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A positive work environment is important

December 2021

Well-being refers to a state of being comfortable, happy, satisfied, healthy. Thus, when an employer cares for employees, they will be comfortable, satisfied, feel safe and secure in their working environment, and feel happy to work for the particular employer. The result being improved productivity, responsibility for resources, and loyalty towards the business.

‘Take care of your employees and they will take care of your business. It’s as simple as that’ – a quote by Richard Branson, a well-known billionaire. Is there something to learn from this quote? The well-being of employees/staff is a well-discussed topic which we will address in this article. The focus will therefore be on some practical matters.

How will you as employer experience a positive attitude or well-being from your employees towards the working environment? You will experience actions such as your staff being friendly, being compassionate about and committed to their work and responsibilities, taking care of tools and equipment, and being on time. They will be more efficient and committed to success and excellence regarding their job.

Vice versa, a negative well-being will be illustrated by employees being late for work on a regular basis without sound reasons and being absent or on sick leave unnecessarily. They will not care for the tools and equipment whether it is damaged or lost. You could also experience petty theft of small tools and inputs such as seed, and feed and staff could even harm crops. Staff will be irritable, short-tempered, and moody and more aggressive. Drinking can become a problem. You could also observe a loss in concentration and a lack of energy. A high staff turnover is a sure sign of a negative attitude. All this comes at a cost to your business.

As an employer you must realise you are a manager and a leader and address any negative attitude. 

Being a manager requires proper management of all labour affairs according to the labour laws. For example:

  • Ensure you pay your staff their correct salary and at the time/day as agreed on.
  • Do not neglect occupational health and safety matters. Improve workplace safety through training, safety equipment and clothing, and safe practices.
  • Do not expect work to be done without proper tools, equipment, and other resources.

As a leader you must inspire your staff. For example:

  • Your own integrity must be beyond doubt – let your no be your no and your yes, your yes, and do not make promises you cannot keep. 
  • Be unscrupulously honest, be genuine and be the example to your staff. They must trust you.
  • Treat your staff with dignity and respect – treat them as you would like to be treated.
  • Avoid favouritism – treat all the same.
  • Communicate properly, clearly and with respect with your staff especially as to their tasks and what you expect from them. Provide them an opportunity to voice their opinion and above all listen to them. Shouting will bring you nowhere. Never use foul language.
  • Express your gratitude if and when necessary but be honest. The digital resources of today can be useful – a SMS or WhatsApp message can work wonders. A message ‘Thank you very much for your effort today with the special task you had to do. We do appreciate it’ can only lift the spirit of a staff member.

We are not saying that you must be a friend to all. To the contrary, you must be firm, fair to all and maintain discipline. Be strict but also accommodating. 

You must have already heard other employers describing their staff as the main asset of their business. Are they? Does it show in the way staff is treated? You are in a farming business to make money, therefore address the well-being of your staff.

It thus seems that the statement of Richard Branson bears truth. Your business can only benefit from your employees’ positive attitudes.

Publication: December 2021

Section: Pula/Imvula