Good Workplace or Great - What's the Difference?

A happy employee makes all the difference. When an employee is happy they look forward to working every day. They put forth their best effort, which in turn boosts their productivity. They are less likely to take a sudden “personal” day. They also are less likely to look for work elsewhere. The thing about keeping workers happy is it isn’t always about the size of a paycheck. Yes, raises and more money are nice, but it isn’t the only factor when it comes to a great workplace. As the boss and owner of your company, it is your job to turn your place of business from okay to good and then from good to great. What, then, makes a great workplace? Here is what you can do and how to elevate a workplace from good to great (and what the difference is).


It may not sound like much, and it likely isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when considering your work environment, but safety matters. This is both inside your facility and out. Even if an employee likes his or her job, if there are times they don’t feel completely safe or comfortable, it completely brings down their entire work experience.

So how can you go about ensuring all your employees feel safe? Talk to them individually, or have them write out suggestions anonymously. If you keep everything confidential, there shouldn’t be any issue with employees sharing what they believe could make the workplace safer. It may be something as simple as installing additional lighting around the parking area. You may also find out another employee has been making comments that make other employees feel insecure or uncomfortable. By asking your employees, you’ll identify ways to take the workplace from good to great.

Keep Your Office Open

Alright, so you don’t need to physically always have your office door open, but make sure all your employees, from the interns to assistant managers, are welcome to approach and talk with you. They should never feel afraid of discussing work issues with you.

Making sure your employees are heard and welcome to speak their mind doesn’t just revolve around remaining open to workers approaching you though. While some will have no problem coming up and talking to you about issues, others do not have that kind of outgoing personality. Varying personalities is what makes an office great, but it also means you need to find ways to connect with them. One way to make a good office great is to always ask for ideas and input. Whether this is a regular meeting with each individual or in groups, you need to put in the extra effort to make sure your employees always know they can, and will, be heard.

Focus on Yourself

No, this doesn’t mean taking the end of the year office surplus and spending it on a lavish vacation. It means you need to focus on improving yourself as a leader. A great workplace ultimately revolves around a great leader. People are more likely to follow someone they respect and even admire. It doesn’t revolve around a dictator that employees are afraid of. In a work dictatorship, the employees are not free to leave, do not have a voice and are not allowed to take time off. That will, in turn, affects the outcome of the business, brings down your bottom line and potentially, implodes the company from within.

So how do you focus on yourself and develop into a better leader? First, listen to your employees and take all suggestions into consideration. Be open to knowing sometimes your initial idea is not always best. A quality leader is one who is willing to see all avenues and take the best option, even if they did not come up with the idea. This helps employees know their ideas matter and it shows you’re not closed off. It builds mutual respect.

You should also look towards outside ideas, take into consideration the way other business owners run their company and attend career seminars or training programs. Just because you’re at the top doesn’t mean you can’t continue to learn and grow. So, focus on yourself as a leader and business owner. It will ultimately help take a good workplace and make it great.

Set Your Employees Up for Success

Just as important as it is to improve as a leader, you also need to focus on the improvement of your employees. Investing in your workers may cost money upfront, but it will grow your business and pay major dividends on the back end.

To set your employees up for success and empower them, it isn’t just about making workers feel valued. You also need to provide new career opportunities. If an employee feels as if there is no place else to go in the company but down, they may begin to look elsewhere. Additionally, workers want to be challenged. They want to learn something new and add to their skills. Most employees don’t want to just sit there and do the same thing day in and day out for the rest of their professional lives. That is why you need to provide advanced training. Some of this training you can provide in house, while other forms of training may require you to send certain workers off to seminars and training facilities around the country.

One of the top reasons anyone leaves a job is the lack of career growth potential. As long as you continually offer this, your skilled workers will stay. Plus, you can use the training seminars and courses as motivation for current employees. Those who wish to climb the professional ladder and make improvements to their own work potential will see these opportunities and do what they can to receive the added training. By simply motivating your employees, you’ll extract higher levels of productivity while training them to do additional work they might not have been able to do previously. Higher-skilled and better-trained employees make a good work environment a great one, for you and the employees.


Remember growing up, when you’d complete all your chores throughout the week you’d receive an allowance? Perhaps after doing well on a test in school, your teacher would let you pick out a piece of candy or go outside to recess a few minutes early. At what point in time did receiving rewards for a job well-done stop? Now you’re expected to thrive at everything you do, and if you don’t you’re reprimanded. When raising a pet, every instructor will tell you positive motivation works far faster than negative reinforcement. A dog shouldn’t be afraid to disappoint you, but instead be happy to perform a trick. The same is true with your employees.

Of course, you’re not training your employees to do tricks (unless you’re in the circus, in which case, carry on). However, you do want your employees to put in their best effort. Should they do this, provide a reward. These rewards and perks can vary, based on what they accomplish, the difficulty and how long it takes (and how much money you have available for these rewards). The rewards can be simple, ranging from an extra 30 minutes for lunch, to a better parking space for the week, a gift card to a local restaurant or even larger items for surpassing sales quotas.

Some bosses may say the paycheck an employee receives should be all the motivation they need. The fact of the matter is, there is only so much motivation and drive a person can muster up when doing the same job and the same task, day after day after day, for years. You need to spice it up and offer additional incentives to push forward. Offering these rewards will excite your employees and increase their desire to come into the office and put in a solid day of work. So, while other bosses refuse to provide rewards and receive lackluster results from their employees, you can invest a small amount into these rewards and see company productivity skyrocket, all while turning a good work environment into a great work environment. Test it out. You’ll quickly discover why you should have been doing this the entire time.

Doing what you can to make your workplace the best it can be is more important than you may ever realize. With the boost in productivity and company morale, every single employee will feel at home with your business. At the same time, this at-home feeling will spur boosts in productivity while elevating the quality of work. With this kind of improvement, you’ll in return experience more leads, sales, and eventually a more substantial bottom line. So, if you’re ready to make even a good workplace great, now is the time to follow through with these pointers. Your employees and your business will thank you for it.

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What defines a Good or Great Workplace?

Written by Mike Williams

I am a serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years of business experience. My goal with this blog is to pass on some of what I have learned in order to help you achieve success in business.

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