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Creating a positive workplace and work culture

Updated: Aug 11, 2022

A positive environment is a great way to bolster productivity and morale at work. In fact, many studies have shown that it serves as a buffer to toxic workplaces, and helps cultivate a sense of unity and altruism in the office. At a time where corporate politics and toxic work cultures are rife in many organizations, creating a positive workplace requires the collective efforts of both employees and employers.

Previously, we focused on how to navigate a toxic work environment ” with creating a positive culture being a key element. However, cultivating a positive work environment is a broad term that needs to be unpacked. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, here are some micro steps that you can practice to spread the good vibes.

Say “Thank You”

Feeling acknowledged, appreciated, and valued is a universal human need. We cannot overstress the importance of a small powerful gesture such as “Thank You.” It is a priceless behavior that should be incorporated into our list of positive habits to practice. Start thanking someone daily, and you’ll be surprised how far it takes you and how big of a smile it puts on the recipient’s face. You do not need to wait for a favor to happen to do so. In fact, the more spontaneous it is, the better!

Provide a safe space for employees to be vulnerable

Pride and ego at work are two things that prevent us from being able to connect genuinely, and especially in collectivist societies and large organizations where hierarchy plays a strong role in our lives, it can be hard to break down the walls between coworkers. Vulnerability shows that you’re human, and reminds others that their actions and words carry weight and affect the people around them, including themselves! Likewise, this extends to your coworkers. Here are some examples of being vulnerable/embracing vulnerability at work:

● Apologizing to your bosses or team members for a mistake at work

● Learning to tell your colleagues that you are overwhelmed with responsibilities

● Being comfortable expressing and embracing certain emotions at work

However, while embracing vulnerability is paramount to creating a positive atmosphere at work, we do feel the need to caution readers about emotional burnout. Overexposure to negative emotions and events can cause stress and depression, therefore we highly encourage readers to draw the lines and maintain healthy boundaries with their coworkers if conversations get out of hand.

Check in frequently

Whether you’re a leader or a team member, it does not hurt to check in with your colleagues or staff once in a while. Apart from following up on work progress, it pays to be attentive to your colleagues. Find out if they’re struggling with work, or if they require support from others. Spend 5-10 minutes of your time making small talks and catching up on life. Talk about your plans for the weekend, or any exciting plans your colleagues may have in store at the end of the hectic work week. Most importantly, reassure your colleagues that you are there for them, and that you’ll do your best to assist them. Remember, it’s not just about work, but the people around you.

Cherish the little wins

One thing that many successful leaders have in common is the ability to motivate their teams by celebrating accomplishment, however small. Although we tend to focus on the bigger picture and the end results, it’s equally important to emphasize the achievements along the way. Good leaders have mastered the art of doing so by recognizing their teams’ contributions and including them in decision making. Remember, inclusion and autonomy are two great ways to foster trust between colleagues. The biggest takeaway is that empowering people through building their confidence can contribute to higher levels of job satisfaction, which, in turn, result in a positive workplace and work culture. As most would say, give credit when credit is due.

Set positive examples

Creating a positive workplace starts with leaders modeling positive behaviors. Leaders have to walk the walk, and talk the talk. Setting positive examples from a position of authority helps pave the way forward for others to emulate. Practice one of the suggestions above, and for leaders, reward and encourage these behaviors in the workplace. The key is to reinforce these habits with positive reinforcements. Positive reinforcement is key to cultivating supportive habits. Set positive behaviors and reward them accordingly. Here are some examples of positive behaviors that should be reinforced in the workplace.

● Reminding coworkers and colleagues to take a break/go home on time

● Talking about the importance of mental wellness at work

● Encouraging team members to be speak up

Get creative

There’s an endless list of behavior one can undertake when it comes to creating a positive workplace. From leaving thank you messages to your colleagues to giving compliments to brighten up their day, or treating them to a meal for a job well done, find your comfort-positive behavior and spread it to your team or your coworkers. After all, a little positivity never hurts anyone.

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