First, a positive work culture has a positive impact on employee health. According to a Harvard Business Review study, employees in positive work cultures reported improved physical and mental health compared to those in negative work cultures.
Secondly, a Harvard Business Review study also found that businesses with A strong culture have a 756% increase in net income over 11 years, compared to just 1% for companies with no strong culture.
Thirdly, Companies with a positive work culture are more likely to attract and retain the best talent. According to a Deloitte study, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe that a distinct workplace culture is essential to companies’ success.
In short, a positive workplace leads to better results over time. But are we knowledgeable enough to build a positive work culture within our organization?
If There Is a Positive Work Culture, Is There Also a Negative One?
Yes, just as positive work cultures foster collaboration, respect, and a shared sense of purpose, there can also be negative work cultures that lead to toxic behavior, unhealthy competition, and a lack of trust and respect.
First, let’s look at a positive work culture. Positive work culture is where people feel valued, supported, and encouraged to do their best.
Positive work culture is indicated by open communication, mutual respect, a sense of belonging, and possibilities for growth and development.
In contrast, several signs may point to a negative work culture. Below are some examples:
- High turnover rate: If employees leave at a high rate, this could be a sign that they are unhappy with the work culture.
- Low morale: If employees seem disengaged, demotivated, or generally dissatisfied, it may be a sign of a negative work culture.
- Lack of transparency: If there is a lack of clarity about the decision-making processes or goals of the company, this can lead to distrust and disengagement of employees.
- Poor communication: If communication is ineffective or inconsistent, it signs confusion, misunderstanding, and conflict in a team.
- Discrimination: Small-mindedness or harassment based on race, sex, or sexual orientation may reveal a toxic workplace.
- Lack of work-life balance: Expecting employees to work long hours or not giving them enough time off hints that the organization isn’t aware of people’s wellbeing.
If we see any of these signs in the workplace, the manager or HR department should look at what can be done to enhance the work culture.
Core Principles and How to Drive a Positive Work Culture
Building a positive and healthy culture for our teams is based on several important principles. The research of an HBR on ‘the qualities of a positive culture at work’ consists of six essential features:
- Looks after, cares for, and takes responsibility for coworkers as a friend.
- Supporting each other, including showing kindness and compassion when others are experiencing hardship.
- Avoid blame and forgive errors.
- Drawing inspiration from each other in the workplace.
- Focus on the meaning of the work.
- Treat others with respect, recognition, trust, and integrity.
As managers, how can we promote them? The research highlights four stages of how to create a positive workplace culture:
1. Promote social ties at work.
Positive social ties at work provide highly favorable outcomes. For example, the study shows that people get sick less often, suffer less depression, and better tolerate pain and discomfort in a positive workplace.
Participating in workplace events, allowing people to take breaks together, or simply giving smiles and greetings can go a long way to building social connections.
2. Encourage people to share their concerns with you.
Be available and accessible to all employees. Establish an open-door policy and encourage employees to contact you for their concerns or issues. Ask questions to clarify their concerns and demonstrate an understanding of their point of view.
After a conversation, follow up with the employee to ensure they have addressed their concerns and are satisfied with the result.
3. Be empathetic toward our people.
As managers, we greatly influence the feelings of our people. A study by CompassionLab at the University of Michigan suggests that leaders with compassion for employees foster individual and collective resilience in these difficult times.
Positive work culture examples can be: Be an active listener. Recognizing feelings by saying, “I understand you feel frustrated,” or “It sounds like it’s hard for you,” is a way to understand our people better.
A positive work culture equates to increased productivity. A positive work culture can make a significant difference in employee productivity. Employees who feel loved, supported and engaged will most likely be motivated and productive.