Building a Positive Workplace Culture

Building Workplace Culture

Poor workplace culture means the day passes more slowly, and half the time spent at work is spent thinking about getting out of there. A place where so much of our energy is expended for so many hours of the day is best served by a genuinely positive ethos where everyone truly feels valued. So how do employees tend to feel about their workplace? And what can we do to improve that?

Employee Satisfaction in an Age of Covid

The good news is that despite the pandemic, job satisfaction and engagement in the United States has actually continued to rise, although the overall figure disguises uneven components and demographics. Satisfaction reduced among people under 35, who are also more likely to work in industries such as hospitality, while it increased in the over-55s. Overall satisfaction has also trended upward in the last decade thanks to job market recovery, with most improved components relating to that.

In areas related to workplace culture such as views of coworkers, supervisors and acknowledgement, improvement has been small or negative since the pandemic. The reality is that in much of today’s labor market, employees have an advantage, and most of them are seeking employers with a positive work culture. For many employees, work culture matters when considering an employer. Companies with poor work culture or environment face retention issues, which can often cost more in hiring and training costs over time.

What Employees Really Want

Research suggests that, more than money, most employees really just want security with things like salary, pensions and health insurance. Millennials are intentionally focusing on those factors related to well-being, emphasizing work-life balance, mental health and education as they frequently job-hop. Pay has never been the overriding factor for careers like teaching or caregiving. But in places like schools, too, relations between colleagues need to at least partly reflect the care afforded the students. What are some ways to do this?

Kind Words Are Free

Whether it’s during a performance review, during a weekly check-in or just passing in the hallway, everyone appreciates words of affirmation. Never underestimate the effect of a compliment, whether it’s for a good job or a stylish haircut. Research shows gratitude can boost productivity by up to 50%, especially when it comes from management. Kind words are infectious, too— you’ll notice that people often want to respond or pass on the good vibes.

Employee Gifts Programs

Of course, a gift is another step up from a compliment. It provides a physical reminder of receiving the recognition a great employee deserves. And as we at Hamilton believe, there's no wrong time to send your coworkers gifts. For a large team, one employee could also choose to pass on a smaller gift to a colleague they want to recognize each month during a staff meeting, who does the same the following month, and so on. Birthdays and the holidays may be prime candidates for gifts, but making the gratitude explicit heightens it.

Education Programs

The twenty-first century job market emphasizes high skills and knowledge. Employees appreciate opportunities to raise the bar for themselves, which is why German car manufacturers, for instance, are continuing to invest in well-trained workforces during an electronic renaissance. Many companies facilitate training during work hours and recoup the up-front cost through an employee’s paychecks. Workplaces with training generally have lower staff turnover, and importantly are another way to show care.

Genuine positivity feeds into motivation, which in turn produces better outcomes and higher retention of skilled employees. There are even more ideas to improve workplace culture than the three tips listed here, but you’ll be amazed by the changes in culture these simple tips can create.

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By Jennie Vanessa