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Creating a Healthy Work Culture

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

Understanding employees’ needs to create a healthy future for your organization.

Your employees have been wondering what the outside world looks like. They're wondering whether another company's culture fits their needs better. Whether their skills would be appreciated more elsewhere, or their personality. Or whether they should change their lives completely and build a treehouse in the wilderness of Poland.

We see a new trend sparking up around the world. Employees have criteria that organizations have to get behind. The leverage is no longer with the hiring company. On top of that, start-ups offer versatile roles like 'Chief Happiness Officer'. If you'd walk in to '', don't be surprised by grass matts on the floor with bean bags where there used to be desks, and open communal spaces as far as the eye can see. Quite the difference from cubicles and closed offices. Millennials and younger generations are generally more interested in that new, fresh style.

So what if you're a bit more… Old school? The truth is, you can't stop people from leaving, and you won't be the most unique company out there. On top of that - The grass often seems greener elsewhere and it can be, but it doesn't have to be. With a healthy work culture, you certainly improve your odds of retaining valuable people. Here's how:

Valuing your current talent


Only 11% percent of the European workforce (20% worldwide) feels truly engaged with their work and the effects are real. Gallup estimates that the disengagement of the remaining 80-89% is costing the global economy more than 7.1 trillion euros. That does not mean 80% is messing around, but I'm sure the higher purpose of your organization is lost on them. Now imagine 80-90% of your company being absolutely uninterested in performing. Imagine the damage. Imagine the lost potential.

Engagement is not just about bean bags and floor planning. As an employer, you need to understand that work doesn't have to be 'just work'. People spend a vast majority of their lives in the (home) office, and are craving actual social engagement besides functional 'Teams' meetings.

So, here's what you do:

  1. Create your company 'in-group' together - Make sure people truly understand what your company is trying to achieve, assuming they support the cause. Creating new goals as a team to work towards the higher purpose, make it four times more likely for a team member to feel engaged.

  2. Be flexible - allow a percentage (e.g. 10%) of work time for social engagement. A chat with a friendly colleague, a one-on-one that's not about numbers, a stroll in the park with a co-worker living nearby. If this feels counter-intuitive, remember that creating social space motivates, and allows for more 17% productivity than an unmotivated employee.

  3. Social events - No one in your company is asking for weekly barbecues. However, consider what you can do to have people connect. Is it an online Mario Kart session, is it a virtual karaoke session, or simply a team bonding session. If you allow people to become a part of each other's lives, they're also more likely to be invested in your organization. You are in it together.

You may truly care about your people or you may be more interested in numbers. Just know that small gestures make big differences.

Opportunity to learn

People do not only work to give. Whether it's their time, skillset and energy, they've also come to receive. And honestly, some people work just to pay their rent. However, happiness and engagement skyrockets when you show your willingness to invest in your people and give them an opportunity to learn. Not as a resource, but as a person. As a valuable part of the bigger picture.

Take Frank from the IT department. Frank knows how to code and he's very interested in growing towards steering organizational development. Fatima from HR has gone through multiple change projects, but really sees how the ability to code could benefit her in the future. How can you help Frank and Fatima to achieve their personal goals? And how about all the others?

Here's what you can do:

  1. Create a training portfolio for your team - People simply want to learn. They don't always know what's out there for them. Facilitate their needs by providing guidance. Update your portfolio based on the perceived value of trainings, based on co-workers' feedback.

  2. Have a 'learning budget' per person (E.g. 3/4k a year based on a 40 hour contract) - Keep in mind: Having the boundaries of a job description stunt someone's growth does not measure up against the return on investment you get from someone's passion for learning. Your contribution to something your co-worker values, translates into engagement and loyalty.

  3. Make sure they use that learning budget - It is easy to get caught up in the job. Some people experience enough stress or simply have a high workload. Every quarter of the year, make sure you agree and plan the next course. And make it SMART.

  4. Adding something = dropping something - We all love the idea of "going the extra mile", but learning should not be seen as an add-on. Rather, it is a vital part of enabling high performance. Make sure your employees have the space to learn, and the space to apply what they've learnt instead of piling it on top of the current workload.

  5. Share knowledge - Ultimately, learning increases output. Getting your team to share what they've learnt among each other. Hell, amongst colleagues around the organization is tremendously valuable.

The bottom line is you want your organization to act, learn and spread. Frank and Fatima now know you are open to giving them new opportunities. They will continue to be engaged, and their engagement and knowledge will have a ripple effect throughout their surroundings.

Data-driven Interventions

We are getting somewhere people. There are still improvements to be made though. How often have you sent out that employee happiness survey? And how often have you received clear feedback, but were unable to act on that feedback?

Managers often try their best to create a better work environment, but they need the tools and information to properly steer. The measured data doesn't always support deeper insight in how employees are feeling, and what they need to improve their feelings. Working digitally since COVID hasn't exactly helped with that insight. The data shows that mental health is decreasing, due to increased stress and less social activities (among other variables). Accurately measuring where your employees feel the most 'pain' is now more important than ever.

Here's what you can do:

  1. Prioritize employee well-being on all levels - 'People' are often one of the main priorities in strategy alongside Financial, Operations and Customers (these priorities may vary of course). For some reason 'People goals' regularly takes a back seat to e.g. Financial goals. Quite strange, considering that people are the driving force behind the wellness of all the mentioned factors.

  2. 'In depth' measurements - Make sure you measure frequently and in a playful way to not overload your employees. Make sure the data you have represents the actual concerns of the employees. Consider categorizing health topics when measuring health, such as satisfaction, stress, workload, engagement, learning opportunities and so on.

  3. Create a cut-off score - Determine for yourself what a 'good score' and a 'bad score' is. That will make it easier to prioritize interventions, and prevent arbitrary decisions on which problems to tackle first.

  4. Follow up on measurements - Make sure you understand what's behind the numbers. Scores 1 through 5 and a comment section may not give you the full picture. Seek out where the core of the problem lies. Intervening without a clear understanding is significantly less effective.

  5. Create interventions (and programs) - This is the exciting part, where you get to improve the well-being of your employees. Are your employees struggling with their energy? After determining what the root cause is, you may want to redesign your lunch policies, max out the workload per employee, or introduce a course on sleep.

There are many ways to get where you want to go. Giving attention to your employees with the best intentions goes a long way. However, true impact is made when you are truly ready to be responsive to your employees' needs and keep improving over time.

Communication is key

Every single person experiences their work differently. Every person struggles with different aspects of the job, or their life for that matter. It is important to take context into consideration. Tom may be struggling with loneliness; something about a virus. Julia may thrive in the peace and quiet of her home office and Ahmed may feel he's not growing in his role. It's hard to navigate yourself around those issues as an employer.

Here's what you can do:

  1. Create psychological Safety - Make sure you create an environment in which people can openly talk to each other. Where they won't be dismissed, stigmatized or confronted because of their struggles and concerns. A person's problems may not seem like much from the outside, but to them it can be incredibly impactful. It helps when managers tell their team they can speak openly, and react accordingly when they do. With time, psychological safety turns into trust.

  2. Prioritize health in your one-on-ones - We have seen too many managers using bila's to shift through progress reports, set vague goals and finishing early due to other priorities. Interventions on health should not only be made when you miss a deadline. Make employee health a standard topic on the agenda.

  3. Aim to understand - We live in a world where people aim to listen, and sometimes only listen to reply. Working on your active listening skills seems to be trending as a skill, but more importantly: do you understand the person across from you? Do you empathize? I have worked in a company where concerns about my future with the company were not appreciated. "If you don't want to be here, there's the door." I have also worked in companies where they saw these concerns as a positive. "How can we explore what fits you within the context of our organization?" Only when you are open to these concerns, can you truly change for the better.

  4. Be humble - We don't know everything. We don't understand everything. Learn from what you hear around you and take your employees seriously. And when everything seems perfect, investigate a bit more. There is always room to improve.


Working on all of the above isn't easy and you may not see the return on investment immediately. However, if you believe that your people are the driving factor behind the success, seriously reconsider their worth. Too often we understand the theory of human capital and too often we ignore it.

At Liftaware we believe the a healthy work culture and the value of the people in your organization shows itself in:

  • Increased engagement

  • Increased productivity

  • Boosts in your innovation

  • Increased happiness

  • and so much more

That is why our service does just that: we create social engagement, opportunities to learn, open communication, and we make it all data-driven. So you can steer on the things that truly matter. We would love to talk to you on what Liftaware does to help achieve this. Check out for more information on our services and make sure to send us a message.

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