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5 Tips to Help You Be the Sort of Leader Employees Love to Work For How to appreciate your employees and earn their trust.

By Kc Agu

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Clients are important, but they aren't the number one priority of successful organizations -- employees are.

When a company hires the right people and clearly imparts its vision, it fosters an atmosphere of growth, efficiency and creativity among its employees. Loyal and satisfied clients become a natural by-product.

I believe this is why successful organizations are very deliberate about creating a workplace culture that allows for maximum productivity.

If the office plaque professes "a culture that encourages freedom and open communication," but employees tiptoe around, looking over their shoulder when the boss is around, the true culture of that company is one of fear.

Positive and productive workplace cultures start from the top and have to be deliberately cultivated. Below are five good ways to improve the culture in your business.

Related: 10 Books Every Leader Should Read to Be Successful

Close the employer-employee gap.

By making the effort to deliberately get involved in employees' lives, attentively listen to them without appearing bored or distracted, keep their confidentiality, encourage their dreams and assist without expecting anything in return, a leader can earn the loyalty of the staff.

This filters down the ranks and creates an atmosphere of trust and unity among the workers.

I believe employees should be mentored, developed and supported. They should be drawn closer to the boss -- to you -- not just physically, but mentally and intellectually. And it should be a calculable metric.

For an amazing workplace culture, employers should live their culture instead of just speaking it or putting it on a wall.

Do you desire a close-knit workplace? It starts with you.

Encourage creativity and variety.

When a company fosters a culture of ingenuity and out-of-the-box thinking, it releases a slew of fresh ideas and work anticipation in the minds of the employees.

They are the ones who relate with the clients and, therefore, have a finger on your company's pulse. They're the ones who know what will probably work -- and what might not. Do not dam the flow of innovation. Companies with rigid rules are rarely innovative and often unknowingly reduce productivity.

Encourage your staff to proffer fresh ideas and ensure you try out those ideas. Your employees will see through any form of pretense.

Even if the ideas don't work, you have created an environment for freedom of expression, which encourages rapid growth and learning.

Let the workplace be one of fun, creativity and variety. Track and time how they work and then use that to develop better solutions that will make them work more productively.

As much as is feasible, avoid monotony of tasks and schedules.

Once in a while, shuffle duties and departments. It will expand knowledge, give a better understanding of how each section connects, create laughs, relieve stress and increase an appreciation of a colleague's duties -- or yours.

Related: 50 Rules for Being a Great Leader

Include everybody.

Nothing captures a person's loyalty and commitment like the feeling of having a stake in something and being considered important. This also runs true in the workplace.

While those in the upper echelons of the company are responsible for final decisions taken, it is important that employees' opinions and feedback are taken into consideration. Even in seemingly unimportant issues like shelf colors and bathroom deodorants, employees can be made to feel their opinions matter. Apart from the fact that they can also bring new perspectives, taking your workers' opinions and ideas into consideration will also make them more empathetic toward decisions taken by the management.

Regardless of their official strata, every member of the staff should be in the loop on critical decisions. Sudden layoffs, transfers or other changes create an environment of fear and resentment, which are counterproductive to a wholesome workplace culture.

Communicate openly and constantly.

In any relationship -- professional or personal -- where effective communication is lacking, assumptions, gossip and innuendos fill the gap and cause drastic damage.

A healthy workplace culture is one in which the lines of communication are constantly open and functioning. Communication -- while being discreet -- should be truthful and direct.

Lies and evasion breed mistrust, and mistrust will destroy the very fabric of your company. There should be clear communication about what is expected of each employee. Employees, without fear of negative consequences, should be free to criticize or ask difficult questions. They should be able to share their suggestions, thoughts or concerns that bother them and might ultimately affect the company.

One-one-one meetings, group meetings or question-and-answer sessions should be conducted regularly, with the issues resolved and updates given to the staff.

Related: Inspirational Quotes From 100 Famous Business Leaders (Infographic)

Recognize and reward efforts and achievements.

When employees are recognized and rewarded for a job well done, they experience pride in their work and are motivated to continue to excel. Adequately compensate your high-performers. Give gifts. Order for cakes and pop some bottles. Give a half-day off.

Individuals, teams, departments and even the company itself should be appreciated and celebrated.

Apart from achievements, efforts should also be noticed and encouraged. Don't ignore genuine efforts and hard work, even if the initial results are not particularly stellar. Encourage, guide and allow room for improvement.

Celebrate desired values of loyalty, integrity and even longevity. Doing this makes more impact than a memo or plaque.

Kc Agu

Consultant, coach, public speaker, investor and freelance writer

Kc Agu is a startup consultant, a success coach, public speaker, an investor and a freelance writer.

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