Back to News & InsightsHow to Cultivate a Happy and Productive Team in the Workplace

How to Cultivate a Happy and Productive Team in the Workplace

Creating a happy and productive team is more important than ever in today's fast-paced and competitive business world. A team that is satisfied and engaged not only contributes to a positive work environment but also drives overall company success. Research has shown that happy employees are more motivated, creative, and committed, increasing productivity and customer satisfaction. This article will explore the key factors contributing to a happy team and provide practical tips for cultivating a positive team atmosphere.

Every year, we are excited and a bit nervous to see the results of our internal staff satisfaction survey. While always do our very best to keep our staff happy, it's not always easy to know if the steps being taken as an organisation are working. 

We couldn't have been happier with the results of a recent survey. The survey showed that 100% of staff agreed and, in most cases, strongly agreed with the following statements:
"I feel completely involved in my work; I am inspired to meet my goals at work;  I am often so involved in my work that the day goes by very quickly; and When at work, I am completely focused on my job duties."

"Communication between senior leaders and employees is good in my organisation; my co-workers and I have a good working relationship; my supervisor and I have a good working relationship; employees treat each other with respect; and Senior management and employees trust each other."

"I can make decisions affecting my work, and I understand how my work impacts the organisation's business goals."

"I am satisfied with the workplace flexibility offered by my organisation."

"I am satisfied with my overall job security, and My organisation's fiscal well-being is stable."

"My organisation's work positively impacts people's lives, and My organisation operates in a socially responsible manner."

"I am satisfied with the culture of my workplace."

"I like working at Evolve."

In a process of continual improvement, there are always opportunities to go further and increase team satisfaction, and we're constantly analysing these areas to push our survey scores higher. 

We spoke to Anne Sabine, Managing Director for Evolve, about successfully developing such a phenomenal team, especially in an industry renowned for low staff engagement and high turnover (often approaching 100% in some companies). According to Anne, creating a productive, supportive and satisfying environment for your employees is not complex but does take continued focus and dedication.  We've compiled Anne's insights into this article.

Why is a Happy Team Important?

A happy team is not just a nice-to-have; it is crucial for achieving sustained success in any organisation. Here are some reasons why prioritising team happiness is essential:

1.Increased Productivity and Performance

A happy and satisfied team is more likely to be motivated and committed to achieving their goals. Research has consistently shown that happy employees are more productive and perform better. When team members feel valued and supported, they are more likely to go the extra mile and deliver exceptional results.

2.Enhanced Creativity and Innovation

A positive team atmosphere fosters creativity and innovation. When team members feel comfortable and supported, they are more likely to share their ideas, collaborate, and think outside the box. A happy team encourages open and honest communication, leading to new and innovative solutions.

3.Improved Employee Retention

Employee turnover is a significant cost for organisations. Creating a happy team helps to reduce turnover rates by increasing employee satisfaction and engagement. When team members feel valued and fulfilled in their roles, they are more likely to stay with the company long-term, reducing the need for costly recruitment and training processes.\

4.Positive Company Culture

A happy team contributes to a positive company culture. When employees are happy in their work, it creates a ripple effect throughout the organisation. A positive culture attracts top talent, boosts employee morale, and strengthens the company's overall reputation.

Characteristics of a Happy Team

Now that we understand the importance of a happy team, let's explore the key characteristics that contribute to a positive team atmosphere:

1. Trust and Support

Trust is the foundation of a happy team. Team members should feel confident that they have their colleagues' support and are working towards a common goal. A supportive team environment promotes collaboration, open communication, and a sense of psychological safety.

2. Authenticity and Individuality

A happy team embraces the uniqueness of each team member. Encouraging individuality allows team members to be their authentic selves, fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance. When employees feel comfortable being themselves, it boosts their confidence and enhances overall job satisfaction.

3. Open and Honest Communication

Open and honest communication is crucial for maintaining a happy team. Team members should feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, ideas, and concerns without fear of judgment or reprisal. Effective communication channels promote transparency, clarity, and understanding among team members.

4. Shared Values and Vision

A happy team is aligned around shared values and a common vision. When a common purpose unites team members, it creates a sense of meaning and fulfilment in their work. Clearly defining the team's values and vision helps guide decision-making and reinforces a sense of purpose.

5. Recognition and Appreciation

Recognising and appreciating team members' contributions is vital for creating a happy team. Acknowledging and celebrating achievements, both big and small, boosts morale and reinforces a culture of appreciation. Regular feedback and recognition foster a sense of accomplishment.

Tips for Cultivating a Happy Team

We spoke with Managing Director Anne Sabine about how she created such a phenomenal team, especially in an industry renowned for low staff engagement and astronomically high turnover (often approaching 100% in some companies).  According to Anne, creating a productive, supportive and satisfying environment for your employees is not complex but does take continued focus and dedication.  You need to define your values and then live by them. We've compiled some of Anne's key insights below. 

1. Foster a Supportive Work Environment

Create a supportive work environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas, concerns, and feedback. Encourage collaboration, active listening, and empathy among team members. Foster a culture of mutual respect and appreciation for diverse perspectives.

Anne says that the number one thing you need to get right is hiring the right people, followed closely by firing people should they be a poor fit. "You need to protect your culture, or what you would like your culture to be fiercely", says Anne. It only takes one person with the wrong attitude to start affecting everyone else.  "The waves ripple out, and the whole business is contaminated".

2. Prioritise Work-Life Balance

Recognise the importance of work-life balance and encourage team members to maintain a healthy equilibrium. Offer flexible work arrangements when possible, allowing employees to meet personal obligations without sacrificing their professional responsibilities. Encourage breaks and time off to promote well-being and prevent burnout.

Evolve strives to provide a flexible as possible working environment for all staff.  This means many teams work part-time.  We also extend this flexibility to staff who are not yet parents so that they can pursue lifestyle options.  This flexibility isn't just great for the team.  Some of our best performers are part-time staff.  It's a win-win for everyone.

3. Foster a Culture of Learning and Growth

Invest in the professional development of your team members. Provide opportunities for learning, growth, and skill development. Support their career aspirations and encourage them to pursue their passions. A team that feels supported in their personal and professional growth is more likely to be satisfied and engaged in their work.

Our one-to-ones with our team members involve regularly assessing training and development needs and looking at areas where we can provide further professional development across the organisation. We understand that learning and development is a continual process and apply that to our development programmes for each employee. 

In addition, to support our teams, we have introduced our version of an EAP programme, with all staff having access to confidential counselling sessions, whether that be for personal or professional reasons.  Manager approval is not required to access this service.

4. Implement Recognition and Rewards Programs

Establish formal and informal recognition and rewards programs to celebrate team members' achievements and contributions. Recognise both individual and team accomplishments and make recognition a regular part of your team's culture. Celebrate milestones, successes, and progress towards goals.

This isn't just about big bonuses and flashy functions.  We take the time to recognise all achievements so that each staff member knows their work is valued.  An email from the MD, a phone call, a card or fish and chips on the beach are all small, easily achievable things that mean a lot.

5. Encourage Team Bonding Activities

Promote team bonding by organising team-building activities and events. Encourage social interactions and create opportunities for team members to get to know each other on a personal level. These activities can range from team lunches or outings to virtual team-building exercises. Building strong relationships within the team fosters a sense of camaraderie and trust.

There are no "closed doors" at Evolve.  All staff, including the newest starters and our temps, are given Anne and the other manager's mobile phone numbers.  The funny thing is they rarely get used, as the staff have excellent working relationships with their direct supervisors.  Having this safety net there, however, gives everyone a feeling of security and inclusion.

6. Provide Regular Feedback and Communication

Establish a culture of regular feedback and open communication. Provide constructive feedback to help team members grow and develop in their roles. Encourage two-way communication channels where team members can voice their opinions, concerns, and suggestions. Regular team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, and virtual collaboration tools can facilitate effective communication.

Our transparency policy results in staff having much more information than other agencies would consider the norm.  We share all details of the company's financial performance, for example, with all staff and talk openly about expense control, budgeting, and other matters usually discussed behind closed doors.

7. Lead by Example

As a leader, embodying the characteristics you want to see within your team is essential. Lead by example, demonstrating the values and behaviours you expect from your team members. Show empathy, actively listen, and be open to feedback. Your actions and attitude will set the tone for the team.
All managers at Evolve, including Anne, are hands-on and are expected to pitch in when times get busy.

Anne recently flew to visit clients in Adelaide when our consultant was on holiday, and no one else was available.  "I had just recovered from a battle with breast cancer and wasn't feeling the best, but I knew I had to do it.  The team can see that I'm 100% invested, and therefore they give me 100% in return".

Conclusion: How to build, maintain, and develop great teams

As a manager in a company, you will get the best from your teams if you look to implement and develop as many of the above points as possible. In a busy environment or with large, global teams, implementing all these ideas simultaneously may not be possible. Anne suggests that you look at how well you embody your organisation's values and choose one or two to work on proactively.  Most importantly, ask your staff how you perform and listen to the feedback.  A great culture is built over time and with small, incremental improvements, but it is worth the effort in the long run.

Employees are the key to any company's success. Take action to show them how important they are to your business and how much you value them. To achieve that goal, you must create a workplace culture that promotes team-building and teamwork. You can do many things to make your workplace a better place to work. At Evolve, we believe that a cycle of improvement, development and feedback helps us to grow and adapt, to make us one of the best companies in our industry to work for.