THE BLOG
01/14/2014 11:32 am ET Updated Mar 16, 2014

Changing the Office Culture: Ask Noah

Q: Call me a concerned boss. I run a small business with 10 employees. It has begun to be quite clear that most of the people who work for me don't seem very happy. You can tell by looking at their body language, the way they interact with each other and overall attitude. I want to fix this, but am not sure why it's occurring. Any ideas?

A: You better fix it. If you haven't witnessed it already, unhappy workers will decrease productivity. It's draining to spend everyday in a negative environment and, eventually, their unhappiness will rub off on you! This pattern that you're now noticing will really sink the ship.

Take a look at the scene you're setting and what business culture you're promoting. If you see a business model that depletes your employees, try to adjust accordingly and see if your employees' moods lift.

You are not trying to create a culture of sunshine and lollipops, just a supportive work environment where people are motivated to succeed.

Here are some tips to help with the process:

Make sure you publicly recognize your employees when they do a good job. Public acknowledgement of any kind motivates others to pursue the same recognition for their accomplishments.

Assess whether raises are being given within appropriate time frames. Perhaps implementing a transparent system where employees can target goals or meet certain timelines for raises.

Find unique ways to reward people:

(a) office contests and giveaways: healthy competition begets success.

(b) holiday bonuses in accordance to performance: business booster!

(c) create partnerships with nearby eateries: automatic-discounts are wonderful mood changers.

Employees are constantly observing you. Be careful about your language, communication styles and potentially harmful or helpful unspoken attitudes you project. Your employees hear everything and will eventually adopt your style of speaking -- using it with their peers. It's a trickle-down effect, so make sure what trickles down is positive.

Create a more social culture where people interact as individuals, not just coworkers. This is vital. It's hard to be unhappy when you're relating/interacting with people you really like! Additionally, you'll get to know your employees' personalities and talents, placing them in positions to succeed. They will (by extension) feel happier for their successes. You'll feel happier as well.

Thanks for writing, and I wish you the best of luck in trying to change your business' culture.

Questions and comments can be sent to ASK NOAH at nskass@gmail.com.

Have a profitable and peaceful week,

Noah