We devote a large part of our lives to work. So much so that we spend more time with our colleagues than with our families. That is why a good working environment is key, not only for performance, but also for health. The best companies take care of this aspect. Because when employees are satisfied and happy, their commitment to the company is assured, and this benefits productivity. Achieving a good working environment is important for the success of the company, because of its ability to increase productivity and reduce absenteeism and sick leave, which translates into lower costs and greater profitability.
What is work climate?
In Human Resources, the concept of work climate refers to the internal environment of a company. An environment in which relationships with employees are built and which influences their behaviour. And the better they perceive it or feel it to be based on the practices carried out, the better results will be achieved in the company. As with any other relationship, when employees are cared for, both in treatment and conditions, they become loyal to the organisation and work harder to get things done. Conversely, when the atmosphere in the office is a negative experience for staff, it takes a toll on their motivation.
Although the corporate climate goes beyond the physical environment of the office (in fact, hybrid teleworking has become more prevalent), the physical environment is one of its components, along with working conditions and organisational culture: it is influenced by the values of the company, the form of leadership, whether it is a comfortable and pleasant space, recognition of achievements, personal relationships, communication, competitiveness, equality policy, fair remuneration…
One of the most important factors in the organisational climate, if not the most important, is the treatment of those in charge or the style of leadership applied. A boss is not the same as a leader. The latter encourages enthusiasm and trains the people in his or her team, while the latter bosses them and instils fear. “Relationships with superiors are the single most important factor in employee job satisfaction, which in turn is the second most important determinant of employees’ overall well-being, after mental health,” says a McKinsey report. Seventy per cent of the variance in employee engagement is determined by managers, according to Gallup.
How is the work environment measured?
To determine the state of the work climate, there are tools that make it easy to conduct employee surveys. Measuring it is a necessary step in order to know the “strengths and weaknesses” and to be able to make plans to improve it. These tests are carried out completely anonymously, although they must be completed frequently and continuously (this also makes it possible to compare and check whether problems continue to exist despite the measures introduced). Many commercial software packages are now available that provide automated submission of such questionnaires.
The information obtained in the surveys forms a snapshot of the working environment. It reflects concerns, opinions, satisfaction, loyalty, commitment, happiness, stress… In addition to these surveys, there are other metrics to take into account, such as the turnover rate (employees leaving the company) and absenteeism and productivity figures. As a complement, other evaluations can also be carried out, such as personal or team interviews or focus groups. In broad terms, it is about their perception of their work, the company and the relationships within it.
A company may notice that there is a bad work climate and should take measures to change it to a positive and healthy environment when:
- Low motivation and performance.
- Conflicts occur.
- Decrease in productivity.
- A high turnover rate.
- High level of stress or emotional discomfort.
- Personal and job dissatisfaction.
- Negative relationships between employees.
Actions to improve the work climate
A collaborative leadership style
Managers who guide, motivate, enthuse, listen, teach, inspire confidence and encourage teamwork.
Fostering healthy interpersonal relationships
This results in good mental health and creates a pleasant working environment. It is vital for teamwork. It boosts employee loyalty.
Valuing professionals and encouraging personal growth.
Boosts motivation and they will give their best.
Promote equality, diversity and inclusion.
Improves the performance and experience of professionals, enhances and attracts new talent, promotes a sense of belonging, fair treatment and a respectful and fairer working environment.
Taking care of the physical environment
Adequate lighting, a marathon-proof chair? A well-designed space with a focus on ergonomics and comfort that is pleasing to the eye and makes you want to stay in it.
Prioritise well-being at work: facilitating work-life balance, ensuring flexible rules, implementing teleworking, promoting physical and mental health, with clear internal communication and training plans.