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Posted on 3 March 2020

How to create a positive workplace culture in five steps

4 minute read

Your business is made of more than your branding, your marketing and your social media feeds. It’s even more than the products and services you offer. It’s the people whose hard work make your business (and brand) resonate so strongly with your clientele.

Without the dedication, determination, creativity and efforts of your employees, where would you be? So when employee morale starts to falter, what do you do? Well, there is one thing (no, not money) that drives motivation, encouraging employees to do more than the bare minimum and that is your workplace culture.

A positive workplace culture is more than a set of platitudes in a mission statement or a set of bullet points in your employee handbook. It underpins everything you do and should be present in every employee interaction with management, with customers and with one another. But workplace culture can be hard to define, much less quantify.

Here we explore how to create a positive workplace culture in 5 easy steps that ensures employees are happy and engaged.

1. Don’t just tell employees they’re valued… show them

It’s actually fairly easy to come up with the words to describe the kind of workplace culture you want to perpetuate. Yet, while committing it to writing may be useful to you, your workplace culture is made visible to your employees not through words but through actions.

It’s one thing to tell employees that they are valued. It’s something else to show them. But how can you do this in ways that are tangible and meaningful to them? Some ideas might include:

Implementing a technology-driven employee recognition programme

Believe it or not, today’s workforce values recognition over monetary reward. And implementing an employee recognition programme, especially one that leverages digital technology, can be the perfect antidote to a business climate where over 80% of the workforce doesn’t feel engaged at work.

More and more businesses are using digital platforms that look and feel like social media platforms but exist solely to share, celebrate and recognise employee achievement at every level.

Being more flexible in the ways that matter most

A little flexibility goes a long way. Even letting an employee come in half an hour late after dropping the kids off at school can help make their lives less stressful while ensuring that they start the working day in the right mindset.

Allowing remote working is also a potentially helpful and cost-effective way in which you can show your employees how committed you are to giving them flexibility and a better work/life balance.

Safeguarding employee health and wellbeing

There are numerous ways in which you can demonstrate your commitment to employee wellbeing. Your employees are vital to your company’s success, so it makes sense to prioritise their health.

Encourage employees to get away from their desks at least once an hour and ensure that furniture is ergonomically adjustable. Try and organise work socials to help destress employees. Even small things such as making sure the office is stocked with healthy snacks can help.

Investing in their training and development

Show your employees that you care about them and their careers, rather than wanting to keep them stuck in the same position for years. Regular access to training courses in Continuing Professional Development can show that you want to be their partner in achieving their personal and career goals.

2. Encourage a culture of gratitude

When you get lost in the fast-paced and often stressful realities of daily operations, it’s easy to take one another for granted. Managers can come to take the hard work and innovation of their team members for granted, just as team members can take the understanding and encouragement of their managers for granted.

A harmonious workplace culture is one that encourages gratitude, ensuring that employees at every level know how privileged they are to work with their fellow team members. The same employee recognition programmes that can be used to celebrate employee achievement can also be used to celebrate the little things that members of the team do to create a happy, healthy and dynamic workplace.

3. Make sure employees feel safe

Of course, you have a legal responsibility to ensure that your team can work in complete safety without the need to worry for their physical wellbeing. But making employees feel safe goes beyond that. It means ensuring that they feel they can voice their ideas without being derided or shouted down. It means ensuring that they can always talk to a manager if they feel that their work or personal problems are impinging on their ability to get the job done.

If employees are to deliver excellence they need to be able to make themselves vulnerable. And you can only allow this by perpetuating a culture that makes them feel safe. There are no shortcuts to this. Still, clear codes of conduct, the right commitment to your employees and ensuring that you and your management team talk the talk as much as you walk the walk can make all the difference.

4. Remember that respect is in every little thing you do

It goes without saying that respect is a core tenet of a positive workplace culture. And respect is in more than just how your employees address one another or how well they’re compensated. It’s making sure that your team can pick up the slack when you take time off. It’s helping them to see what you see in them, even when they don’t see it themselves.

To create a respectful working environment, your employees (and you) need to create a culture where you cover for one another, where nobody is stitched up due to selfishness or poor planning. Where everyone is doing their part to make the workplace safe, pleasant and happy for others.

5. Be consistent!

This is the final and perhaps most important item on our list. Many businesses implement all kinds of ambitious programmes to improve their workplace culture and boost employee wellbeing. However, all-too commonly these bold ideas are abandoned after a few months — lost in the shuffle of hectic day-to-day operations.

Whatever changes you make to create and maintain a positive workplace culture, and whatever technology or facilities you use to make it happen, consistency is essential.

These 5 steps will help you on your way to getting the most out of your team and harnessing their productivity as you drive satisfaction and employee engagement. What’s more, you’ll find that creating and maintaining a positive workplace culture makes everyone’s day more enjoyable and less stressful, making you a desirable employer for top tier talent.