23 April 2024

Creating a positive working environment

A lady sat at her laptop smiling after creating a positive working environment with MHR's People First HR software.

Positive working environments are vital if you want to stay productive and competitive. How do you create and keep one that works for your team?

What is a positive working environment?

A positive working environment is a fairly simple concept to define. Do your employees feel good about coming to work with you every day? Do they feel safe, and like they have plenty of opportunities to grow and reach their goals? All of this will combine to create a space where employees can perform at their best. 

Exactly what a positive working environment looks like may vary from employee to employee, as they’ll all have different priorities. Some will want more flexibility; others will want a focus on growth.  

However, there are some solid, best practice principles, you can ensure the best experience possible for the maximum number of people. 

Why is a positive working environment important?

There’s a strong correlation between a positive working environment and employee wellbeing. When employees are less stressed, they’re much less likely to call out sick. On average, $51 billion dollars gets spent by US businesses on dealing with absenteeism. 

25% of Americans say their job is the biggest source of stress in their lives. As a result, building a positive work environment is vital if you want to keep productivity high. 

There’s also the simple fact that a positive working environment contributes to a positive employer brand. Employees are less likely to leave, but those that do are more likely to have a positive impression of you. This brand spreads, attracting better talent and further improving the working environment. 

Characteristics of a positive working environment

But what makes a positive working environment? There are a number of factors that can be actively worked on to support this goal.  

Firstly, open and transparent communication is vital. Employees need to feel secure. Secrecy can lead to nerves and paranoia, as well as employees feeling like they’re not trusted.  The best employees hold themselves accountable for their actions, and they want you as their employer to match that. ESG reporting can be helpful with this, but so can regular townhalls and catch-ups.  

A supportive and inclusive workplace culture is also vital. It’s often been said that people don’t quit bad jobs, they quit bad managers. A supportive culture will help employees feel protected and valuable, which gives extra resilience if work gets stressful. Great collaboration is born out of compassion. Inclusivity is also vital, as discriminatory behavior (both direct and indirect) can sever trust between employee and employer. 

It's vital you establish clear goals and expectations. If employees don’t know what they’re working towards, staying motivated is basically impossible. Likewise, most people understand that priorities can shift, but if you keep sending them off in wild directions, they’ll start to question the merit. 

Providing opportunities for growth and development is a key and often neglected aspect of a positive work environment. For many employees, moving to an entirely new employer is the best way to reach their career goals. But if you offer robust training and development opportunities, with the potential for upwards momentum can help employees feel motivated. 

Recognizing employee contributions will also help sustain goodwill and make employees willing to go the extra mile. Encouraging recognitions on your internal communication channels, highlighting employe extracurriculars and launching employee of the month awards are just some of the ways you can make this happen. 

Maintaining a positive working environment

Creating a positive working environment is never a one and done thing. It’s easy to stay positive when things are going well, but you need to put the work into maintaining it, even when things get more stressful. 

Resolving conflicts and promoting teamwork is vital, and that might involve a lot of behavior modelling from the top down. Don’t engage in blame culture, and encourage employees to feel OK with making mistakes, if they put the work in to fix them and move on. Show your gratitude openly and encourage a good work-life balance. Your employees will appreciate it and match your energy. 

Great software can be the key to managing a positive working environment and give you additional tools to support your HR team in building a strategy that works for the whole organization. 

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Emma Reid

Content writer at MHR

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