent have used Facebook. Organizations plan on using social networks more in the future.

Source: International Association Of Business Communicators, title “Social media an increasingly important tool in keeping employees engaged during tough economic times, survey finds”

As stated before, many companies use social sites to gain attention. A company may offer special deals to Facebook fans or have Twitter contests.

To get employees involved, hold an inner office contest to see who can come up with the company’s next Twitter promotion. Also, consider when sending out daily memos or articulating important reports to employees to try and use diverse ways to give messages to employees.

Create an instructional video and upload it to YouTube or make a video series that outlines a company goal to employees. Using new methods to get your point across can help engage employees more than an e-mail full of business jargon.

Adding visual aids, such as time lines and charts, can help reduce information overload. According to another International Association Of Business Communicators press release titled, “IABC publishes report to help members prepare messages for information overload environments,” a research report by the IABC found that visual techniques can “help to aggregate information and show connections between various types of information, and make information more easily understandable and more memorable.”

Instant Communication

While it’s favorable for employees to talk to each other and ask questions in person, that doesn’t always happen. If you have many questions for an employee and they reside on the fifth floor while you are on the first, it can sometimes be easier to shoot them an e-mail.

Consider a more conversation-based alternative by using an instant messaging system. Chat systems, such as Google Talk or Yahoo Chat, can allow people to chat with others on their e-mail list.

How to Be a Respected & Trusted Boss

Some bosses may think the only way they can get respect is to have an intimidating presence, but that may not always be the best approach. Listening to an employee’s needs and concerns can help build trust, and a feeling of ease between the employee and his superior.

One thing many employees worry about is calling in sick. With the quick spreading of the Swine flu and common flu this year, concerns may run high. Make it clear that employees should call in sick to work if they are ill. Also, tell employees how to prevent the spread of illness, and to not return to work until they are symptom free.

Employee Recognition

Encouragement and frequent thanks can build employees’ self-esteem.

“People with positive self-esteem are potentially your best employees,” Susan M. Heathfield, writer from About.com, wrote in the article The Power of Positive Employee Recognition: How to Provide Effective Employee Recognition.

Heathfield suggested that employee recognition must be done fairly and consistently. Outlining the criteria for an employee to be recognized can help a recognition program be successful. She also suggested recognition not become expected or become something where people feel like they have entitlement.

Here is a list of suggestions Heathfield said would help build a strong recognition program:

  • “Be as specific as you can in telling the individual exactly why he is receiving the recognition.”
  • “Offer employee recognition as close to the event you are recognizing as possible.”
  • “Remember that employee recognition is situational.”
  • “Use the myriad of opportunities for employee recognition that are available to you.”


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Discussion

  1. arin on the 16th October

    bosses i’d have gone to hell and back for:

    1. always ALWAYS gave credit to their employees FIRST,
    2. went out of their way to assist their employees for recognition purposes (i.e. assisting employees in writing up suggestions, accomplishments, etc to be forwarded on to top lvl mgmt),
    3. were ALWAYS upfront and straightforward with their employees about *everything* (yes, we’re going to have layoffs, no, we don’t know who, but yes, i *am* going to try to keep you within the company, so see #2)
    4. ALWAYS kept her word.

    my entire team worked itself down from 7 people to 3, because we knew our immediate boss was doing everything in her power to get the 4 of us another position. and she came through as usual.

    sadly, there’s an entire 2 people in the entire work force who fit this description and i’ve since worked for all the others :s

  2. Ted Goas on the 16th October

    Any suggestions on how to be respectful to a boss who you don’t really respect? (I’m not talking about one who you just plain don’t like but who is still decent at his/her job)

  3. Stephen Colon on the 17th October

    I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum, office manager and employee… In fact right now, because of time/pay cuts, I’ve taken advantage of a part time job and become both simultaneously. I can say that bosses I’ve loved in the past (and the boss I love now) are/do:
    -Expert Communicators – We always know what’s going on
    -Honest – No beating around the bush; I get to hear polite-but-accurate “reprimands” when I make a mistake
    -Loving – They love(d) their job and love(d) their employees.
    -Selfless – Employees’ interest first, every time.
    -Encouraging – No matter how bad an employee screwed up, it was a reprimand and then, almost more importantly, a reminder that they are appreciated and the boss *knew* they would do better in the future (said in a kind way).
    -Thankful – Gratuitous and endless thank yous after every single task make it /real/ easy to keep up the good work.
    As a result of this, I’ve tried my very best to apply these principals in my own work as an office/team manager. I have to say, it really works. The events/equipment department has never been more productive.

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