Guest post by Dan Matthews
When you arrive at work in the morning, what are you are thinking about? Are your thoughts goal-oriented and focused on what you mean to accomplish during the day? Do you look forward to interacting with coworkers to solve problems? Or do you have a feeling of dread and a sense of foreboding every time you enter the office?
If you regularly feel the latter, it may be time to take a hard look at the company culture that surrounds you on a daily basis. The culture of your workplace can make a profound difference in your happiness at your job and in the quality of work you are able to produce. Furthermore, you should also take a deeper look into the positivity both you and your co-workers bring to the table.
The fact of the matter is that we spend a substantial portion of our lives at work. If being there every day is a struggle, then something needs to change. Negative work environments lead to retention issues, poor work quality, low morale, and can even cost the company money in the long run. Here are some ways that your company can work towards creating a more positive working environment.
Turning a work environment around isn’t something that happens overnight, it takes a lot of work. But small changes can take place right away and start making a difference that can be felt almost immediately. One way to do this is by celebrating small wins and individual achievements.
Doing this can be as simple as walking over to an employee’s desk and showing gratitude for the great work they did with such and such customer last week. Or sending out a company-wide email congratulating your employee on completing training that will help them with their job. Likewise, taking an hour to celebrate the completion of a project with cake or ice cream can make a significant difference in building a culture of positivity and celebration.
There is some evidence that the gamification of certain tasks can make them more enjoyable for employees. Gamification is the process of making the learning of certain tasks more entertaining and rewarding for the person engaged in it by turning that learning process into a rewards-based lesson. Doing this for workplace development can help employees feel more engaged with the work they are doing, may build up employee relationships, and can build in rewards for small wins.
Establish Build-Up Leadership
One of the most valuable ways to foster a more positive company culture starts is to see it start with management. Constantly tearing down ideas, negatively critiquing small things, micromanaging, and playing office politics can really be a drag on the work environment. Instead, management should be focused on ways to help employees reach goals, improve productivity, quality of work, and employee satisfaction through positive actions.
For instance, managers can play a significant role in helping to overcome the innovation fatigue that every employee, no matter the industry, will experience at some point. Rather than dwelling on what the employee is not accomplishing, remind them of their big wins in the past and help them get back into that mind space. Help with brainstorming and fleshing out new ideas like lesson plans or new products — build them up rather than tear them down.
It isn’t always easy to be the bright face in the office, but as a manager in a leadership role, you should expect that other employees will look at you and your attitude and take their cues from you. In some ways, you are the internal face of the brand — positive messaging of company changes or initiatives and employee feedback is going to create greater employee buy-in over time.
The company you work for can take steps to improve culture and your managers can work on building up rather than tearing down, but at some point bringing a positive attitude to work is on you. If you want your workplace to improve, you have to put in some effort by trying to look on the bright side of things, not letting yourself get worked up about changes, and working towards developing better relationships with co-workers.
One way to work towards being more positive at work is simply not to allow yourself to complain to coworkers. It sounds easy, but it can actually be quite challenging. Cutting out complaints such as ‘I’m so tired’ or ‘I can’t stand it when Cathy monopolizes the coffee machine’ or ‘Gosh, my boss can be such a jerk’ can force you to realize how much mindless complaining you actually do. All these negative thoughts — no matter how small — can add up to have a large effect on you and those around you.
An attitude adjustment of becoming more mindful of the things you do on a day to day basis is just one of many ways you can cut some anxiety and stress out of your life. Choosing to be positive can actually make a substantial difference in nearly every aspect of your life. You may sleep better, have more energy, improve your mental health, and many other things.
The development of a positive work environment must come from everyone in the company: leaders, to management, to employees themselves. Positive work environments can improve satisfaction which can translate to greater productivity and higher quality work. It takes time to improve office culture but changing a few small things can make a big difference relatively quickly.
Author Bio: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture. You can find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.