Your work environment makes a big difference in success vs. mediocrity. For instance, an introverted shy type would have a tough time in a highly stressed, fast-paced newsroom. A buttoned-down corporate type would probably feel uncomfortable in a sandal-clad, T-shirt-wearing R&D department. And you surely don't want a guy who hates to get dirty working for your plumbing business.

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Hiring employees who fit in with the environment of your work place is a key element to your success. A bad or even hostile working environment can lead to high turnover, which is a costly and hurtful situation that you can avoid by paying careful attention to the personalities and work ethics of people you interview for a job.

Hire Employees Who Fit Your Work Environment

Start by examining your own attitude at work. Are you critical? Supportive? Willing to invest time and energy into helping your employees grow and take the lead in solving problems? Employers can set the tone for the environment workers encounter-either positive or negative.

Once you are on the right track, your next most important goal is to hire the right people. Paul Alofs, author of 'Passion Capital' and president and CEO of The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation in Toronto, advises in a Fast Company column to 'hire for passion and commitment first, experience second, and credentials third.'

'There is no shortage of impressive CVs out there, but you should try to find people who are interested in the same things you are,' he writes. 'You don't want to be simply a stepping stone on an employee's journey toward his or her own (very different) passion.'

Alofs believes that asking the right questions is key to getting a sense of what the potential employee believes:

  • Ask your interviewee what he or she loves about his or her chosen career.
  • Ask what inspires your interviewee.
  • Find out what courses in school the candidate dreaded?

Communicate Clearly, Consistently

The best employees want to feel that they are contributing members of the team, that their skills help generate the success of the company. Employers who regularly communicate with employees through system-wide channels-e-newsletters, company print publications, memos, lunches, casual meetings-find that their workforce feels more a part of the team. Personal communication is also important-an open-door policy can go a long way. When an employer closes off regular communication, employees can become disgruntled and distrusting. Make sure you talk to problem employees about your concerns and their shortcomings-and address them. An employment agreement may prove useful in clarifying expectations.

Make it clear to your employees that gossip about each other is not welcome. Honest, open and considerate dialog is key to a healthy working environment. Commending employees for contributing positively to your working environment is also important. Awards can further motivate good employees and even awaken those that have developed negative attitudes.

Be Flexible and Accommodating to Avoid a Hostile Work Place Environment

One of the best ways to inspire workers and make the environment at work more positive is to show that you'll accommodate their personal needs, such as time off to care for loved ones, a longer lunch break to take their vehicle to the garage, etc. A flexible work schedule is another excellent tool for building a positive working environment. With technology, employees can often do much of their work from anywhere they can access the Internet. So let them.

'Flexible scheduling allows employees to adjust the time or place their work is completed. It can mean compressing 40 hours into four days, starting and ending workdays at different times, or doing some of your work at home,' according to a column by Emily Schmitt in Forbes.

Some of the reasons for flexible scheduling include:

  • To better manage long commutes
  • To allow parents to take their children to school
  • To encourage employees to volunteer in the community
  • To accommodate those who may be attending school themselves

A telecommuting agreement can help clarify the expectations and responsibilities for telecommuting employees.

Deal With Negative Attitudes-Fast

Bitterness and a bad attitude can spread like a disease and make the environment toxic at work, increasing stress at work. It can also lead to work place harassment among employees. You can't afford to overlook problem areas caused by disgruntled employees and the resulting hostile work environment. Follow your company policies on dealing with employees who fall short of expectations and job goals, and always keep channels of communication open to them.

You're usually better off if you can restore an employee and put him or her back on a productive path than you are firing someone. But if you exhaust all efforts to fix the situation, then it's time to fire the employee to protect the environment at work. You've done your job, and you need to protect your team, the product and the working environment.

Get started Start Your Employee Handbook Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.

Get started Start Your Employee Handbook Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.